Manager latest: Lee Clark in attendance as Hartlepool United's slide continues - but Matthew Bates admits he's an outsider for post
Former Newcastle United midfielder Lee Clark was an interested spectator from the directors' box as Hartlepool United slipped to yet another home National League loss.
The out-of-work Geordie, who has managed Blackpool, Huddersfield Town and Birmingham City, has been linked with Pools managerial hotseat almost continuously for the last few years.
Clark, who also watched Pools on Boxing Day at Gateshead, sat just yards away from chief executive Pam Duxbury as well as current caretaker Matthew Bates' agent Nick Loughran.
It is understood the 45-year-old, who last managed Scottish Premiership outfit Kilmarnock, would be interested in taking over now, following the sacking of Craig Harrison last week.
Clark is well fancied with bookmakers, but is not quite as well backed as Bates, who could well be handed the reins until the end of the season with budgets so tight at Victoria Park.
But despite being favourite to be the next Pools manager, Bates thinks the bookies have got this one wrong.
He said: "The bookies don't know anything.
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"I don't know where it has come from - I don't think it will happen.
"The situation the club is in I think it would be unlikely I get the job at this stage.
"Normally the bookies know best - not this time."
Bates insists he fully expects to just be keeping the seat warm for another manager to come in and take over in time.
"I would expect a new manager to come in," the former Middlesbrough, Bristol City and Bradford defender.
"I am a caretaker holding the reins until someone comes in.
"How long will it be? A week, a month, to the end of the season? Who knows?"