Mark Hughes has distanced himself from the Blackburn Rovers job, leaving the former Aston Villa coach Kevin MacDonald as favourite to head up a new managerial set-up at the club following the departure of Henning Berg from Ewood Park.
Berg and his managerial team were sacked by Venky's, Blackburn's Indian owners, after 57 days in charge at Ewood Park. The Norwegian presided over a single win in 10 matches which have left Rovers 17th in the Championship. Berg's last match in charge was the 1-0 defeat by Middlesbrough on Boxing Day.
The early indications are that Venky's now want to bring in MacDonald as head coach. The Scot left Villa Park in the summer and is still understood to be on the payroll at the Midlands club where he also served as a caretaker manager. MacDonald has been credited with a key role in the production of a series of promising young players at Villa but has always retained aspirations of being a manager in his own right.
Hughes, who has had spells playing for and managing Blackburn, has been linked with succeeding Berg. However, it is understood the post is not attractive to the 49-year-old at this time. Blackburn have also courted another of their ex-players, Tim Sherwood, in the past without success.
Berg is thought to have clashed with the Blackburn hierarchy in recent weeks. Before his appointment, he had controversially claimed: "To work as a manager for a club you need the right owners and to take over as a manager in a club with owners like that is madness."
Reflecting on his departure, Berg said: "It goes without saying that I am bitterly disappointed to have been relieved of my managerial duties at Ewood Park after just 57 days since my appointment.
"It was an honour for me to manage a club that is so close to my heart and I now wish all of them every success for the rest of the season and beyond.
"I would also like to thank the players and staff for their support and commitment in this short period. They have all done their best and unfortunately the results in these 10 games have not reflected their performances.
"I wish the club all the best in the future and am sure that with a few additions in the January transfer window they will have a good chance of getting a playoff place."
Balaji Rao, a director of Venky's, was quoted in the Indian media as saying: "We have not been doing well and dropping points and losing matches quite often. I want to go up."
Rovers, in their own brief statement, said: "Blackburn Rovers FC has announced the departure of manager Henning Berg, assistant manager Eric Black, first team coach Iain Brunskill and goalkeeping coach Bobby Mimms with immediate effect.
"This decision has been taken following a very disappointing sequence of results. The club thanks the four men for their efforts and wishes them every success for the future."
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image: © Ronnie Macdonald