New owner and chairman Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth has promised to announce a new Oxford United manager ‘imminently’.
Thanakarnjanasuth, known as Tiger, confirmed at his formal unveiling on Monday that Craig Bellamy was one of four candidates the club is speaking to about the vacant manager’s job.
Former Wales striker Bellamy, currently part of Neil Warnock’s backroom staff at Cardiff City, has long been the bookies’ favourite to replace Pep Clotet, who was sacked more than five weeks ago.
But on Tuesday night Bellamy, who is a pundit for Sky Sports, revealed he had withdrawn from talks.
Tiger refused to confirm who the other candidates were but that an announcement was due to be made by yesterday (Wednesday). There was no further update as we went to press in the morning.
The Thai businessman told this newspaper on Monday: “We haven’t decided on anyone yet, [not] until within a day or two.
“I wish [for a swift appointment], if there is someone and we like him. It may not happen, so I don’t want to commit to anything.
“I know it is important to make the decision as soon as possible.”
The 55-year-old had experience of recruiting a manager during his stint at Championship side Reading.
He was part of a consortium that ran the club for three years until last May, but was only more hands-on in the final year.
Tiger spoke proudly of his appointment of former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam, who steered the Royals to the play-off final, at which point Tiger left the club.
He said: “I talked to six or seven guys face-to-face and my last two candidates were Jaap Stam and Erik ten Hag [now at Ajax] and finally I had Stam in the team.
“You can bring in world class managers but there is no guarantee that you are going to be a success.
“There’s your common sense – track record, past record, performance, personality, management, is all involved – but I think 30 per cent is your gut.”
Tiger, who gets his nickname from the year of his birth in 1962, the Year of the Tiger, confirmed he invested in the club’s January transfer window, prior to his formal takeover last Thursday.
After arriving more than an hour late to his press conference – the rail network was to blame – full details of his ambitions for the club were thin on the ground.