Hartlepool United hope to appoint a new manager today following the breakdown of a move to bring in Paul Cox.
SportMail understands that plans to attract the Barrow boss had reached an advanced stage.
a Cox appeared, on paper, to have been a very legitimate candidate for the post.
However, it collapsed yesterday when the Bluebirds insisted they would demand a hefty compensation sum to release the 45-year-old from his contract at Holker Street.
Cox had two seasons of a three-year contract still to run, leaving the Cumbrian club in a very strong negotiating position.
SportMail has reported this week that Barrow would demand a high fee for the man who has just led them to seventh place in the National League in his first full campaign.
And that, seemingly, proved the stumbling block for Pools, with BBC Cumbria Sport reporting that United’s officials had withdrawn their interest “following a brief meeting with the club earlier today”.
It has not put Pools back to square one, it just means that they are no longer looking to employ the favoured one.
Chairwoman Pam Duxbury, speaking to a public meeting of the Hartlepool United Supporters Trust last night, said Pools had received over 50 applications for the post made vacant by the sacking of Dave Jones with just two matches of the campaign remaining.
Presumably, Duxbury is referring to ‘serious’ candidates, showing just what a pull the hot seat at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium remains, despite the club’s first relegation from the Football League.
Pools now have to go down their list and, while it may prove awkward for club bosses having to offer the job to a second or third choice, it is vital that man is employed quickly.
Incredibly, 19 days have elapsed since the last game and while it would have been wrong to act with haste, the phrase ‘dragging their feet’ seems to sum up the process at the Vic.
That process, following on from the disastrous appointment of Dave Jones, has left Pools looking like a club who appear to have scant clue at what they are doing.
SportMail understands that the panel selecting the manager, led by head of recruitment Paul Watson, believed they could prise Cox from Barrow without having to pay compensation, a staggering notion.
That group MUST get the right man and character in to lead the team and the club through what will be one of the most pivotal periods in the club’s history because there appears precious little real football knowledge or expertise inside the Vic at the moment judging by the current events and those of the last four months.
Cox appeared, on paper, to have been a very legitimate candidate for the post.
Several in the bookies list had experience of managing in the National League, but the Nottingham-born boss had shown he could get a team out after leading Mansfield back into the Football League in 2014.
Richard Barker has moved into the position of second favourite.
SportMail reported last week that the 2007 promotion hero was a late applicant for the job, even though he has just taken up a role as assistant boss at League One outfit Rotherham.
Former skipper and assistant boss Sam Collins remains a candidate, along with Gary Brabin, who managed Tranmere to sixth place in the National League in 2015-16.