United’s chief executive Nigel Clibbens gave us an update on the club’s search for a new manager at the monthly director’s press conference held at Brunton Park on Friday morning.
“We said last week that we felt we were getting closer, and I outlined all of the areas that we are considering as part of the ongoing process,” he said. “That’s things like staffing models, expectations from all sides and how a manager should conduct his business. We were at the point where we were discussing those issues with our leading candidates.
“As things progressed over the weekend we reached a conclusion with one of those candidates, and we have all decided to move on from that one. We’re continuing to talk with the others, so this week we’ve been having discussions of a similar kind with other people.
“Obviously that’s taking its time and we share the frustrations the fans are feeling. We understand the concerns, and we’re all getting plenty of emails from supporters who are giving us their thoughts.
“We know there’s a need to get the appointment made, for a number of very good reasons, and we have some excellent candidates that we’re working with at the moment. I’m sure we’ll get the right man for the job very shortly.”
“In terms of naming or confirming candidates, we’ve said all along that we weren’t going to get into doing that,” he added. “The reason for that is that if you’re taking part in a process, and you’ve put your name forward, you need to know you can do that with the confidence that whatever happens the process has been conducted properly.
“That means that if you apply for a job you wouldn’t expect your prospective employer to be sharing publicly that you’ve applied, what you’ve talked about and how far along that process you got. That isn’t the right thing to do, so we’ll continue to do the right thing, which is not to comment on rumours and speculation about who the candidates might be.
“We know that means there will be occasions when we can’t address rumours which could be seen as damaging, but we think we have to stick to the principle of what we feel is the right way to conduct yourself through what is an important process like this.”
One direct rumour which surfaced on social media on Thursday night was a tweet from a member of experienced manager Russell Slade’s family which appeared to suggest that he had been appointed as United’s new boss.
“That is a different situation, I agree, because of the source of the tweet,” he commented. “I was notified about it late last night and by the time I got to Twitter to have a look it had been deleted.
“As I say, we wouldn’t usually talk about it, but this is from a source very close to an individual. The club has had no contact with that person, he hasn’t been discussed by the board, and he hasn’t been part of our process.
“Obviously that means nobody has agreed anything and the process carries on. It was a bit of a left-field one, everybody got excited, but as far as we’re concerned we know nothing about it.
“I can categorically confirm that he has not been part of the managerial appointment process, is not currently part of the appointment process, and has not been contacted by the club.”
On the time taken to make the appointment, he said: “We’ve gone about this process in a very thorough and professional way. At all points, via updates at the end of every week, we’ve explained to the supporters what it is we’ve been doing.
“From the moment it was clear we were parting company with Keith [Curle] we collected a whole host of names, we filtered those through and we created our short-list. We looked at them against the criteria of the type of manager we want.
“That needs to be somebody who knows the league we’re in, or who can get to know it very quickly. It needs to be someone who can manage us at this level, and get us out of the division, because it’s all about promotion and then driving us forward.
“The search was narrowed down, we identified the leading candidates, as we mentioned last week, and we started to have discussions with them. The reality of this type of process is that when you start to get into the detail, things come out and everybody must have the same shared view of how you will go forward.
“Sometimes that means it doesn’t come off with certain people. That’s when you part company and go on to other things. That’s where we are, and I don’t think any of that is what you’d describe as shambolic, it’s simply trying to do it professionally and taking the time to get the right person.”
With an update on season ticket sales figures, he said: “At this stage last year we had 1,880 season tickets sold, with 1,501 sold as things stand today.
“The early buy and renewal period has been extended because we are aware that there are a number of fans who have contacted us to tell us that they’re waiting to see who the new manager will be.
“That’s another reason why we accept that we need to get on with the process of getting the manager position sorted. Our fans are looking forward, but they want to know what’s going on in terms of the manager.
“I think that could give us all a big boost and we’ll see what happens to the numbers once we have the process completed. We won’t give a definite timescale, because that in itself causes anxiety, but we know it needs to be done as quickly as possible. We’re pulling out all the stops to try and do that.”