Published February 10, 2012
LONDON – Harry Redknapp said Friday his focus remains on Tottenham's pursuit of Champions League qualification — until an approach is made for the vacant England coaching job.
With the European Championship only four months away, Redknapp is the leading contender to replace Fabio Capello as England coach. But with no certainty that Redknapp can be lured from Tottenham, English Football Association executives met Friday to form a shortlist of candidates.
Key members of the England squad have quickly swung into line with the national mood by publicly endorsing the 64-year-old Redknapp, who has led Tottenham into third place in the Premier League.
"It would be very difficult (leaving Tottenham) — I'm happy," Redknapp said. "But if the opportunity comes, and I get asked, I'll have to consider it."
Redknapp has the skills FA chairman David Bernstein requires of his new coach: Strong motivational qualities, experience handling top players and an ability to produce exciting soccer.
The groundswell of public support for Redknapp gathered after Capello quit on Wednesday following a disagreement with the FA over John Terry being stripped of the captaincy because of alleged racial abuse of an opponent.
"It's nice if people put me in a position where they think I've got a chance of getting the job," Redknapp said Friday. "It is flattering. Other managers have come out and said nice things and I appreciate everybody's support really."
Redknapp, an FA Cup winner with Portsmouth in 2008, is the "right choice," according to United manager Alex Ferguson.
"He has the experience and personality and the knowledge of the game," said Ferguson, who managed Scotland at the 1986 World Cup. "He has changed the fortunes of every club he has been at."
It has been a whirlwind week for Redknapp. Facing a potential jail sentence on Wednesday morning, by the evening he had been cleared of tax fraud and installed as the favorite to replace Capello.
But leaving Tottenham would be difficult, with the team seven points behind leader Manchester City as it chases a first title since 1961. Redknapp has another year on his contract.
"I can't take my eye off the ball at Tottenham at the moment because we're looking to get Champions League football, we're still in the FA Cup and I owe it to them to continue to keep completely focused on the job I'm doing here," Redknapp said. "It wouldn't be fair to anybody here if I started to let my thoughts wander elsewhere."
England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce will take charge of England's exhibition against the Netherlands on Feb. 29. The FA said another interim coach could be in place for Euro 2012.
But Redknapp said the job is too big to be done by a part-timer.
"It is hard enough managing a league club let alone managing your country. It's two very difficult jobs," he said. "I think your focus has got to be on one job."
Redknapp has his health to consider. He had heart surgery in November during his legal fight.
"My family has gone from one storm to another, but I prefer this storm (about the England job)," Redknapp's son, former England international Jamie Redknapp, wrote in Friday's editions of the Daily Mail. "My dad has been ill worrying about his case. He has been anxious and angry.
"Worrying about my mum, who is a gentle and soft person. Worrying about what would happen to her if he ended up with a guilty verdict. I don't want to sound selfish, but whatever my dad ends up doing, he has to do what is best for him."