NEIL WARNOCK was last night edging closer to being appointed Leeds United manager, the Yorkshire Post understands.
The 63-year-old spent yesterday in Monaco with Leeds chairman Ken Bates and chief executive Shaun Harvey thrashing out the details of a possible return to Yorkshire.
No firm agreement is understood to have been reached before Warnock, whose main rivals for the Leeds job are Steve Bruce and Dave Jones, flew back to London Heathrow on the evening flight from Nice.
But Warnock, who earlier this week settled his compensation package with QPR following his sacking last month, is expected to be confirmed as the permanent successor to Simon Grayson over the weekend.
It means caretaker manager Neil Redfearn will remain in charge today when Doncaster Rovers visit Elland Road for a game United need to win to get their play-off challenge back on track.
When contacted last night about the possibility of Leeds having a new man in place over the next 48 hours, chairman Ken Bates said: “As a club, we have to make sure it is the right appointment and not the quick appointment.”
Former Sheffield United manager Warnock headed to Monaco after the White Rose club made clear their determination to head off serious interest from Wolverhampton Wanderers, who, as exclusively revealed in yesterday’s Yorkshire Post, had placed the former Sheffield United manager at the top of their wanted list to succeed Mick McCarthy.
Wolves owner Steve Morgan had met Warnock for lengthy talks on Thursday night at his Cheshire home and the pair hit it off immediately.
All manner of topics were discussed, including an in-depth assessment of the Wolves squad, before the meeting broke up with Morgan promising to deliver an answer over the weekend.
Earlier in the day, Morgan had held a similar meeting with Bruce while Alan Curbishley was interviewed by the Premier League club on Wednesday.
Warnock is interested in the Molineux role and another crack at managing in the top flight.
However, as this newspaper made plain yesterday, the former Scarborough chief also remains very interested in the prospect of joining Leeds.
So, when United made their interest known in the wake of Tuesday night’s dismal defeat at Coventry City, he was more than willing to listen to what the Championship club had to say.
A meeting was hastily arranged and Warnock flew out of London yesterday morning before completing the rest of the trip to Monaco by road.
Bates, who made clear a couple of weeks ago he would not be at Elland Road for either of this month’s two home games due to rules that restrict tax exiles to spending just 90 days per year in the UK, is then understood to have sat down with Warnock to thrash out a deal.
It was the second time they had met to discuss possibly working together with Bates having offered Warnock the Chelsea job in 1991.
However, after having just led Notts County to back-to-back promotions, Warnock opted to stay at Meadow Lane and steer the Magpies through the last season of the old First Division.
This time around, the talks are believed to have gone well and, subject to a few contractual issues, an agreement that will see Warnock become Grayson’s successor is expected to be confirmed some time over the weekend.
With Glynn Snodin and Ian Miller both having left the club with Grayson on February 1, United’s new manager will have free rein when it comes to naming his own backroom staff.
Keith Curle, his assistant at QPR, was at Elland Road a week ago watching the 2-1 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion, suggesting the former England defender could also be on his way to Yorkshire.
Leeds moved for Warnock after the experiment to hand Under-18s coach Neil Redfearn the reins on a temporary basis backfired.
After a 3-0 win against nine-man Bristol City in his first game, the club’s hope was that confirming Redfearn in the role for at least the next three games would help breathe life into a faltering push for promotion.
Instead, however, a 2-1 defeat at home to Brighton was followed by a hugely disappointing reverse by the same score at bottom club Coventry City on Tuesday night.
With the 3,000 fans who made the trip to the Ricoh Arena voicing their displeasure at the failure to recruit a permanent appointment, the Leeds hierarchy recognised the experiment had failed and turned their attentions to finding a successor to Grayson.
That search ended yesterday with the decision to appoint Warnock, who providing he joins Leeds will be taking charge of his fourth Yorkshire club.
After leading Scarborough into the Football League by winning the Conference in 1987, he enjoyed successful spells with both Huddersfield Town and Sheffield United. As a player, he also appeared in the colours of Rotherham United, Barnsley and York City.
The fervent hope of the United hierarchy is that the appointment of a manager with seven promotions on his CV could be the key to ending an absence from the top flight that is now in its eighth season.
Should Warnock take Leeds back into the Premier League, it will mean he sets a new record with Dave Bassett and Graham Taylor also having seven promotions apiece to their name.