Hartlepool United should be just days away from getting a new manager.
The accent is certainly on the word should – we are closer to the end of May than we are to the start.
Pools were relegated to the National League on May 6. Of course, 16 days is small beer compared to some of the gaps between departure and appointment during the reign of Increased Oil Recovery.
But chairwoman Pam Duxbury hopes to have a new man at the helm this week.
A statement from the club’s chief executive, released last Friday, said: “We have had a panel of people working on the shortlist and we anticipate carrying out final interviews in the early part of next week with an announcement to follow as soon as possible.”
SportMail today looks at four key areas for the boss to prioritise.
Recruitment: One thing the new manager will NOT have to do is sort out the retained list – that difficult task has already been completed for him.
Nine players have been let go at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium, including two stars who, presumably, were on decent wages – Rob Jones and Billy Paynter.
It means there will be a few bob to spend on strengthening the squad for the rigours of the National League, FA Trophy and FA Cup.
There will be a lot of games next season, or should be. We’re back to that word should again.
Pools need depth but they also need a player or two who know what it takes to be successful at the top end of the National League.
Nous, physique, mental strength will all be key components Pools will require in the new players’ lockers.
But, they are late coming out of the blocks in their bid to sign these players.
Whatever you think about the players Pools signed 12 months ago, you could not accuse Craig Hignett of letting the grass grow under his feet.
All his major acquisitions were done before the start of pre-season training – there was no last-minute scrambling about.
The new boss needs to get working ASAP before the good players are all snapped up.
Future of leading players:
Pools have already sold Nathan Thomas to Sheffield United for a song, an incredible and, potentially, damaging decision.
Thomas was never going to stay and play in the National League, though the bargain sale is hardly good news for the new manager.
There could be decisions to make over the future of a number of key figures.
Will the likes of Trevor Carson, Padraig Amond, Nicky Featherstone, Lewis Alessandra and Michael Woods wish to play outside the Football League?
All are under contract so, unless they go on strike, then should Pools decide they will then they’ll have to turn up for pre-season training in the first week of July.
However, Pools are unlikely to stand in the way of Carson, who will need to play in the Football League for his Northern Ireland ambitions while Amond has already ploughed his way through a season in the National League and probably will not want to do another.
The duo may not command big fees, but Pools could expect some form of transfer while their exits would free up some wages to sign some proven talent for a promotion push.
While the new manager may leave any squabbling over terms for someone else to sort out, his appointment could have a bearing on whether the club’s out-of-contract players sign new contracts or not.
The Pools owners have clearly had their crystal ball out and have offered deals to three players who they feel the manager will want in his squad – Carl Magnay, Rhys Oates and Brad Walker.
Magnay has experience of the National League with Grimsby and given the lack of noise in the back four, he’s not shy to open his mouth.
Oates and Walker are both in their early 20s and could prove players who will be important to the club’s short and long-term future.
Striker Oates showed signs of promise when played through the middle, while Walker has made the switch from midfield to defence seamlessly.
The trio are important men for Pools and the new manager, you would assume, may want to impress upon them his desire to keep them.
Pools need to arrange some pre-season friendlies and pretty damn quick.
It is not just good players who are up for grabs, the same goes for plum opposition.
Pools require not only fixtures which will get the squad physically ready for a trip to Macclesfield on August 5. Or wherever.
They need a few money-making matches arranging at the Vic to swell the coffers.
The new chief may have to pull a string or two.