Even Chris Morgan thinks there is truth in the gossip that Nigel Clough will take charge of Sheffield United. The Blades' caretaker manager has offered his backing to the potential appointment of the former Derby County manager and says a decision will be made early this week.
"There'll be a new manager in this week and hopefully we get a bit of spark," Morgan said. "Clough is the name on everybody's lips. If it's him, I'll look forward to it. He's had a good few years at Derby [who dismissed him a fortnight ago] and he's produced some excellent young players. There's been nothing said internally but we expect an announcement this week."
The earlier this week the better as far as United are concerned, as he will need to iron out the disturbing flaws seen in the first hour of this performance against Coventry City before they face Port Vale next weekend.
United lacked thrust and were unable to cope with a Coventry side whose speedy passing exploited countless holes out wide – until the 62nd minute, that was, when the substitute Lyle Taylor sparked a spirited but failed comeback. It was as if David Weir's midweek sacking had not jolted United at first.
Coventry had led through two well-executed goals. The first, in the sixth minute, came when Leon Clarke volleyed home a deflected Blair Adams cross with his right instep. The second combined a beautiful move with a beautiful finish. Carl Baker fooled his marker on the wing and picked out Callum Wilson, who rifled home first-time into the top corner. It was Wilson's 10th goal of the season, making him the division's top league scorer.
Coventry were fortunate to see the half out with 11 men when Andy Webster made two bad challenges in succession but earned only one yellow card. United were so abysmal that even against 10 men they looked as if they would struggle.
"I said to the players this morning that Kevin Blackwell came into the club on Valentine's Day [in 2008] and we were a point off the bottom three, and we only missed out on the play-offs by a few points," Morgan said. "That was from February and this is October. So, if we want to pick up and have a right good go at this league, then it's there for us. But if we put in a first-half performance like that, it'll not be good enough."
Clarke added Coventry's third four minutes into the second half, slotting into the corner past the stricken Blades keeper, before United fought back. Taylor rifled a free-kick through the wall and into the net following a foul on Conor Coady 20 yards out.
United were a different side thereafter – menacing, energetic and optimistic. Taylor's headed goal in the 80th minute was not enough to rescue a draw, though, and they now sit bottom of the table.
The Coventry manager, Stephen Pressley, praised the visitors' tenacity but expressed his concern at the decision to jettison his old Hearts and Scotland team-mate Weir.
"I have to stress that I think it was the wrong decision, I really do. If you're going to make a decision at the start of the season to go a different way and implement a philosophy that runs through your club, trust me it's not easy. It takes time. But the one thing I will say is they have some very, very good players, and anybody who inherits that has got the opportunity to create a very good team."
Pressley's side are progressing swiftly through League One despite the 10-point penalty they were handed going into the campaign. Sixfields is proving a rich hunting ground.
"Considering what we've been through, having 10 points is a remarkable tally at this time. You certainly get your money's worth here; 29 goals in six games. And our front two have scored 18 goals between them. Not that I like my stats!"
Coventry may even eye up the play-offs now – something they have never experienced since losing their top-flight status 12 years ago.
The Blades need simply a win to get them going, something they have not managed since the opening day of the season. Their owner, the Saudi Arabian Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad, who took control of the club last month, will not be prepared to wait much longer.
Man of the match Leon Clarke (Coventry City)