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Fabio Capello's resignation as England manager capped a remarkable day for English soccer on Wednesday with Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp at the centre of it.
Capello's exit in the wake of a row over the deposed England skipper John Terry, means the English FA have to act swiftly in appointing his successor with four months to go before the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine in June.
In reality, the FA need to have his replacement in place before their next match, a warm-up friendly against the Netherlands at Wembley Stadium on Feb. 29.
Stuart Pearce, the current coach of the England Under-21 and British Olympic team, and an assistant with the national squad under Capello, has been touted as the probable short-term stand-in, but Redknapp's name is the one widely being put forward as a long-term replacement for the 65-year-old Italian.
Redknapp started the day awaiting a jury's verdict following a 13-day trial at Southwark Crown Court into allegations of tax evasion while he was manager at Portsmouth which could have led to him spending most of the next two years in jail.
The jury agreed unanimously that he was not guilty on both the charges he faced and, after he left the court a free man with an unblemished record, his name was back in the spotlight hours later as the future England boss.
The 64-year-old Londoner though, is contracted to Spurs until 2013. While he has made no secret of wanting to lead England one day, he has repeatedly said he is totally committed to his club side and would not talk about England unless and until he was offered the job by the English FA.
Redknapp would be a popular choice, not least because he is an Englishman. While every football manager and player has his detractors, Redknapp has relatively few.
He is widely respected, not only by his own club's fans but by neutrals as well who recognise that his teams play with attacking flair, that he manages players well and that he is an astute tactician.
He comes across as a man of the people, with a positive and good-humoured approach to life, the game and the media, traits that would be a breath of fresh air after the taciturn disciplinarianism and halting English of Capello.
Pearce is another possible contender for the job, as is Jose Mourinho, who appears set on leaving Real Madrid at the end of the season, while Dutchman Guus Hiddink, Arsene Wenger of Arsenal and Roy Hodgson of West Bromwich Albion have all been linked to the job by London bookmakers William Hill.
Whoever takes the job has one serious problem to deal with before choosing a squad and a team that could stand any chance of reaching the later stages of Euro 2012.
Capello resigned as manager on Wednesday because he felt the FA undermined his authority by stripping Terry of the captaincy last week after the player's criminal trial for allegedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand of Queens Park Rangers was put back until after the European Championship.
Capello maintained that Terry was innocent until proven guilty and should have kept the armband. Once the FA made their decision, his position was untenable.
The new manager must now select a new captain and decide whether to take Terry as a member of the squad at all.
He also has to decide who else to take to the finals which is why it is probably important the job goes to an Englishman familiar with the Premier League.
FA chairman David Bernstein, who accepted Capello's resignation on Wednesday, has repeatedly said he wants an Englishman to assume control of England while he is chairman.
Redknapp, arguably, could do the job part-time because England have only three warm-up matches, against the Dutch, Belgium and Norway, before the finals.
Pearce though, has worked as one of Capello's assistants as well as managing the under-21s and is free to concentrate all his time on the national team, while Redknapp's Spurs still have an outside chance of the Premier League title and a realistic shot at the Champions League.
The Spurs boss is the front runner for the job after being widely tipped to replace Capello for several months.
Redknapp has never hidden his desire to coach England and, while it was orginally thought he would have to wait until after Euro 2012 -- when the Italian was due to step down, he may get his wish earlier than expected.
The Englishman's chances were greatly boosted when he was cleared of charges of tax fraud just hours before Capello's resignation.
After managing Switzerland and Finland the West Bromwich Albion boss has plenty of international experience and his spells at Inter Milan and Liverpool have given him an insight into the tricky demands of dealing with top stars.
Earned great respect for his work at Fulham, where he led the unfashionable club to the Europa League final in 2010, and would fit the FA's desire for a statesman-like figure.
However, his failure to last even a season at Liverpool is a black mark and he doesn't have the charismatic personality of Redknapp or Mourinho.
The Special One has remained a firm admirer of English football since leaving Chelsea in 2007 and sources close to the Real Madrid boss say he is keen to return to England soon.
Unlike Capello, the Portuguese speaks perfect English and his strong personality would allow him to control the egos in the England dressing room.
His CV - which includes Champions League triumphs with Porto and Inter Milan and league titles in England, Italy and Portugal - is beyond compare. The only question is would the FA be willing to deal with his occasional controversial outbursts.
Just two years ago Pardew was licking his wounds after being sacked as boss of League One club Southampton. Now he finds himself in the running to manage his country.
While Pardew might be an outsider in the race to replace Capello, the 50-year-old's impressive work in difficult circumstances at Newcastle should have earned a few admiring glances at FA headquarters.
Despite the sale of his star striker Andy Carroll, former Charlton and West Ham boss Pardew kept Newcastle in the Premier League last season and now they sit fifth in the table with a push for a Champions League place within their sights.
Spells in charge of Holland, South Korea, Australia, Russia and Turkey give the 65-year-old Dutchman a wealth of international experience that would be attractive to any country looking for a new boss.
Hiddink is said to have already expressed an interest in the England job and he knows several key players including John Terry, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard from his spell as Chelsea interim manager in 2009.
Regarded as one of the most tactically astute coaches in world football, Hiddink would be a safe pair of hands, but his recent flop with Turkey could count against him.
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