Roy Hodgson resigned minutes after Monday’s 2-1 upset in Nice and Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn has to pick up the pieces ahead of the start of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers in September.
England’s first match is against Slovakia, who played a significant role in Hodgson’s downfall, on September 4.
“We are not talking about names today, but it would be a pretty obvious one to pick.”
That clearly means Southgate, the former Aston Villa defender who led England to the finals of the European under-21 finals last year and to victory in the recent Toulon tournament.
Glenn explained: “We don’t know yet who the runners and riders would be. We are going to scope out, which we start at the end of this week with [FA vice-chairman] David Gill and [technical director] Dan Ashworth.
“It is – what’s the problem we need to solve?
“We clearly need an inspirational manager who can harness all of the resources that the English game, the big resources, has got, everything we have now got at St George’s Park, to make us more resilient in tournaments.
“That I think is a brief, but we want to work that through, but it is an inspirational manager and management team to get the best out of a squad which has got high potential.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Glenn even suggested several people could take temporary control and did not rule Southgate out of the running for the permanent post, nor anyone else.
“As I said, it has got to be the best man or woman for the job,” said Glenn.
“More likely a man, but it’s the best person for the job. I don’t think we are ruling out anything.
“An ideal mix is somebody who has had experience of the English game, ideally at a significant level. That is what you would look for.”
Glenn plans to act as a counter-balance in the triumvirate leading the search for the new boss, which includes Gill and Ashworth, having conceded he was “not a football expert”.
The FA chief executive says current senior members of the England squad will be canvassed for their opinion, along with current and former players and managers.
“It’s the old joke: ‘What’s a camel? It’s a horse designed by committee.’
“You’ll have 55 different opinions in this room about who should be manager, but we are going to use the opinions, and wisdom and insight of current managers, former managers and players.
“There’s going to be a broader process of consultation.”
Glenn has not ruled out waiting until the end of the season should the right person be available, with Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger one such high-profile manager whose deal expires next summer.
“It is a possibility, of course,” he said when asked if he would be prepared to wait for someone’s contract to expire.
“If you said, ‘This person is an absolute shoo in, can you wait?’ then we are well-placed I think with an interim solution.
“You might get interim solutions plural as we have had in the past – get a few managers to come and help.
“It is such an important decision, we have got to get the right person.
“To wait a few months – if that is what we had to do – I think would be the right decision.”
Glenn would not wait to name Hodgson’s permanent successor if he felt it would jeopardise qualification for the 2018 World Cup and conceded it was “unlikely” he would hold off for a whole year, but not inconceivable.
Such indecision appears borne out of the fact the FA is starting from scratch, with the chief executive saying there was no pre-existing shortlist in order not to undermine Hodgson.
Gary Neville worked under the outgoing England boss and his role on the coaching staff looked to be succession planning, but his exit with Ray Lewington has seen those odds lengthen.
“I have got to speak to Gary,” Glenn said when asked if Neville had made a clean break. “I think he will be part of the process of saying, ‘What do you think?’
“He needs a bit of time to decompress. He is distraught about the result last night. Now is not the time to be talking to him.
“He is obviously a person that you would want to get an opinion from. He is very opinionated as you know, so having been close to it he’ll part of it.”