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Pardew is surprise contender as Rangers step up hunt for boss

By Jim Gracey

Alan Pardew is the surprise latest name in the frame as Rangers' search for a new boss to replace Mark Warburton switches to London.

Ibrox chiefs now plan to recruit both a manager and a Director of Football, sooner rather than later, following Sunday's shambolic defeat at Dundee.

Prospective candidates have already been interviewed with a reshaped management structure in mind.

Sources close to the process now say further meetings have been arranged with hopeful contenders in London over the next few days - and that step has propelled former Newcastle and Crystal Palace boss Pardew into the reckoning.

Former Gers boss Alex McLeish remains the bookmakers' favourite for the top job, but the change of focus to a dual appointment and the emergence of the planned London talks connection has moved Pardew onto and up the shortlist ahead of the likes of Derek McInnes, Northern Ireland's Tommy Wright and Frank De Boer.

Pardew (55) is a highly regarded coach and fire fighter at troubled clubs, leading Crystal Palace to last season's FA Cup final loss to Manchester United before his dismissal earlier this season following a poor run of results. Pardew has been tagged as an England job contender at various stages of his career. A potential stumbling block for Light Blues supporters, however, could be his past relationship with his former employer at Newcastle and Rangers stakeholder Mike Ashley, against whom Gers fan groups have protested.

It remains to be seen whether the link proves a help or hindrance to Pardew's chances of landing the Ibrox job.

Ross Wilson, Southampton's director of recruitment and scouting, is one of those who has already met with Rangers' managing director Stewart Robertson with a view to taking on the new Director of Football post, but there are at least another three candidates vying for the role.

However, no appointment for either position is expected before the weekend, meaning club U20s coach Graeme Murty is again likely to be in charge when Rangers travel north to take on Inverness on Friday night.

Murty was again at the helm at Dens Park on Sunday, but he could do little to halt Gers' faltering run that has now seen them win just one of their last six Ladbrokes Premiership fixtures.

Paul Hartley's Dark Blues were stronger all over the pitch than their visitors from Glasgow.

And they claimed a deserved 2-1 win -their first over the Light Blues on Tayside since 1992 - thanks to first-half strikes from Mark O'Hara and Kevin Holt.

Joe Garner did pull one back after the break but Rangers were unable to find an equaliser and the result now means the Ibrox side trail Aberdeen by six points in the race for second behind runaway leaders Celtic.

With fourth-placed Hearts just five points behind, Gers' plans for a return to European competition could be put in considerable jeopardy if they fail to turn around their worrying form.

It is that prospect which is spurring Dave King's board into action to install their new management team before the first round of league fixtures in March.

Belfast Telegraph


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