Fabio Capello is concerned the Football Association is considering keeping the Italian in place as England manager only because they do not want to pay out the £10m compensation needed to break his contract.
Last night support at the FA seemed to be growing to keep Capello on.
Having been placed on notice that his position is under review by Sir Dave Richards, the FA's de facto head in the absence of any other leadership, Capello has been clear that he wants to be retained because the FA believe that he is the best man for the job. If he feels that he is only being kept on because of the cost of sacking him – or because there is no suitable alternative – then he may well walk away for a settlement.
Nevertheless, support among the FA for the embattled England manager appeared to be growing last night with Sir Trevor Brooking, as well as a number of influential board members, understood to be in favour of keeping him on. Crucially, one of Richards's closest friends, the former sports minister and ex-Labour MP Richard Caborn, has also come out in favour of keeping Capello.
While Caborn is no longer in government, he is close to Richards by virtue of their Sheffield backgrounds and was instrumental in helping to secure the Premier League chairman his knighthood. His thoughts are likely to reflect those of Richards, and at the very least he can be said to have some influence over him.
Caborn said yesterday: "We can't just deal with the symptoms, we have to get to the root of the problem. English football and the Premier League have to come together to develop young English players. Fabio Capello is one of the best coaches in the world and if the FA replace him then it is just papering over the cracks and the same problem will come up again."
Richards is currently taking soundings from figures within the FA as to Capello's future and will make a recommendation one way or the other to the FA's main board before their next meeting on 14 July. The former Sheffield Wednesday chairman who sits on just about every influential body within the FA – the main board, the international committee and Club England – was back in Sheffield yesterday and was said to be nursing a chest infection.
Like Caborn, Brooking, the FA's director of football development, who also sits on the Club England board, will recommend to Richards that Capello stays in the job. Brooking believes that Capello is not the root of the problem with English football. Richards' consulting process is likely to open up a wider debate about whether English football is doing a good enough job in developing players. Having fought a long campaign for a well-funded plan to coach young footballers, it is understood that Brooking does not want the money that would be spent paying Capello off to be taken away from youth development plans. Although Capello would regard being kept on because he is the cheapest option as a reason not to stay.
The lack of an alternative is likely to play a large part in Richards' thinking – whatever Capello believes. FA board members are concerned that in dismissing Capello there would be little chance of having a new man in place in time for the start of the Euro 2012 qualification campaign with the match against Bulgaria on 3 September, let alone the 11 August friendly with Hungary.
Richards is under pressure from the Premier League, where he has been chairman for the last 10 years, because the league's executive is concerned that the perception is that they are picking the England manager. Richards' takeover of the FA by stealth also leaves him in a difficult position if there is a review of youth development with this latest World Cup failure.
The Premier League have had control of youth development at elite level since 1997 when they began the academy system. Any attempt by the FA to take that power back would be met with resistance from the League.