Matthew Bates is in the frame for the vacant Hartlepool United job.
The interim boss stressed in the aftermath of the club’s drop into the National League that he is NOT putting himself forward to be the next manager.
Bates is feeling the pain of relegation as much as anyone connected with Pools, especailly having come so close to engineering a great escape thanks to Saturday’s 2-1 win over Doncaster in one of the most dramatic and devastating days in their history.
The 30-year-old was put in charge, alongside Billy Paynter, Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher after then-chairman Gary Coxall called time on a dreadful three-month reign by Dave Jones following the 2-0 defeat by Barnet.
Asked if he would like the job, he said: “I don’t know, I’ve just been relegated.
“It’s a difficult one to answer, but I’m sure the club will sit down with us this week and tell us how they want to go about things.
“Do I want the job? Yes, I do at some point in my life.
“Is it now? I don’t know.”
Bates & Co could not save Pools, but the way they have lifted the players and club, have surely given much food for thought.
“The lads reaction to me going from a player to this has truly humbled me,” said the Stockton-biorn defender who is still under contract as a player for a further season.
“Would I like to lead this group of players? Yes I would.
“Is it the right time? Who knows. Is it what the club wants? I don’t know.
“I won’t know until the coming weeks.
“If you asked me a month ago would I be in this seat, I’d have said ‘no chance’.
“Everyone in this room would have said the same.
“I’ve been given it in odd circumstances and yet I’ve enjoyed the day-to-day work which comes with it.
“But the moment I feel lower than a snake’s belly because our club has been relegated.”
Bates has shown immense potential, that is for sure, in a short space of time.
It would be logical, should the club be keen on him, that an ‘older hand’, someone with experience of managing in either the lower divisions or National League would be essential to work with him.
But the idea of the former Middlesbrough captain managing the club at a tender age should not be seen as fanciful.
Intelligent, thoughtful, quietly spoken and highly-respected, Bates would have to be a candidate, unless chairwoman Pam Duxbury and the board already have someone already lined up.
Marcus Bignot emerged as an early favourite in the betting list and turned up to watch Pools at Cheltenham.
But there are loud warning bells around the 42-year-old after he was sacked by Grimsby Town after only five months at the helm after it was claimed a number of first team players were refusing to sign new contracts if he remained in the post.
Given the painful experience of manager-player relations from the Jones ‘era’, Pools may be advised to give Bignot a wide berth.
Ex-Leeds boss Neil Redfearn was among those with odds in single figures with former Bury chief David Flitcroft also touted.
Curtis Woodhouse, former Sheffield United midfielder turned British light-welterweight champion, has also had his name whispered though his managerial experience is less than a full season with Bridlington Town.
Pools need a new, permanent manager, and fast.
There is a retained list to formulate and signings to be made and though speed is of the essence, they must ensure they get the right man this time, following the disastrous appointment of Jones.