Sam Allardyce 'had interview for England job' - but will he get it?
A report has claimed that Sam Allardyce spoke face-to-face with FA chief David Gill on Tuesday.
And Sunderland have confirmed that they gave permission for the FA to speak to Allardyce in regard to taking over the national team.
The Daily Mail also carry the story, and have a picture of Allardyce getting into a car to back it up.
Gill is one of three people on the panel that is in charge of selecting the new England manager, so while this cannot have been a formal interview - which presumably would have to take place at the FA's headquarters - it does seem highly likely that it was a preliminary discussion about Allardyce taking over.
The Mirror's report claims that the two other key FA men - technical director Dan Ashworth and chief executive Martin Glenn, who are the other members of the selection panel - were also at the meeting at Gill's house.
The Mail cautions that Allardyce isn't the unanimous choice at the FA: "There does appear to be some opposition on the FA board to Allardyce, 61, but Gill is by far the most influential member of that board and the fact that the meeting was at his home is significant."
The FA are thought to want to get a new manager in as soon as possible so as to minimise disruption to whichever club they land their target from.
Bookies responded to the news by slashing the odds on Allardyce to get the job from evens to 4/7 by Wednesday morning, and thereafter to 4/11.
Will the Black Cats be able to keep their man? From the sounds of their statement, it looks like they will try:
"The Football Association contacted Sunderland AFC to seek permission to speak with our manager as part of what was supposed to be a confidential discussion process with potential candidates for the position of England manager. At Sam Allardyce’s request, we agreed to this.
"Sam is very much key to our plans. After what was an extremely challenging season, we are keen to see a period of stability, both on and off the field, and we want him to remain as manager of our football club.
"The ongoing speculation over Sam’s position is extremely damaging to Sunderland AFC, particularly at this crucial time of the season and we urge the FA to respect the disruption that this process is causing and bring about a swift resolution to the matter."
Scotsman key to choosing England manager?
Sam Allardyce (left) and Sir Alex FergusonPA Photos
Sir Alex Ferguson is reportedly one of the key people pushing Allardyce forward.
"While the FA have spoken to USA boss Jurgen Klinsmann, they are said to have been persuaded by former Manchester United boss Fergie and League Managers' Association [LMA] chief Richard Bevan that they must go for an Englishman," the Mirror's Alex Richards reports.
"Both Ferguson and Bevan are close friends of Allardyce, who is another high-roller in LMA circles."
As good as Ancelotti?
Mike Forde, an American management consultant who used to work with Allardyce at Bolton as performance director, and later became Chelsea's director of football operations, poured extravagant praise on Allardyce last week:
" You are only ever as good as the players you have but when it comes to getting the best out of the players you have — something that is key to international management — I think he's second to none. In my time at Chelsea I'd say Carlo Ancelotti was the best at that and Sam is at the same level."
Now that's praise.
The dark horse: Steve Bruce
Hull manager Steve Bruce has seen his odds of getting the job steadily shorten over the past three days, with Eurosport expert Paul Parker giving him a ringing endorsement on Tuesday.
"He's got more about him as a manager, and as a man, than Allardyce."
The Mirror's report claims that Bruce will only be considered if no agreement can be hammered out with Allardyce, however.
So will Allardyce definitely get the job?
There's no doubt that Allardyce is the favourite for good reason: he is an iconic figure in the game for his record of overachievement with small clubs such as Bolton.
But we've been here before: Harry Redknapp was such a strong favourite to land the job four years ago that many bookies stopped taking bets on him.
Instead, the FA turned to Roy Hodgson, a less flamboyant manager but seen as a safer pair of hands.
It's perfectly possible that the FA may err on the side of caution again - and that could mean that the personable Bruce could yet nip in and deny the fiery Allardyce from getting the job once again.