Bristol Rovers poised to put Shaun North and Marcus Stewart in charge
Bristol Rovers are today expected to confirm that assistant manager Shaun North and development coach Marcus Stewart will take temporary control of team affairs following Mark McGhee's departure from the club.
McGhee was relieved of his duties minutes after the final whistle following Rovers' disappointing 4-1 reverse at the hands of York City on Saturday evening and the club confirmed in a short statement that they will reveal their plan of action going forward today.
The players, meanwhile, are set to arrive at the Cribbs Causeway training HQ as usual this morning and will be put through their paces by North and Stewart before chairman Nick Higgs confirms at a specially-arranged press conference this afternoon that McGhee's former lieutenants will be in charge for Saturday's clash with Rotherham at the Memorial Stadium.
The timing of McGhee's sacking raised speculation that the board had already sounded out a potential successor and would unveil him today, but Memorial Stadium sources yesterday suggested that scenario was unlikely.
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Higgs was unavailable for comment when contacted yesterday. But he is expected to try and make a rapid appointment with the January transfer window in mind – details of the process by which he hopes to achieve that are expected to be revealed later today.
In a short statement issued on Rovers' official website on Saturday night, Higgs explained his decision to relieve McGhee of his duties by saying: "We had hoped that the appointment of Mark McGhee would give the club some stability and long term progress, but unfortunately that has not been the case.
"We have decided that we can no longer continue with the current situation and had to make the difficult decision to part company with Mark. We decided we had to act now before it was too late."
North takes temporary control for the second time after filling the position on an interim basis following the sacking of Paul Buckle last season. He took charge for the FA Cup third round defeat at the hands of Aston Villa, but secured a win and a draw against Hereford United and Crawley Town respectively before McGhee was installed.
North was last night an 11/2 joint second favourite with bookmakers to land the job permanently, while Stewart, meanwhile, has been installed as the early 6/4 favourite.
Stewart, 40, who started a 19-year-playing career as a youngster at Rovers, returned to the club as a development coach over the summer and had been working closely with McGhee in a bid to help the 18-21 year-old age group make the transition to senior football.
Stewart, however, would take the post as a rookie manager, having not yet taken charge of a senior side.
Stewart has experience as part of the coaching staff at Exeter City and has passed the UEFA 'A' Licence and is currently working towards the UEFA Pro Licence.
Given the club's current predicament in the League Two relegation zone, the board may look to bring in an experienced man in a director of football role, like John Ward.