By Jack Gaughan
Blackburn Rovers have identified Roberto Di Matteo as the man they want to succeed Henning Berg and are already in the process of replacing the Norwegian’s backroom team, Goal.com can reveal.
Berg was relieved of his duties on Tuesday night after Rovers’ 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough brought an end to his 57-day reign as Steve Kean's successor.
The likelihood of Champions League winner Di Matteo accepting the job remains remote, while the early bookies' favourite Mark Hughes – a former manager at Ewood Park – has distanced himself from the post.
The Blackburn hierarchy were on Wednesday already sorting out a management team for the weekend’s game against Barnsley, and met with former Aston Villa coach Kevin MacDonald in order to try and rubber stamp his appointment as caretaker boss.
MacDonald is set to be joined by Judan Ali, described as a rising star in coaching, and a man whose cause global advisor Shebby Singh championed when Kean left the club.
It is understood that Alex McLeish was discussed at the meeting with MacDonald – the pair worked together at Villa Park - and could switch his interest to Rovers, but the former Scotland manager was announced as the new Nottingham Forest on Thursday evening.
MacDonald and Ali are expected to be joined in some capacity by midfielder Danny Murphy, who was brought to the club in the summer with a view to getting him involved on the coaching side.
Colin Hendry and Gary Bowyer, the only senior members of staff remaining after all decks were cleared, took training. Hendry, the former club captain, had been demoted to the position of reserve team coach earlier this month.
Singh, Derek Shaw and Paul Agnew, the trio who collectively decided to compromise their own wishes to make the decision to appoint Berg 10 games ago, have been urged to employ an experienced manager to appease the supporters.
Di Matteo has that at Championship level after winning promotion with West Brom in 2010, but is unlikely to drop down the divisions after success at Chelsea.
The club took five weeks to get Berg in, a candidate who was nobody’s first choice, but Rovers are determined to make a swift appointment and put in place a backroom staff to entice the right sort of manager to Ewood Park.