Gareth Southgate has completed his formal interview to become England’s next manager and could be appointed by the end of the month.
Southgate, who has been in charge of the national side for the past four matches on an interim basis, met with a five-man panel to outline his vision of the future at St George’s Park on Monday, and sources tell Press Association Sport that no other candidates have been invited for an interview at this stage.
Assessing Southgate’s pitch was a Football Association panel comprising chairman Greg Clarke, chief executive Martin Glenn and technical director Dan Ashworth, with League Managers’ Association chairman Howard Wilkinson and former England left-back Graeme Le Saux also present in an advisory capacity.
Unless there is a major unforeseen stumbling block, Southgate’s name will go forward to an FA board meeting on Nov. 30, when his confirmation as Sam Allardyce’s successor would be nodded through, with a four-year deal and a post-World Cup break clause in the summer of 2018 anticipated.
The 46-year-old has already made a favourable impression on the decision-makers, taking seven points from nine in World Cup qualifying ties against Malta, Slovenia and Scotland before signing off last week with an entertaining 2-2 friendly draw against Spain.
His measured public persona and the strong stance he took in dropping captain Wayne Rooney for last month’s clash in Ljubljana have also marked him out as someone capable of holding the top job.
On top of that the former Middlesbrough manager is well-versed in FA protocols, planning and procedures from his three-and-a-half years in charge of the under-21s.
Although the interview process occupied three hours at the National Football Centre, finishing around 1 p.m., several key boxes on Southgate’s application had already been ticked in the course of what had effectively become a six-week audition.
As well as considering Southgate’s own position, a key part of the discussion revolved around his proposed backroom team and other staffing issues.
Chelsea coach Steve Holland has been working as Southgate’s assistant on a part-time agreement but a full-time move to the FA staff could be in the offing.
Blues boss Antonio Conte is keen to keep Holland but Southgate believes the kind of job-split arrangement that served Gary Neville during the Roy Hodgson years is insufficient.
Also waiting for news is Aidy Boothroyd, who has been looking after the England Under-21s in Southgate’s absence. Southgate has been in charge of the Young Lions since 2013 and is a keen supporter of a unified international pathway, adopting similar patterns of play throughout the age groups.
As such, he would want to work closely with his U21s successor and be granted a significant say in his identity.
One issue that may not have received as much attention is the planned review around players’ free time on England duty.
Photographs of Wayne Rooney appearing to be drunk in the early hours of a wedding party he had been invited to join during a day off at the team hotel caused a stir last week, with the national captain issuing an apology to Southgate and Ashworth before criticising media coverage.
The activities of other players, who went out in a variety of locations on the same evening, have since been placed under the spotlight, with Liverpool duo Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana understood to have visited a Bournemouth strip club.
Glenn has promised a “proper investigation” will be conducted into the way players and staff use their time off, but any such process will not get off the ground until the new manager is in place as his input will be vital.
The usual debrief from the games against Scotland and Spain will take place later this week, with Southgate allowed to prepare for his interview before completing those duties.