The odds on Birmingham boss Chris Hughton succeeding Paul Lambert as the manager of Norwich City Football Club shortened again this afternoon as fans favourite Malky Mackay ruled himself out of the running.
Whether, of course, he was ever in the running as far as the Canary board were concerned is another matter; chief executive David McNally said the club had their sights set on someone with ‘top league’ experience.
Premiership experience is, of course, the big gap in Mackay’s cv – an omission he appears to be intent on righting with the Bluebirds. This afternoon an official statement – released to Sky Sports News – found the former Canary defender tying his colours firmly to the Cardiff cause.
“I’m very flattered to be linked with Norwich as it’s a club close to my heart from my playing days there,” said Mackay, with newspapers in South Wales suggesting the Canaries ‘registered an interest’ in potentially securing his services last week as Lambert prepared to disappear to Villa.
Lambert is now expected to be formally ‘unveiled’ as the new Villa Park chief on Wednesday once the Jubilee celebrations are concluded.
Mackay, meanwhile, only signed a new deal with Cardiff in January – on that, in theory, ties him to South Wales until 2016. Despite the obvious attractions of a return to Norfolk, he is now firmly out of contention.
“I have very good friends within the club and greatly respect Delia Smith and her fellow majority shareholder Michael Wynn Jones,” he added.
“Norwich are moving in the right direction, but I want to finish the exciting project I’ve started at Cardiff where we’ve a structure in place geared to long-term success.
“I’ve a great relationship with our chief executive Alan Whiteley and the club’s owner Vincent Tan is committed to major investment in Cardiff more of which will become apparent later this week. I too am fully committed to our football club and I’m ready for the challenges ahead.”
Even by football’s standards in terms of forked and tongues, it would appear that that was definitely that as far as replacing one Scot for another was concerned; McNally himself has ruled out an approach for another – Hoops boss Neil Lennon.
All of which would point towards bookies favourite Hughton being the man in the frame.
Not that Norwich are the only show in town this summer. Hughton has already found himself courted by the managerless Baggies, whilst – according to the bookies – he is also somewhere on Swansea’s radar as they seek a replacement for Brendan Rodgers.
The theory was that Wigan No2 Graeme Jones – formerly at The Liberty with Roberto Martinez – would take the gig, but as the plan falters so Swans’ chairman Huw Jenkins was likewise to be found scouring Europe for those of ‘top league’ coaching experience who might be tempted to secure Swansea’s place in the Premier League again next season.
In their case, it was Michael Laudrup filling the back pages; Gus Poyet was also there or thereabouts.
Intriguingly, the news from Birmingham this weekend was that West Bromwich Albion had given up their chase of Hughton and were turning their attentions abroad instead – to Ralf Rangnick, the former Schalke04 coach.
According to The Birmingham Mail, a formal approach for the 53-year-old from their near-neighbours had been met with a ‘robust’ response.
The question that then begged is whether Norwich would find an equally ‘robust’ defence of Hughton’s services awaiting them should they, too, knock on the door at St Andrew’s.
All of which left just one thing for certain – securing Lambert’s successor is not going to be easy. Nor is it likely to be a job for the faint-hearted.