Alan Curbishley and Terry Venables last night ruled themselves out of the running to become the new Hull City manager leaving Iain Dowie as the early contender to succeed Phil Brown, who was sacked yesterday with only nine games of the season remaining following his side's woeful run of form.
The Hull chairman, Adam Pearson, finally ran out of patience with Brown in the wake of the home defeat to Arsenal, a result that left them second from bottom of the Premier League table and facing a desperate battle to stay up. Brown paid the price for overseeing just one victory in 16 games, while Hull have failed to secure an away win all season.
Pearson is keen to make a swift appointment, which suggests he will hand what some consider to be a poisoned chalice to someone currently out of work and available to accept a short-term contract until the summer. He also wants the new man in charge to have some time to prepare his squad for Saturday's crucial trip to Portsmouth. Curbishley was understood to be his preferred choice, but Pearson was unable to persuade him to move north and Venables also ruled himself out yesterday.
Gary Megson was considered but Hull would have to pay Bolton Wanderers compensation under the terms ofMegson's departure from the Reebok earlier this season which made him a non-starter. Pearson is also an admirer of Mark Hughes but believes it might not be financially viable to bring him to the KC Stadium. Avram Grant is also a possibility and would jump at the chance to leave Portsmouth.
"I'm looking for an experienced manager," Pearson said, "someone who can come in and manage to get the wins we need to stay in the League. We needed some fresh impetus.
"I spoke to Phil and he took it like the professional he is when I informed him of my decision. It may come as a surprise to some people and I admit it's a brave one, but I just felt we needed a change because results have been poor and, despite the fact the players are still battling, we are running out of matches. I hope to be in a position to make an announcement by Thursday."
Brown, meanwhile, appears to have been the master of his own downfall to a certain extent. Since his infamous half-time team-talk at Eastlands on Boxing Day 2008, Hull have won only six games from 48. Despite this they managed to survive relegation to the Championship last May, but have gone backwards this season and Brown's erratic and somewhat eccentric behaviour has not always endeared himself to Pearson.
Last week's very public confrontation between the record signing Jimmy Bullard and Nick Barmby, which took place in front of stunned members of the Women's Institute, confirmed growing fears that Brown had lost control of the players. Results alone justify his sacking, however, and Brown, who took over in 2006 and led the club into the top flight for the first time in 2008, said: "I am very disappointed with the club's decision and the fact that I will not have the opportunity to secure Hull's status in the Premier League for a third consecutive season.
"I am very proud of my achievements during my time as manager, especially having led the team into the top flight for the first time in the club's 104-year history and ahead of schedule. It has been a fantastic experience and I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all of the players, past and present, and also to my staff."
Hull-raiser: The faces of Phil Brown
Serenaded the KC Stadium with the Beach Boys' "Sloop John B" after the Tigers escaped relegation on the final day of last season, despite losing 1-0 to a severely weakened Manchester United side.
Led his players on a walk across the Humber Bridge to "look for clarity" instead of training after the 6-1 defeat at Liverpool in October. Brown revealed he "sweet-talked" a distressed woman away from taking her own life. A spokesperson for the bridge board said: "We have not heard anything about this."
Apologised to the Women's Institute after its members watched an "unsavoury" scuffle between his players Jimmy Bullard and Nick Barmby in a warm-down exercise near the bridge last week after the 5-1 loss at Everton.Reuse content