Ex-Pompey manager joins race for Fratton job

Steve Claridge.  Picture: Allan Hutchings (132620-578)
Steve Claridge. Picture: Allan Hutchings (132620-578)

Steve Claridge is the latest name to emerge as a contender for the Pompey manager job.

The News understands the former Blues player boss has applied for the vacant Fratton Park role.

Claridge is among the candidates who will today meet the Pompey board at a location in Newbury for the first day of interviews.

Also on the short-list are Richie Barker and current Oxford manager Chris Wilder.

However, Newport County yesterday announced they had rejected an approach to speak to their manager Justin Edinburgh.

Regardless, Barker remains a strong contender and would come with Steve Coppell, who would serve in a director of football-style role.

Coppell has now left Crawley, where he was working without a contract, and it is believed would not request a wage for linking up with Pompey.

The possibility of the duo working in tandem at Fratton is an intriguing one having struck up an excellent working relationship at the Reds in League One.

Claridge’s arrival in the manager hunt is also a fascinating one and it is understood he has lined-up Steve Walford and Steve Guppy for his backroom team if successful.

Walford has spent more than 18 years alongside Martin O’Neill, working with him at Celtic, Aston Villa, Leicester and, until last season, Sunderland.

The former West Ham defender headed O’Neill’s coaching set-up during their time together, entrusted to look after matters on the training pitch with the manager rarely present.

As for Claridge’s ex-Leicester team-mate Guppy, he is currently a coach with the Republic of Ireland having worked in a similar capacity at Wycombe and Stevenage.

Claridge is eager to prove his quality as a coach and the trio would accept reduced wages believed to total less than Whittingham’s in a bid for the opportunity to impress.

He would also be keen to retain first-team coach and former team-mate Alan McLoughlin in his backroom.

Claridge was previously Pompey manager for 137 days under Milan Mandaric, overseeing 23 matches.

Mandaric sacked him in February 2001 to employ Graham Rix, the owner demonstrating the impatience with Blues managers he was renowned for.

He would later spend an ill-fated 36 days as Millwall boss before being shown the door after being caught in a power struggle between chairman Jeff Burnige and Theo Paphitis in June 2005.

Claridge went on to manage Weymouth in the Conference, taking them from 17th to third in the table, only to leave following a change in ownership.

Mark Catlin has previously told The News the shortlist will contain four-five names.

Interviews are taking place in Newbury in order for privacy.