JOHN CARVER is confident the time he spent working under Sir Bobby Robson and Kevin Keegan will serve him well in his role as caretaker-manager at Sheffield United.
But the 45-year-old is refusing to get ahead of himself by saying he wants the job permanently, having learnt from past experience that such bold proclamations can leave a coach with egg on his face.
Carver previously held the fort at Newcastle and Leeds United only for the top job to be awarded to more experienced operators, and with a host of managers with Championship credentials eyeing the Bramall Lane vacancy, he has no wish to repeat the mistake again.
Former Hull City manager Phil Brown and ex-Portsmouth and Barnsley chief Paul Hart have expressed their interest, while former Blades impressing in the lower leagues – Micky Adams at Port Vale and Chris Wilder at Oxford – have also been linked to the post.
For the immediate future, however, Carver – who won one of five games in charge of Leeds in the autumn of 2006 – is preparing United for the visit of Swansea on Saturday, and is looking no further than that important test.
"There is a part of everybody that wants to be a manager, but it's about picking the right time," said Carver, whose only previous experience in the top job was while head coach of Toronto in North America's MLS.
"It was the right time when I went to the MLS. I enjoyed that time, I learned so much from being the main man.
"What I don't want to do is get too far ahead of myself. That's why I'm going to take this nice and easy, nice and steady, and do the job the club has asked me to do.
"I'm not getting carried away with myself. It's dead easy to do that, I've done it twice before.
"When Ruud Gullit took over at Newcastle and gave me the first-team coach job I started believing in my own hype and I nearly lost the players, but I had the gumption to say to them 'I've made a mistake, give me a chance'. They did and I kicked on again.
"Then at Leeds I got ahead of myself and it was wrong. Now, I'm going to take things nice and easy and what will be will be.
"Anybody would be mad not to want to have a job at this football club. I will do whatever job is put in front of me for the time being.
"If something's going to develop it will, if not, I'll move on."
Carver has been given no time-frame by chief executive Trevor Birch as the Blades search for a second manager in four months following Gary Speed's decision to take the Wales job.
Nothing has been said between the two parties as to what will happen should the uncertainty still prevail come the opening of the January transfer window but Carver says the club will continue to look at potential signings.
"The part I don't enjoy is when you have to talk about money," he said when asked about his thoughts on the managerial position.
"That 18 months at Toronto was dead easy because I didn't have to talk about money due to the salary cap. Everybody knew what they had and you had to use it the best way you can.
"One thing I will say is I enjoy coaching, I enjoy the work on the training ground. I enjoy watching games, analysing games, breaking teams down."
Yet it is the man-management of players that was the greatest attribute Carver picked up from his years working alongside former England manager Robson at St James's Park.
He said: "Every single day was a learning process under Sir Bobby, you'd be a fool not to listen to what he had to say.
"It was the way he dealt with people, how he handled them and that's the most important thing in a football club. If you can handle your players, treat them the right way, then that counts for a lot more than just having quality players.
"I worked for Sir Bobby, Ruud, Kenny Dalglish, Kevin Keegan – some big hitters. They were all different characters, all different personalities, but the one trait that came out of the two that were successful – Keegan and Sir Bobby – were they were great man-managers.
"I'm as straight as a die, I call a spade a spade, I don't pull any punches. There's a ruthless side to me that these players haven't seen yet, but I have got that and I don't mind making players accountable for themselves, giving themselves ownership of what they do."
And it is that same respect he hopes the United board will afford him.
"The one thing I have said to the club is if somebody is coming into the club and they are bringing their staff in with them, don't mess me about, be honest and straight with me because that's the type of guy I am and I'll deal with the situation," he said.
Carver has been at Luton, Toronto and Plymouth since leaving Leeds and arrived at the Lane in August as Speed's first-team coach. The pair signed three-year deals and although Carver was non-commital on reports he would link up again with Speed in Wales, he did stress that settling in Sheffield was a priority for him.
Burton manager Paul Peschisolido yesterday distanced himself from the job, while Doncaster Rovers' Sean O'Driscoll had his odds slashed by the bookies.