The 'friends' of ex-Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd this morning told the world that the Norwich job was 'his' – just as club chairman Roger Munby was confirming that this weekend was all about short-lists and next week was all about interviews.
Read the News Of The World today and it was all-but a done deal as the one-time Canary Academy coach plays his Malky Mackay card and is handed the chance to steer the Canaries away from the Championship drop-zone – kicking off with the home clash with Southampton in ten days time.
“The ex-Watford boss has told friends the job is his after Northern Ireland chief Nigel Worthington turned down the chance to return to Carrow Road,” the paper claimed this morning.
Boothroyd himself could be found in the Sky commentary box at Deepdale for the Preston-Burnley derby game – a diplomatic absence from watching his potential new employees in action against Barnsley? Or was their a hint of a suggestion that behind the headlines, Boothroyd might be slightly lukewarm to the idea?
That maybe, with that big promotion on his CV, he feels there is a bigger job out there than keeping the Canaries afloat in the Championship?
Read the News Of The World, however, and the job is in the bag. “He is now the Canaries top choice to take over from Glenn Roeder and plans to raid his old club for assistant Malky Mackay.”
Listen to Munby as he spoke to the Press in the “transformed” atmosphere of yesterday's 4-0 win over Barnsley – as masterminded by stand-in boss Bryan Gunn – and the timetable was clear. Short-list interviews next week; appointment in place by the Saints game.
It was, of course, a short-list that might now have B Gunn's name added to it. The 45-year-old City goalkeeping legend was spending the rest of the weekend “having a little think” as to what next after what he described afterwards as “an amazing experience” guiding his beloved Canaries to such a stirring second-half dismissal of the visiting Tykes.
“I wouldn't dream of commenting on that,” said Munby, quizzed as to whether the short-list now had A Boothroyd, B Gunn and the bookies' weekend favourite, Paul Ince, on it. Certain of the usual suspects might not be too far away either. Forest's Colin Calderwood might be keen on a swift return; ditto regular Championship warrior, Iain Dowie.
Was the short-list in place? “Yes.” And would interviews start next week? “Yes.”
Which was as far as he would be drawn. “We can comment on the process – but not the content. That just wouldn't be right.”
But part of that process includes this need for someone to 'get' Norwich and Norfolk. That much is increasingly clear. And having made such a demand so public, it would now look very odd if the next manager of Norwich City Football Club didn't have someone with Carrow Road connections in the mix.
Indeed, if a Dowie, a Calderwood or an Ince were serious about the position, they would be well-advised to start thumbing through their contacts book now and finding someone who could join 'Team Ince' and tick that big box. Which is why Boothroyd might be tempted to think it's a done deal – he has that box well and truly ticked if he can, indeed, persuade Mackay to return to Norfolk with him.
“I would say that it is vital,” said Munby. “Absolutely vital.
“I think it is something that we've missed at a senior level in coaching over the last 15 months.”
People tend to give 'one of their own…' more of the benefit of the doubt; they get more time – time that the Geordie mafia were never going to be granted once Roeder decided to ruffle all-too many Norfolk feathers.
“When the chips are down you need to be able to count upon every sinew of resilience that you can command in and around this football club. And, of course, the cohesion of this football club and the county is so great that you cannot do without that element. It's important – it's got be there.”
So whilst it might not be the No1 criteria, is it up the pecking order?
“There aren't that many boxes to tick – but it's one of the key boxes,” he confirmed.
Asked whether he felt vindicated for the decision to terminate Roeder's contract earlier in the week, Munby was basking in a certain after-glow of a boil lanced both well and early.
“I feel extremely pleased about a very good result,” he said, as the Canaries lifted themselves to 19th. For the likes of Watford, Charlton and Southampton their agonies continue.
“What I've seen this afternoon has been full of spirit and commitment,” he added. “And a fulfilment of a bunch of talented individuals in the first team squad. And I think it's great – and it's great for Gunny [Gunn].”
Did he sense a change? A could lifted? “I think you can see the transformation – before to after. That's self-evident, isn't it? That's my conclusion and it must be the conclusion of 24,500 people.”
It was the breakdown in the manager's relationship with the majority of those same 24,500 supporters that brought matters to a head.
“You cannot tolerate a distance or any sort of antagonism between the football club – particularly the manager – and the public of Norfolk and Norwich.
“And Gunny closes that gap – he's a bridge-builder. And he's responsible for a great spirit this afternoon. And you could see that transformation.
“Tuesday, I think, was the most abject atmosphere that I have ever experienced at Carrow Road and you just cannot go on like that. It had to change.”