SCIENTIFIC surveys are not, and never have been, the staple diet of this column, as regular readers will no doubt attest.
So, it should come as no surprise to learn that this week’s offerings on Huddersfield Town and their search for a new manager are loosely based on a straw-poll taken by yours truly on Twitter yesterday afternoon as to who should be Mark Robins’s successor.
The replies – once the mischievous Leeds fans who suggested Dave Hockaday had been discounted – made for interesting reading, with many Terriers fans plumping for Tony Pulis, just ahead of Neil Lennon, Chris Hughton and Chris Powell.
A couple of nominations were also made for Malky Mackay despite the Scot’s recent controversies, while there was also support for Steve Clarke and Tim Sherwood.
Quite a cross section, and a good illustration of the task facing Town as they look to manage supporter expectation while closing in on an appointment that is expected during the international break.
With the best will in the world, a manager of Pulis’s calibre is unlikely to see any club in the Championship as his next step. Nor would his wages, after six years of being successful in the Premier League, fall within the bracket Town are able to pay.
To be fair to many of the respondents to yesterday’s impromptu Twitter poll, they did acknowledge that the chances of Huddersfield landing Lennon or Hughton, never mind Pulis, were slim.
Whether this realism extends to the club’s wider support, though, remains to be seen with some fanciful posts having appeared on internet messageboards since Robins’s departure on August 9.
Town, to their credit, have kept their business in house. No one outside chairman Dean Hoyle, chief executive Nigel Clibbens and head of football operations Ross Wilson truly knows where the club’s search is at right now. That said, The Yorkshire Post has spoken to agents and various well-informed figures in the game, and a few things have been established.
Lennon and Mackay did speak to Huddersfield. Neither man, though, is in the running with Lennon – who like Pulis commanded a big wage in his last job – indicating that, despite being impressed by what the Yorkshire club had to say, he was holding out for an offer from a Premier League club or, failing that, a job in the upper echelons of the Championship.
Mackay was of a similar mindset before the revelations of last week that cost the Scot the Crystal Palace job.
Hughton, Sherwood and Pulis were never realistic options due to Town, despite the millions pumped in by Hoyle, still having resources which pale alongside most others in the second tier, needing to comply with the new Financial Fair Play rules.
So, where does that leave the club? Seeking to extend their successful policy of recruiting young players with talent to nurture – for example Jordan Rhodes, Anthony Pilkington, Adam Clayton – under an appropriate manager.
Powell, who did an excellent job at Charlton, is on the shortlist and very much fits the bill.
So, too, Steve Pressley, who since applying for the Town job in the wake of Simon Grayson’s departure has built an impressive reputation with Coventry City.
Billy McKinlay, assistant manager with Northern Ireland, is also understood to be highly regarded by Town along with Karl Robinson of MK Dons and Fleetwood’s Graham Alexander.
All have what Town want – fire in the belly and the ability to get the best out of talented young players.
It promises to be a fascinating final decision.