The race for the managerial vacancy at Carrow Road took a couple of intriguing twists this weekend with one-time bookies favourite Chris Coleman effectively ruling himself out of any move amid a claim that Paul Jewell was unavailable to work for anyone until November 1.
Both men have already been widely linked to the Reebok vacancy; both continue to be linked to the Norwich post following the recent resignation of Peter Grant.
Jim Duffy's hopes of securing the position on a full-time basis took a potentially fatal blow with yesterday's 3-1 home defeat by Bristol City.
Grant's No2 will now have to pull out a huge result or two at either Burnley on Tuesday night and again at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday – or both – if he is to win any boardroom or terrace vote.
The suspicion remains that Norwich have already set their sights elsewhere with the club's majority shareholder Michael Wynn Jones revealing after Thursday night's AGM that the club had already interviewed five men for the job.
Interestingly, he also suggested that it would by wholly unrealistic to expect anyone to be in place before the West Bromwich Albion game on October 27.
He was, however, more bullish about the prospects of unveiling the new manager ahead of the derby clash with Ipswich Town on Sunday, November 4.
Now tie that into the line from club director Andrew Turner that whatever happens there must not be a “penny pinch” solution to the biggest dressing room appointment of this boardroom's lives and then add this little gem from the Bolton Evening News yesterday: “The suspicion being he has a clause in his severance contract with Wigan disqualifying him from joining another club until November” and a possible 'Jewell in!' scenario emerges.
For those who like a good detective story, the Guardian ran a line on Friday linking Jewell to the Reebok vacancy, but revealed that the ex-Latics boss was currently away on a family holiday in Dubai.
Given this is prime appointment time for any manager of his calibre, that would then tally with Dave Whelan's reported insistence that his former Wigan manager not reappear back on the managerial circuit until late autumn.
So either Bolton chairman Phil Gartside has decided he cannot afford to wait until November 1 when Jewell potentially comes up for grabs. Or else he has already approached the former JJB Stadium hero and been roundly knocked back – hence his chase for Steve Bruce at Birmingham, Gary Megson at Leicester and Coleman at Real Sociedad.
“We told Bolton that Chris Coleman has a three year contract and we want him to see out his full contract with us,” a spokesman for the Spanish club was quoted as saying by the Bolton Evening News.
Over at Sky Sports and the man himself was quoted at greater length. Again, he appeared to be following the line offered by agent, Alan Smith, that for now he was staying firmly put.
“I signed a three-year contract with La Real (Sociedad), I said all along that the thing that would tempt me away from La Real would be the Premier League,” said Coleman, quoted on www.skysports.com.
The former Fulham boss – whose wife Belinda and their four children have remained in the UK whilst dad heads for deepest Basque country – denies that Bolton have even made an official approach.
“Bolton have to ask me to go to Bolton, this hasn't happened, and La Real have to say 'Okay, you can leave…', and this hasn't happened,” he said. Coleman was expecting more where that one came from as one or two anxious chairmen started to sharpen an autumn knife.
“I understand the speculation but in the Premier League managers lose their jobs quickly in a season, and maybe in a month, or two months, there will be a different club with no manager, and maybe I'll be linked.
“I have seen the speculation, my name has been linked to Bolton, as have many names in England, but for me I am at La Real.”
For Coleman to now say that and then swap life at Real for a club 23rd in the Championship – let alone one at the foot of the Premiership – would be remarkable. Even by football's less-than-lofty standards of honesty.
Jewell's movements now remain of prime interest with sources in the North-West suggesting that his proximity to the Reebok worked both ways – in that as a near-neighbour he knows exactly how deep the club's problems go.
And on that basis, he may well be more tempted to try and add another promotion onto his cv with a club of Norwich's ilk than risk having his first relegation splattered all over it should he answer Gartside's rescue call.
Again, if somewhere behind the scenes there has been a wink and a nudge from the Turner camp that the 'penny pinch' rule will equally not apply to his actions in January's transfer window then Jewell could yet be tempted by the Canary gig.
As ever, however, life is never that straight-forward on the managerial merry-go-round. Because if reports of that November 1 return-to-work date are true, then Norwich might not be the only Championship club with a vacancy to fill by the time the family returns from the Middle East.
Newly-relegated Sheffield United are far from a happy ship under Bryan Robson with the Blades sat just two points above Norwich in the table – not somewhere chairman Kevin McCabe would have planned on being 11 games into the season.
With reports of a half-time fight between Lee Hendrie and Paddy Kenny in last weekend's defeat at Bristol City and awkward looking away trips to Leicester City and Hull City looming this week, Robson's reign could come ever more under the spotlight.
He is, of course, not the only manager feeling hot under the collar with Bolton target Bruce unsure where he exactly stands at St Andrews after Blues' new Far Eastern owner Carson Yeung refused to rubber-stamp the next year of his 12-month rolling contract.
And yet, in the same breath, refused to allow Bolton the chance to speak to the former Carrow Road skipper. All parties are now due to meet this week – including the Gold brothers, David Sullivan and Karren Brady, all of whom are expcting the takeover to sail through.
“Until I meet Mr Yeung face-to-face, there's nothing else I can say,” Bruce told the Birmingham Evening Mail this weekend.
“At the moment, we're all in limbo.”
Aren't we just…
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