IS John Pemberton the man to stop the rot at Sheffield United?
The bookmakers certainly believe the club’s academy director is in pole position for the vacant managerial post.
Indeed, Sky Bet shortened his odds of succeeding Micky Adams at the helm from 4/1 to 1/3 following significant backing.
Pemberton, who made over 70 appearances for United before building a formidable reputation as a coach, is expected to be in the frame for the post, having impressed the club’s hierarchy with his exploits at youth team level.
He has taken the Blades’ youngsters into the FA Youth Cup Final for the first time in their history and the team will play the first leg of their two-legged final at Bramall Lane next Tuesday. They claimed a notable scalp in the semi-finals of the competition, knocking out the holders Aston Villa 3-0 on aggregate.
Young guns, including Jordan Slew, George Long and Harry Maguire, have all received call-ups to the senior squad following their impressive performances under the tutelage of Pemberton.
Originally, Pemberton opened as 4/1 joint favourite with Leyton Orient’s Russell Slade to become United’s new boss but a flurry of wagers in the Yorkshire region prompted Sky Bet to reduce his odds.
United are now searching for their fifth manager in the space of 10 months after axing Adams, who failed to stop the club from dropping into the third tier for the first time in 23 years.
Matthew Bell, editor of Flashing Blades fanzine, believes the firing of Kevin Blackwell started the decline.
“A lot of it goes back to the timing of the sacking of Kevin Blackwell,” Bell told The Star. “People could not understand the timing of it.
“If he was not the man for the job, he should have gone in the summer not after three matches.
“If they had stuck with Kevin, they might not be in the position they are in now.”
He added: “The new manager needs to be given three years. It is all about stability and we have not had that since Neil Warnock left.”
Former United legend Keith Edwards wants continuity at the top and said: “We`ve had four managers in a season and paid the price.”
John Pemberton: The leading candidate to replace Micky Adams. Pemberton spent three years at Bramall Lane during his playing days. Appointed academy director last May, Pemberton has steered the youngsters to the FA Youth Cup Final.
AIdY Boothroyd: Led Watford on a shoestring into the top flight in 2006 after beating Leeds in the Play-off Final. Since departing Vicarage Road, he has managed Colchester United and Coventry City. He was sacked by the Sky Blues two months ago.
Russell Slade: Has a wealth of experience in management and had two spells as caretaker boss at United in the late 1990s. His Leyton Orient outfit finished just one point outside of the top six in League One.
DANNY WILSON: The former Barnsley and Owls chief guided Swindon Town to the League One Play-off Final 12 months ago. He resigned as manager of the Robins in March.
Victor Chandler: 12/1
sean o’driscoll: One of the contenders after Gary Speed’s departure. O’Driscoll was given permission by Doncaster Rovers to speak to United about the role. A stumbling block was the hefty compensation fee Rovers would have commanded.
dean saunders: Played for United in 1997-98 season. The 46-year-old has previously worked as assistant to Graeme Souness at Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United. His Wrexham side slipped to a 5-1 defeat to Luton Town over two legs in the Blue Square Bet Premier Play-offs this month.
Paul Hart: It is thought the ex-Barnsley chief was interviewed for the role after O’Driscoll turned down the chance to succeed Speed.
Victor Chandler 20/1
CHRIS WILDER: An outside contender, having enjoyed two spells with the club as a player. Wilder, the manager of Oxford, was linked with the United role following Speed’s decision to take charge of Wales last December.