Stuart Gray has been as uncertain as anyone about who will be the next manager of Sheffield Wednesday.
He gave a distinct impression at an unusually-well-attended, routine, pre-match press conference yesterday lunchtime at Middlewood that he would not say no to the job himself.
What he is sure about is that tomorrow’s clash with Forest must come first.
He wants the same sort of performance from the players which brought victory against Leicester and hopes that once again the crowd will play their part. A repeat would do his own standing no harm.
He regarded the confirmation of him being in charge for a second successive game as something that buys Milan Mandaric more time:
“But the most important thing is getting the lads ready for the game; I thought it might be only one game, against Leicester, but it was a good result and performance; it probably bought the chairman a bit more time to carry on his interviewing,” he said.
The outcome on Tuesday also set fans wondering whether Gray would be staying, maybe as manager for the rest of the season, or working under a new boss.
Was he interested? “It’s a great job for any manager in work or out of work,” he said. “But all my energy is focused on trying to get back-to-back good results and performances.”
Gray had read that there was a five-man shortlist. Was he on it? “I would hope so,” he said.
“I don’t know who else is on the list. Like I said to the players, all they can do is focus on the performance, and we want a repeat on Saturday.”
Gray had also read that Neil Warnock was on the shortlist: “It just shows the quality of the applications, Neil is very experienced and knowledgeable and has had success at other clubs.”
Gray, very experienced as a caretaker manager, admitted that he was “enjoying the moment”.
He added: “I’m pleased to have bought the chairman a bit more time. He asked me to take charge of the team on Saturday; long may that continue.
“If we get a result, I might be sitting here next week when you’re interviewing me about the Watford game. I haven’t applied for the job. Let’s just get the game out of the way, then we’ll probably review it again.”
When asked why he had not applied, he said: “I’m too busy! I was at Leeds on Wednesday watching Wigan because we’ve got Wigan coming up. I’ve got training with the players and am trying to get the team organised to get another win.
“It should be a good atmosphere. I think Forest are bringing 4,000. We have to make sure it’s not ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ for us.”
But Gray went further, on his wish to be on the shortlist: “It’s a fantastic club. You just have to see the quality of the alleged applicants. I think Neil is desperate for the job,” he said.
“There were 40 to 50 applications. I have to accept it and do my job to the best of my ability. All my energy and focus is devoted to the Forest game.”
He said he had not been told anything yet by Mandaric about his future should another manager come in: “I’m contracted here; I’m doing as I’m told, He’s asked me to take charge and I’m enjoying it.”
Gray has been caretaker at several clubs, including Southampton and Wolves when he held the reigns after Dave Jones had gone. “You’re looking over your shoulder and you think if a guy does come in, do you feature in his plans? Does he want to bring other members of staff? That’s why I lost my job at other clubs,” he said.
“I’m experienced enough to accept that. I’ve not had a conversation with the chairman about whether I stay or go.
“The only thing I can control is what happens in and around the dressing room and on the training pitch.
“It’s a results-based business. If we hadn’t won on Tuesday, you wouldn’t even be linking me with the job.”
Gray has been pleased with Glenn Loovens, who made his debut against Leicester after international clearance arrived: “There’s no substitute for quality. The first yard is in the brain - Glenn reads the game well. He and Roger Johnson worked many times together at Cardiff.
“Unfortunately it was fitness that caught up with Glenn on Tuesday, the intensity. He’s a bit sore and stiff but we’ll throw him out there on Saturday.”