IN AN ideal world, the Football Association would negotiate a compensation package with Tottenham Hotspur this week and agree a deal with Harry Redknapp, allowing him to become the England manager when the domestic season finishes in May. He is the outstanding candidate for the job and, more to the point, he is English - which is exactly what the England manager should be.
It was noble of Stuart Pearce to serve briefly as England manager for the last 23 days but that is over now. If there was any case that he should take the job permanently then it was dismissed by Pearce himself who reiterated on Wednesday night that he was unsuitable. "I am not ready for the senior international job and all that comes with it," he said, which also undermines his argument that he could take the team for Euro 2012.
Appointing a new England manager is one of the most complicated appointments in football. There are issues on either side - the FA and Redknapp - any one of which has the potential to change the process.
1. LENGTH OF CONTRACT ON OFFER
The FA took a lot of criticism for removing the key break clause in Fabio Capello's contract the day before the team departed for what turned out to be a deeply unsatisfactory 2010 World Cup campaign. They did so because of fears that he would be poached by Internazionale. That limited their options when subsequently it came to making a decision on his future.
The length of contract offered to the new man will be a crucial area of consideration for the FA. A two-year deal that encompasses qualification for the 2014 World Cup and that tournament in Brazil may well look like a more attractive option to the Club England four-man board.
Recent history demonstrates to the FA that they would give themselves more room for manoeuvre with the new man if they were to have the flexibility of a shorter deal. The evidence is compelling. Ideally Sven Goran Eriksson should have gone after Euro 2004 but was offered a four-year deal before the tournament by an FA panicked by the prospect of him joining Chelsea.
Even Capello might have gone after the last World Cup. For five days, his future was effectively placed on hold by what is virtually the same Club England board that will decide the next manager. In the light of what has happened in the past, it would be more sensible to offer the new man a shorter deal.
However, Redknapp, or even bigger foreign names such as Jose Mourinho, would ordinarily be used to longer-term deals of around four years. Redknapp would certainly want a new contract of that length if he stayed at Spurs.
Additionally the new man could argue he has little chance of winning either of the next two tournaments. For Euro 2012, he would take over just weeks before the first game. After that, winning a World Cup in South America is a very tall order. No European team has done it before. Euro 2016 in France looks England's next best fighting chance.
2. HARRY'S PERSPECTIVE
Redknapp finds himself in charge of the most exciting young team in the Premier League, in third place and shaking up the established elite of the division. He has been the architect of that rise since he took over in October 2008 with Spurs at the bottom of the league.
Since Capello's departure, the Tottenham supporters, a difficult group to please at the best of times, have taken to singing that they do not want Redknapp to go. There are strong suggestions that Spurs are in the running to sign Eden Hazard from Lille this summer which would represent arguably their greatest transfer coup since Paul Gascoigne arrived in 1988, in terms of the calibre of clubs who want the Belgian.
But the nagging question remains: is the prospect of third place and the FA Cup, which Spurs are now the favourites to win, the reasonable limit of the club's ambitions? However good the football, it will be difficult to resist forever the clamour from bigger, richer clubs to sign the jewels, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale. Emmanuel Adebayor, on loan this season, will likely be too costly to sign permanently. The club have a stadium-building plan to embark upon, the like of which severely limited Arsenal's dealings in the transfer market.
Above all, the wage structure at Spurs will always require the club to buy mostly young, cheap talent and hope that their judgment pays off. It has worked handsomely of late. But that is no guarantee that it will continue to be successful.
3. DECISION-MAKING PROCESS
The FA has been at great pains to say that the four-man Club England board will have complete control over the process. The board is comprised of FA chairman David Bernstein, FA general secretary Alex Horne, director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking and Adrian Bevington, the group's managing director.
These four have been "mandated" by the FA main board to oversee the process. Nevertheless, their recommendation will have to go to the 14-strong FA board for approval. The hope would be that this will be automatic - former chief executive Brian Barwick sought board approval for Capello's appointment over the phone - but that cannot be guaranteed.
It is an open secret in football that Brooking is no great fan of Redknapp. Their playing careers at West Ham overlapped and both have been connected to the club in different ways since, Redknapp as manager, but that relationship has not changed. As the only former professional footballer on the board, Brooking's voice will carry great weight.
4. THE JOB DESCRIPTION
Success for the England team will be the priority for the next manager. In the short term that will mean getting through Euro 2012 with some credit and, beyond that, qualifying for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
What will the other demands be? The FA will open St George's Park near Burton, the governing body's new base for the national teams and its centre for developing coaches, at the start of the new season. Will they factor in a requirement for the new man to base himself at St George's Park for part of the week? The likes of Eriksson and Capello were largely left to go to games at their own leisure when not required to manage the team in international weeks. Commuting to Staffordshire might have an effect on how certain candidates view the job.
5. PAYING COMPENSATION
If Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, insists on being paid for the remaining 12 months of Redknapp's contract after this season then the total package the FA will be forced to pay for him, including salary, will rise. There is no definitive value yet on what Spurs can ask for but it is a cost that has to be factored in. Capello was out of work when he accepted the job at the end of 2007.
6. SIR DAVE
He still has a seat on the FA board. It was Sir Dave Richards who was shaking hands in the line-up at Wembley on Wednesday. It's hard to imagine he will not want to get involved in some capacity.