Neil Warnock surprise candidate for vacant Sheffield Wednesday managerial position despite links with rivals United

Former Sheffield United manager is coveted by Wednesday chairman

Neil Warnock once joked if he ever became Sheffield Wednesday manager he would do his best to get them relegated, instead he may become the man tasked with keeping the Championship club up.

The 65-year-old former Sheffield United manager is a shock contender to replace David Jones, who was sacked on Sunday with Wednesday in the Championship’s bottom two.

Warnock has long been admired by Wednesday chairman Milan Mandaric, who almost persuaded him to manage Portsmouth eight years ago. Mandaric is considering selling Wednesday, but knows the club’s value will plummet if it returns to League One. He believes Warnock is the type of experienced manager who can save the club from the drop.

It would only be a short-term agreement, to the end of the season, but that would suit Warnock, who now lives in Cornwall with his two school-age children. It is understood he nearly took the Crystal Palace job on a similar basis last month. However, there could be problems with the Wednesday support.

Warnock was born in the steel city but grew up supporting United before managing them for eight years. He was also involved in a furious row with Jones, and Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland, after last season’s match at Hillsborough against Yorkshire rivals Leeds United, who were Warnock’s last employers. Kirkland confronted Warnock in the dressing room after Warnock accused him on live TV of "going down like a ton of bricks" after the goalkeeper was struck by a Leeds fan who had invaded the pitch. Kirkland angrily confronted Warnock in the dressing room as the latter emerged form the shower and only the actions of Leeds staff prevented the incident becoming physical. Having subsequently seeing film of the assault Warnock later apologised unreservedly to Kirkland.

Now 65, Warnock has been doing media work, including his Independent column, since leaving Leeds in March.