OLE Gunnar Solskjaer and Mick McCarthy head the list of potential candidates as Wanderers begin their search for a new manager today.
Former Manchester United striker Solksjaer, now in charge of Norwegian club Molde, is believed to be top of the Whites’ wanted list, with ex-Wolves and Sunderland boss McCarthy also a genuine contender to succeed Owen Coyle, who was relieved of his duties yesterday after nearly three years in charge. The club have pledged a “thorough process” as they draw up a shortlist, and have not set any deadlines for when they expect to unveil their new man.
It is understood chairman Phil Gartside is on the lookout for a “young and hungry” new boss, and looks willing to try and snatch Solskjaer from under the nose of Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers, who are themselves in the market for a replacement for Steve Kean.
But sources in the Midlands also suggest that McCarthy has been sounded out for the role, seven months after he was sacked as manager at Molineux.
Wanderers are unlikely to be short of offers and are keen to take their time in order to find the right man.
Sammy Lee and Jimmy Phillips have been put in temporary charge of the side, and will take the players for training when they return to Euxton on Thursday.
Other names in the frame are thought to be ex-United midfielder Roy Keane, Bolton-born Barnsley boss Keith Hill, former Wanderers assistant Phil Brown and former Preston, Derby and Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies.
Coyle departed the Reebok yesterday with the club 18th in the Championship and having won just three of 11 games in league and cup this season.
The Glaswegian had been due to get a stay of execution despite Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Millwall, having agreed to give Sammy Lee a more prominent role at the training ground.
It was hoped that move would inspire better results after the international break but on Monday night, club owner Eddie Davies returned from a break in Hong Kong to discuss the poor league position and Coyle's future was ultimately decided.
After being considered pre-season favourites for promotion, the tag has weighed heavily on the Whites so far and they are now nine points behind chairman Phil Gartside's target of two-point-per-game.
Gartside has admitted himself that the club are under “100 per cent pressure” to bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt, but now find themselves six points off the play-offs and 11 off the leading pack.
Coyle insisted yesterday that he still expected the Whites to make good on their billing.
“I understand we had to hit the ground running this year and it’s not happened,” he said. “People say is it too early, I certainly believe we would have got promotion this season from the position we’re in.
“Ultimately the people who make the decisions want to seek a fresh face. But whoever that is they’re coming into a marvellous opportunity at a wonderful club. It will go from strength to strength and that will give me satisfaction, knowing that everything we’ve put in place will bear fruit.”