Scunthorpe United chairman Steve Wharton this morning issued the traditional 'Hands off!' warning over his highly-regarded manager Nigel Adkins – despite morning reports that an official approach was expected in the next “48 hours”.
Adkins, 44, has emerged as one of the candidates that would tick a number of significant boxes as far as Canary cheif executive David McNally is concerned – not least the fact that he has led United out of League One twice in the last three seasons.
The problem – like Paul Lambert at Colchester United – is the fact that he is in a job and doing well; Scunthorpe beat Derby County 3-2 at the weekend as they re-acquainted themselves with life back in the second tier of English football.
Hence Wharton will be in no mood to let his star managerial turn go.
As he made very clear when he spoke to the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph this morning.
“I have heard nothing from Norwich about Nigel ? and I hope it stays that way,” said Wharton. “I would be bitterly disappointed to lose him.
“But I am pleased we have a manager who other people are interested in. That is because he is successful. If he wasn't then there wouldn't be an interest.”
Whether Wharton was braced for an approach is, of course, another matter. The Iron chairman will be well aware that on the back of Adkins' latest promotion success, his manager will be a man in demand.
Likewise, having proved his point twice with Scunny, as much as Adkins himself is an Iron man, he too will be ambitious to test himself at a bigger club.
Whether he would willingly step down another level and go back round the same League One block again is, of course, something for the various interested parties to find out.
Wharton will also know that should an approach come, he is in the driving seat – that Norwich's need is urgent and immediate. McNally and the Carrow Road board cannot afford a period of drift after ditching club legend Bryan Gunn 24 hours before Saturday's 1-1 draw at Exeter City.
With the games coming thick and fast – the Canaries travel to Brentford tomorrow night – precious points are in danger of slipping away as the Norfolk club take yet another spin on the managerial merry-go-round. Sunderland No2 Malcolm Crosby was Sky's favourite for the gig this morning. Why, is anyone's guess.
What is very clear is that McNally is in no mood to wade through a 40-strong list of applicants, whittle that down to a short-list of five and then sit for a day in a London hotel coming to a 'committee' decision.
That recruitment process appears to have gone out of the window along with ex-City chief executive Neil Doncaster.
McNally, by contrast, appears to have set his sights on one man. And if he can't get him, then he'll go for No2 on his own list of ideal candidates.
Surgical strikes at digging out the best man for the job with the minimum of delay. It is an altogether more ruthless approach to managerial merry-go-rounds of years gone by.
It likewise 'fits' with the way that Gunn was disposed of last Friday. Sentiment doesn't get you too far in the modern football world. McNally and Co had seen all they needed to see in that 7-1 defeat by Colchester United.
“I definitely have got names in mind,” he told reporters over the weekend, as the ex-Fulham MD made it very clear that he had already pin-pointed a couple of candidates; all his powers of persuasion will now be brought to bear on the couple of gentlemen concerned.
And if one refuses to play ball, then he'll move onto the next. He won't be bogged down in four dozen cvs for the next three weeks.
“It's a short short-list,” he confirmed.
And I do have a pecking order, but I can't share those names for obvious reasons and I will do everything in my power to land the number one target.
“I will attempt to land my number one target and we will be persistent, determined and tenacious in our pursuit of our number one target.”
All of which merely heaps the pressure on McNally to be as good as his word.
This is the appointment that will do much to seal his own fate as Canary chief executive; get it right and McBally's star rises accordingly; get it wrong and he knows as much as anyone that in football you'll be judged on your results.
Hence David McNally needs a 'result' as much as anyone in the next 48-72 hours.