Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has pulled out of the running to become the new Aston Villa manager last night.
The former Manchester United striker, currently manager of Norwegian champions Molde, was interviewed by Villa owner Randy Lerner over the weekend. But Solskjaer has opted not to be considered as Alex McLeish's successor for personal reasons.
Solskjaer was the favourite with the bookmakers to take charge of Villa who only just avoided relegation from the Premier League. But sources close to the club are keen to stress Solskjaer was never offered the job by Lerner.
Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner will now step up their bid in other directions to replace McLeish who was sacked last week. Brendan Rodgers (Swansea), Paul Lambert (Norwich) and Roberto Martinez (Wigan) are potential candidates.
"Solskjaer is no longer an alternative for Aston Villa. He has said no for family reasons," a Villa spokesman told Norway's TV2 Sport last night.
TV2 Sport added Solskjaer told Villa of his decision following a dinner with Molde's main sponsor Kjell Inge Rokke. Aker, Rokke's company, withdrew £2.7m in sponsorship from the club following Solskjaer's decision to visit Birmingham to talk to Villa about the managerial vacancy on Friday.
Reports that Solskjaer had further talks about the Villa job before making his decision are understood to be wide of the mark.
He impressed Lerner after leading Molde to the Norwegian title in his first season after leaving United where he had been reserve-team coach. But it was always Villa's intention to interview all the candidates on their shortlist before making a decision and they will now continue with that process.