Bowen is bookies' choice

Mark Bowen has emerged as a strong early front-runner to become the next manager of Norwich City. The current Blackburn assistant boss, who made 399 appearances for the Canaries between 1987 and 1996, was installed as 9-4 favourite to take over from Nigel Worthington by Ladbrokes.

Mark Bowen has emerged as a strong early front-runner to become the next manager of Norwich City.

The current Blackburn assistant boss, who made 399 appearances for the Canaries between 1987 and 1996, was installed as 9-4 favourite to take over from Nigel Worthington by Ladbrokes.

Bowen also led the early lists of Sky Bet (4-1) and bet365 (3-1), with rumours circulating that the Welshman might be looking to form a managerial partnership with his former City colleague Ian Crook, who is currently coaching in Australia.

Ladbrokes spokesman Robin Hutchison said: “In times of crisis clubs often go for one of their own in a bid to steady the ship and Bowen fits the bill perfectly.”


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Steve Freeth of bet365 added: “In hindsight our initial quote of 8/1 looked on the generous side, especially with Bowen's Norwich connections. He looks to be a popular choice amongst the locals.”

The 42-year-old ex-Canary was unavailable for comment yesterday - and as someone who is currently employed by another club that was perfectly understandable. A spokesman at Blackburn was also unwilling to add credence to the rumours, saying only: “We do not comment on press speculation.”

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But a Bowen/Crook reunion in Norfolk certainly has a nice ring to it and it would be interesting to see what would happen if they did express an interest in the vacancy created by Worthington's dismissal after Sunday's dire 4-1 defeat against Burnley.

Chief executive Neil Doncaster revealed yesterday that the club had already received an “encouraging number of enquiries and expressions of interest” in the post.

He refused to be drawn on potential candidates, but claimed the early signs were that the board would be able to choose from a wide pool of talent.

“The process of finding a new manager has begun,” he said. “I won't be speculating on who that might be, but what I can say is that we have already received an encouraging number of enquiries and expressions of interest from a number of high calibre individuals.

“It's very important we move forward, together as one, and get the right man in the job and get on with the business of turning this season around.

“We will take into account all those who have expressed an interest and we will make the decision in the time it takes.”

Alan Curbishley is Ladbrokes' second favourite to replace Worthington at 6-1, with rumours that he was spotted at Carrow Road on Sunday perhaps doing something to shorten his odds. But a number of well respected sources suggested the former Charlton boss would have bigger fish to fry and was unlikely to consider managing the Canaries.

Doncaster was unwilling to comment on the speculation yesterday but was surprised by claims that Curbishley had watched the Burnley fixture

“I don't believe he was here - I think he was in New Zealand,” he said.

City coach Martin Hunter, who was named caretaker manager on Sunday, is joint third favourite with Ladbrokes to get the job at 7-1 alongside - somewhat surprisingly - former Ipswich manager Joe Royle.

Other names in the various betting lists include a number of high-profile names currently out of work, namely Bryan Robson, former City manager Gary Megson, ex-England boss Glenn Hoddle, Peter Reid and Kevin Keegan. Dave Penney, who guided Doncaster from the Nationwide Conference to League One before leaving the club, also gets a mention.

Amongst the employed managers being mentioned are Luton's Mike Newell, Steve Tilson of Southend, Sunday's tormentor-in-chief Steve Cotterill of Burnley, Martin Allen of Milton Keynes Dons and Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez. One report in the Northern Ireland suggested a job swap, with Sanchez coming to Carrow Road and Ballymena-born Worthington heading back home to try his luck at international management.

At the moment all manner of names are being suggested - and joint majority shareholder Michael Wynn Jones was giving nothing away on the early candidates.

“The only thing we are not looking for is a quick fix,” he said. “We are looking for high calibre. We have very positive views about the type of manager we want. I am not going to go into that in detail now - but they will have to match up to that.”

Ladbrokes odds: Mark Bowen 9/4, Alan Curbishley 6/1, Martin Hunter 7/1, Joe Royle 7/1, Bryan Robson 10/1, Gary Megson 12/1, Mike Newell 12/1, Steve Cotterill 14/1, Brian Kerr 14/1, Glenn Hoddle 14/1, Martin Allen 16/1, Lawrie Sanchez 16/1, Mel Machin 16/1, Doug Livermore 20/1, Peter Reid 20/1, George Graham 25/1, Kevin Keegan 25/1, Brian Kidd 33/1, Graeme Souness 33/1, Steve Bruce 33/1, Dion Dublin 33/1, Chris Sutton 33/1.

Skybet odds: Bowen 4-1, Hunter 8-1, Robson 12-1, Cotterill 12-1, Dave Penney 14-1, Livermore 14-1, Allen 16-1, Dublin 16-1.

bet365 odds: Bowen 3-1, Curbishley 4-1, Hunter 8-1, Alex McLeish 12-1, Steve Tilson 12-1, Nigel Pearson 12-1, Robson 12-1.

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