A four-man shortlist for the job of manager at Blackburn Rovers was drawn up last night, with the club hopeful of having Mark Hughes' successor in place by the end of the week.
Though Alan Shearer has overtaken Paul Ince as the bookies' favourite, Rovers' chief executive, John Williams, indicated yesterday that the pair were neck and neck prior to the interviewing process and that he had no intentions of heading out to the European Championship to meet with the former Rovers striker. The Zenit St Petersburg coach Dick Advocaat is also likely to be on the four-man list, though Sam Allardyce and Steve McClaren seem less likely candidates.
"We've had a good day discussing all interested candidates," Williams said after emerging soon after 3pm from four hours of talks with some of his board members. His club have demonstrated, in the employment of Hughes, as well as Brian Kidd and Kenny Dalglish before him, an inclination to take on youthful managers. This time seems likely to be no different, with Williams conscious that a big name is needed to keep attendances up.
Ince has considerably more experience in his favour and Rovers are only too aware what alumni of the Sir Alex Ferguson school can bring them. For his part Shearer, who is known to be interested, would be an even bigger draw having played a part in delivering Rovers the title in 1995. But he is untested and there is also the question of where his loyalties might lie should Newcastle United find themselves looking for a manager in the next year. The situation at St James' Park remains febrile to say the least.
Allardyce has made no secret of his attraction to the job but he may not be a popular choice among Rovers fans and Steve McClaren also falls into the category of managers who may turn off fans.