Caretaker Norwich City manager Jim Duffy has today refused to rule himself out of the running to take over from Peter Grant upon the Scot's departure from Carrow Road last night.
Speaking at the club's annual golf day, Duffy stopped short of officially declaring his interest in the hot-seat but implied that if the board wanted him to take the job on a full-time basis then he would be happy to take up the reins.
“It's not for me to decide ? it's for the board to decide,” said Duffy. “You cannot really win with your answer, if you say you want it then people think you are trying to jump in the manager's chair straightaway.
“I will do the job the club wants me to do until they decide otherwise.”
Former Wigan manager Paul Jewell has been installed as the early favourite with bookmakers but Duffy, who was brought in as assistant manager by Grant in February, is also among the frontrunners.
The 48-year-old admitted Grant's departure had presented him with a “moral dilemma” whether to go for the job but insisted that until he is told otherwise by the board, he will be giving 100 per cent to the Canaries' cause.
“You have that kind of moral dilemma ? Peter knows that. I spoke to him but you always have a professional duty to the best you can for the club,” said Duffy.
“The club's a fantastic club ? it's a great job, I love the job there's no denying that.
“Even the difficult days I enjoy. It's a strange masochistic mentality that you get into with football. I will enjoy it until someone tells me different.”
An announcement was made last night on the club website that Grant had left the club by mutual consent, a week before his one-year anniversary at Carrow Road.
Dire displays in recent weeks against Wolves and QPR on Monday prompted many supporters to suggest that the players were not fully behind Grant but Duffy insisted this speculation was well wide of the mark.
Duffy explained that the club's recent slump was purely down to a loss of form from key players. Responding to the speculation that Grant had lost the dressing room, Duffy said: “I think that's rubbish and if you are going to say that then name them.
“I don't think that's the case at all. I think the players can be off-form but I don't think they weren't playing for the manager.
“You see it day-in, day-out at training, the players were giving 100 per cent. You can lose form and if two or three key players lose form then it can sometimes give that impression but I don't think that was the case at all. And I think if you asked the players even off the record then you will find that's the case. I hope people in the media express that to our supporters.”
Until told otherwise, Duffy will take charge of the players although the international break means the Canaries will not be in action until October 20 against Bristol City.
The former Hearts boss said that in the meantime he will take on the job with the kind of enthusiasm that convinced Grant to bring him in as a member of his coaching staff.
“The task in the short-term is just to keep things as professional as possible until the board decide in which direction they want to move the club,” said Duffy.
“Either fortunately or unfortunately there's an international break so we have a few days in which we can just take stock. I'm sure the board of directors will do that as well.
“I will go in with as much enthusiasm and determination as I can but ultimately it's what the players can produce next week against Bristol City. We do have time and maybe it will be someone else giving that team talk next Saturday ? who knows?”
There had been a kind of inevitability in the air over Grant's departure and, when the former City boss said he would be “assessing the situation” following the 1-0 defeat at QPR, it was always going to be a question of 'when' not 'if' the former West Ham assistant boss would be leaving.
Duffy insisted that despite Grant's poor record this season, he can hold his head up high safe in the knowledge that he could not have tried any harder to make it a success with Norwich.
“I know from working with him closely how much he (Grant) has given to the football club. But he knows he's got to be judged over what happens on the football pitch. Recently those results haven't been good enough and Peter was aware of that. We discussed it several times and he gave it every ounce of effort he had to try and turn it around but ultimately the ball didn't fall for him.
“The time and effort he put in was immense. He imparted some great tactical knowledge on the players. I think the players to a man respected him totally. But he had a bad run with key players through injuries. But he never made excuses about that while a lot of other managers would have.”
Duffy has backed Grant to come back an even stronger manager for the experience but not before taking a little time out with his family.
He said: “There's always a kind of sense of relief because there's an immense stress in football management so that stress will be lifted. He will probably look a lot better and his family will feel a little bit more relaxed.
“But I think he will be a better manager and a stronger manager for the future. The best manager this country has produced in Sir Alex Ferguson was sacked many years ago so there's a lot of top managers who have lost their jobs and moved on and they have become better managers for that experience and I'm sure that will happen with Peter.
“The future for Peter is definitely back in the game, there's absolutely no doubt about that. He has played in high intensity matches, he's now been involved in difficult managerial situations and that only toughens you
“I've got absolutely no doubt that by the turn of the year he will be back in the game.”