Leeds cut shortlist to Moore and Blackwell

Leeds United have brought their managerial shortlist down to two - a straight choice between Kevin Blackwell and Ronnie Moore.

The club's chairman, Gerald Krasner, had a meeting with Blackwell - the caretaker-manager following Eddie Gray's departure, who had been Gray's assistant - yesterday to find out his views on the full-time post.

Blackwell has been reluctant to commit himself because of the financial problems at the club, but he is now inclining towards accepting the job if it is offered. The experienced coach would like to know what his budget will be and to have permission to approach staff, with the former Walsall manager Colin Lee being his first choice as assistant.

Moore, the Rotherham manager, is the other main contender, although he has a compensation clause of around £150,000 in his contract that may prove to be an obstacle. Moore has ambitions to work for a bigger club after working minor miracles at Rotherham, and, for all of their difficulties, Leeds still qualify in that category.

Blackwell is slight favourite although his lack of time spent as a full-time manager in a top post is the main worry on his CV.

Crystal Palace's Iain Dowie is the preferred choice of the takeover bidder, Steve Parkin, but he has yet to prove he has the funds to buy Leeds. Wigan's Paul Jewell has also been mentioned inside Elland Road, but he is happy with the wealthier Lancashire club.

"They are a Premier League club with 40,000 fanatical supporters and are known all over the world," Moore said. "It is a massive, massive job and for me to be linked with it is pleasing as it proves I'm doing something right." He added: "I think if you were in charge at Leeds you would want someone who knows what the First Division is all about. That's probably why my name has been linked with the job."

Moore's name has also been linked with the vacant Burnley post since Stan Ternent left Turf Moor at the end of the season. He said: "Everything is just so up in the air at the moment, not just at Leeds and Burnley, but here at Rotherham as well.

"The takeover situation has left everything up in the air, and although I've got one year left on my contract, I really don't know what's going to happen. There's been talk of me being offered a five-year contract at Rotherham and a place on the board, but if the club keeps dragging its feet then I don't know what will happen.

"It's all speculation at the minute - and I can't do anything until the chairman gives Leeds or Burnley permission to speak to me - but they are both massive jobs and I would definitely be interested in them."

Pivotal to Blackwell's plans would be the rebuilding of a squad which this summer will be cut down to the bare bones, with a number of highly paid players making way to ease debts, and with the club preparing for life in the First Division.

Krasner believes the club have sent out a defiant message after rejecting two offers from Manchester United for Alan Smith. United came in with an initial bid of £3.5m, and then £5.5m after that was turned down, but Leeds are looking for a fee closer to their £10m valuation of the 23-year-old.

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