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Feb 15, 2005
Tilson pings a big, curve ball down Norwich's throat as City try to pick their way through the minefield
Mon 9 Oct 06

Shrimpers boss Steve Tilson threw a large curve ball Norwich's way this weekend as he revealed that Southend chairman Ron Martin had refused the Canaries permission speak to him.

Intriguingly, however, he refused to rule himself wholly out of the running.

"I haven't ruled myself out," he told Radio Norfolk. "I'm just not in a position to put myself in it at the moment."

Squaring that particular circle is just one of the many potential headaches facing both the Canary board and chief executive Neil Doncaster this week as they look to pick their way through the managerial appoinment minefield and emerge, limbs intact, with a successor to Nigel Worthington.

That - particularly with targets that are curently in work and under contract elsewhere - is far easier said than done.

They have, for example, to persuade people like Shrimpers chairman Ron Martin at Roots Hall to change their mind; to let them officially speak to his highly-regarded manager. Martin sticks to his guns and should City pursue their interest and find themselves face-to-face with Tilson in a formal interview and all manner of tapping up charges could follow - it would, in every likelihood, leave them over the proverbial barrel when it came to any compensation claim.

Sources in the Midlands claimed that the West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace had been quoted a figure of £250,000 in terms of a compensation package for Tilson - that and more is likely to apply to bookies favourite Mark Bowen at Blackburn Rovers with Mark Hughes' No2 having only recently agreed a new, three-year deal at Ewood Park.

In fairness to Tilson, he was well aware of the situation he finds himself in - though he at least confirmed that the Canaries had made a formal approach to Martin with a view to adding the 40-year-old to their final short-list.

"My chairman spoke to me and said that Norwich had phoned to get permission to speak to me and it got turned down," Tilson told Radio Norfolk.

"So I've got to be very careful - it's a difficult one for me. With the chairman saying that - that he won't even speak to them - my hands are tied.

"I could turn round and say: 'Yeh, I'd love the job, the club are big...' but with the chairman saying that, it's difficult for me to say that.'

Tilson - apparently out of the running at The Hawthorns as West Bromwich Albion draw up a three-man short-list reported to feature Alex McLeish, Tony Mowbray and Cardiff's Dave Jones - has long been linked to the City vacancy.

With good reason. Back-to-back promotions - first via a 2-0 Play-off Final success against Lincoln City and then last year's League One title triumph - ensures that the 40-year-old is one of the Football League's hottest managerial properties.

Like free agent and double promotion winner Dave Penney, he has medals on his cv; likewise, he has that young, hungry and ambitious feel to him - qualities that are understood to figure high on Norwich's wish-list as they shy away from hiring one of the 'older' hands that have been doing the rounds. Bryan Robson, for example.

The downside to Tilson - and it is hardly his fault - is that he remains in a job. Like Bowen at Blackburn, Crook at Sydney United and, potentially, Peter Grant at West Ham United, actually deciding that Tilson is City's man might be the easy bit - someone then has to sort out an exit deal with Southend, Rovers or whoever.