United’s director of football David Holdsworth confirmed at the club’s Tuesday press conference that Tommy Wright and Paul Murray are due to lead the team into the weekend game against Northampton Town as the board look to make their decision on the vacant first team manager’s position as quickly as possible.
“Tommy and Paul are doing a fine job and we don’t want anybody to come in and upset things,” he said. “They are both good guys and I think they’re a good blend.
“They’re both working very hard and I thought they did very well in the dressing room together on Saturday. They were calm and demanding, and we had a team that took the field having been prepared correctly.
“As we sit here today Tommy and Paul will take the team at the weekend, as they did last weekend. I’ll support them in the same way I did for that game, and we’re all looking forward to another good performance.
“The key with them is that they’re both fine and calm. I’ve reassured them both that we don’t want either of them to go because they’re part of our club. It could happen that we decide these good guys are the way forward, but that also has to be evaluated. We’ve won a game, but there’s a big picture here, and sometimes we have to think outside the box.”
On the expected timeframe for making a decision on the position, he said: “Our ship is very, very steady. Our structure is very good, and our job now is to look closely at the applicants we get.
“We’ll take a mature, calculated view, but I will stress that we’re in a good place. Whoever comes to this club, we’ll have made sure that we’ve tried to do the right thing for our fans and for our players.
“The process is already taking place and the board will make their decision given the facts on those candidates we put forward. There are some excellent names who have come forward and expressed a desire to do the job, and we’ll look closely at those who we feel will come into our structure and help us to push on.
“This isn’t a job for a journeyman, or someone who sees it as a quick fix. There’s no timeframe because there’s no panic. We thank those who have already applied and whether it takes a day, a week or however long, we just want to get it right. I feel very confident that the club is in a really good place, and that’s why it’s important that we do this properly.”
When asked if a new person would be bringing his own staff into the club, he said: “What I will say is that we aren’t going to make wholesale changes.
“If that was forced upon us, in terms of some potential manager telling us what they want to do, we’ll decline it, because we want to keep our structure right.
“There’s no need to go out and spend money we don’t need to spend because, as we’ve seen over the last few days, people want to come and work here for the right reasons. I see that as a good thing.
“It isn’t often that an opportunity arises to take over a club that’s just won six on the trot. To keep this club going forward it will be with a manager, or head coach, who will be able to work with the players within the structure and design we already have in place at the club.
“A new manager won’t come here and start signing eight or nine players, that isn’t going to happen. We’ll be managing this transfer window whether we have a manager in place or not.”
“We’re keen to have a person as a leader, be that Tommy or another individual, who will work within the framework of what we want,” he continued. “It’s imperative that we’re constantly thinking about how to go forward as a club.
“That means that if there’s a manager who wants to bring a management team in here, he’s not coming. In terms of how we do it, and how we define the role, John Sheridan was supported from day one from everywhere around the club, and he managed and coached the team.
“If we now need someone to come in and coach alongside Tommy and Paul, we’ll look at that. People who make our shortlist must tick our box, rather than have them coming here for the wrong reasons. Whoever comes in will find a good structure and nothing much will need to change.”
Speaking from a club point of view on the caretaker duo, chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: “They’re absolutely secure here. We’re benefitting from the continuity these guys bring.
“We wanted to get away from the situation that when managers change you’re starting from scratch again. We’re open-minded about them and they have really stepped up in what are tricky circumstances.
“As we’ve just discussed, going forward there’s far more value to a manager managing what happens on the pitch, but it means someone has to do all the other stuff. More and more clubs are going down that route.”
And on the process of appointing the next manager, he told us: “We sat down as directors on Saturday and we set out our plan of action.
“We agreed we would collate names, those names would go to David, and he would then make some general enquiries to see if their aspirations fitted with ours.
“We talked about sifting through to get a shortlist by the end of the week, so that we can start interviewing as soon as possible. How long it takes to go through that process to get a name over the line can be tricky.
“That’s why it’s hard to give exact timelines, but we want to do it as soon as we can. We’re in a good place, which means we don’t need to rush to get someone in, only to regret it later.”
“We know we’ve got a great opportunity here given our form and where we are in the table, and as a board we want to take maximum advantage of that,” he confirmed. “We know these chances don’t come too often, and when they do you have to grasp them.
“The board wants to do that, but it won’t come at the cost of putting this club in the position where if it doesn’t work, everybody is looking round and thinking we’re in a crisis. We have to get the balance right, but we know there’s a great opportunity for us.
“All board members are aware of where the process is at, as you would expect, and the final appointment will be a holdings board decision. It’s one man, one vote around that table. The process to get there will be myself and David working through the candidates to present the best ones we can to that board.”