Runners and riders called to start line

Peter Grant's departure plunges Norwich's board back into the managerial marketplace barely a year after the Scot came up on the rails to succeed Nigel Worthington.PADDY DAVITT casts his eye over the formbook to pick out a selection of the fancied runners and riders.

Peter Grant's departure plunges Norwich's board back into the managerial marketplace barely a year after the Scot came up on the rails to succeed Nigel Worthington. PADDY DAVITT casts his eye over the formbook to pick out a selection of the fancied runners and riders.

You know the saying - there's no such thing as a poor bookmaker. If favourites never lost then Paul Jewell would be punching Carrow Road's post code into his sat nav in the very near future once the previous incumbent had given his desk the final once over.

The major odds layers have installed Jewell at the head of a lengthy queue of thoroughbreds, course and distance home favourites, old stagers and rank outsiders.

Norwich's hierarchy once again find themselves cast as the official handicapper - drawing up a checklist to separate the nags from the good things.

Grant's appointment heralded a shift to youth, freshness, a modern, forward-thinking, driven manager looking to strike out on his own.

City's board were forced to rip up their betting slip after Grant's re-modelled side pulled up lame yet again in a second half horrorshow at QPR this week.

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Does the failure of the Grant experiment trigger a lurch the other way - to experience, a wise old head, a manager who can handle the going and weight of expectation? Do they stick steadfast to the path they took this time last season but under a new, young jockey? Or the hybrid model - Watford's bright, upwardly mobile Adie Boothroyd in tandem with the implacable Keith Burkinshaw appears to be proving a winning combination for connections.

But wait. Any fantasy football wish list must be tempered by the prize money on offer. Norwich's current financial health has been well documented in recent weeks - to which you can add a decent severance package for their ex-manager. Can City attract the best unattached jockeys or pay compensation for those already in existing yards?

Chief executive Neil Doncaster confirmed yesterday that the club had already started to sift through applications. Norwich's current dwelling in the lower reaches of the Championship is unlikely to quell interest in taking over a club that was operating in the Premiership two short years ago and with a fan base the envy of most in the second tier.

Recent experience offers one valuable lesson at this early stage - rule no one out. How many green and yellow punters would have backed West Ham's assistant boss little over 12 months ago?

FRONT RUNNERS

Paul Jewell (4/1)

Jewell is proven over the Championship course - piloting unfashionable Bradford into the top flight in 1999 and clinging on to their status with a last day victory over Liverpool.

The Scouser later repeated the feat with Wigan before guiding them to 10th in his first Premiership campaign. Was linked to the England job after Sven-Goran Eriksson's departure following the 2006 World Cup. Remained with the Latics but jumped ship to recharge his batteries after securing Wigan's survival at Sheffield United. Jewell is currently a fixture on the media circuit but was linked with the Leicester managerial vacancy and recently revealed he had knocked back offers for a management return. Would he be willing to drop down in grade after mixing it in the Premiership? Could City put together a financial package to attract Jewell?

Martin Allen (5/1)

Fired by Leicester chairman Milan Mandaric barely three months into his East Midlands stay. Failed to guide Brentford and MK Dons through league play-offs but an abrasive personality hugely popular with his own club's supporters. Could he be the strong character needed to unify City's squad after persistent rumours of dressing room discontent in the final months of Grant's tenure?

Mike Newell (8/1)

Outspoken character out of the game since being sacked by Luton in March after Town's downturn was compounded by getting himself embroiled in debates over female officials and alleged corruption within the game. Had turned around Luton's fortunes prior to his sour Kenilworth Road footnote. Guided the Hatters to the League One title in 2005 and went on to establish Town in the Championship on a tight budget. Linked with Ipswich, Derby and Leicester before penning a four year deal at the start of last season. Would Norwich want the extra baggage Newell's return to the game would inevitably generate?

UNPROVEN DEBUTANTS

Dion Dublin (11/2)

A cult figure with City supporters after returning to his first club last season. Announced during the summer this year would be his last as a player. Already carving out a media career but could the 38-year-old former England international be tempted into management alongside a seasoned campaigner? Hugely respected figure among his team mates and within the game after a high profile playing career that included stops at Man United, Aston Villa and Celtic.

Mark Bowen (11/2)

Reportedly on the Canaries short list 12 months ago. Bowen's City credentials are well documented in a successful nine year playing career at Carrow Road where he clocked up 321 appearances. Brings a wealth of Premiership and international coaching experience after working alongside Mark Hughes. Was linked with the Swansea post in February but does Bowen harbour serious ambitions to be a number one? Would City want to repeat the Grant experiment with a rookie manager? Sure to be financial implications if he was to break his Rovers contract.

OUTSIDERS

Steve Bruce (12/1)

Birmingham boss and former City stalwart who has recently hinted he could leave St Andrews if the proposed Carson Yeung-takeover goes through. Offered a new contract by the current regime which remains unsigned until the club's ownership situation is resolved. Guided the Blues to two Championship promotions in his six years after brief managerial spells at Huddersfield, Wigan and Crystal Palace. Watched City's Championship defeat at QPR earlier this week. Would Bruce want to drop out of the top flight and could City match his expected financial demands?

Paul Ince (16/1)

Former England international cutting his teeth as a manager after a distinguished playing career at Man United, Inter Milan and Liverpool. After an aborted start at Swindon guided Macclesfield to League Two safety last season. The Silkmen were seven points adrift at the bottom when Ince joined before escaping the drop on the final day. Linked to the vacant Coventry post during the close season but moved to MK Dons where the ambitious club are currently top of League Two. Guaranteed to raise City's profile but would Ince be willing to leave unfinished business at the Dons?

Neil Warnock (16/1)

Pulled out under starters orders. The abrasive Yorkshireman reportedly set to be unveiled as Crystal Palace's new manager. Was hardly likely to be a punters' favourite.

Usual suspects Peter Reid and Glenn Hoddle unsurprisingly surface on most bookmakers' listings. Easy to back and it's not hard to see why. Represent the old guard. Reid guided Sunderland into the Premiership and Hoddle got Swindon promoted to the top flight as player/manager in 1992 but failed to repeat the trick at Wolves. Both now appear content to carve out media careers.

CARETAKER BOSS

Jim Duffy (8/1)

Grant's stable mate and poised to be in charge when City resume their Championship campaign at home to Bristol City following the international break. Coaching spells at Chelsea and Portsmouth combined with a wealth of managerial experience north of the border at both Dundee clubs and Hibs. The Scot understandably will not rule himself out of the permanent running but results during his interim period at the helm will dictate his chances. The club's board decided against prolonging the caretaker experiment 12 months ago when Martin Hunter took over from Worthington.

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