Big Sam’s No.2 tipped to be Blackpool No.1

Neil McDonald

Neil McDonald

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Neil McDonald has emerged as a frontrunner for the vacant Blackpool manager’s job.

The West Ham assistant manager looks set to leave the London club following Sunday’s departure of team boss Sam Allardyce.

The 49-year-old McDonald has been number two at Upton Park for the past four years, having followed Allardyce south after Blackburn sacked the pair in December 2010. They first worked together at Bolton.

The Gazette understands that Tynesider McDonald is keen to speak to chairman Karl Oyston about the Blackpool job but wishes to conclude his business with the Hammers first.

McDonald is among the remaining ‘live’ targets on Oyston’s much-criticised list and was the bookies’ favourite for the job last night, listed at 3-1 on by Sky Bet.

His 15-year playing career was spent mainly at Newcastle United and Everton before stints with Oldham and Bolton. However, his last port of call, Preston North End (1995-99), is unlikely to go down particularly well with Pool supporters.

His only experience as a manager in England was a year at Carlisle (2006-07) in League One, winning 20 out of his 50 games, though he briefly took charge at Swedish club Ostersunds the following season and was Blackburn’s caretaker boss late in 2009 while Allardyce underwent heart surgery.

McDonald has become a vital part of Allardyce’s support staff. But with the former Blackpool manager hinting he will now take a break from football, the time may have arrived for McDonald to branch out on his own.

The other favourites with the bookmakers are Pool’s youth coach Richie Kyle and Bloomfield Road icon Ian Holloway.

The Gazette believes Oyston is keen to bring the out-of-work Holloway back for a second spell. However, the 52-year-old’s financial demands, plus his wish to see drastic restructuring work at the club, could prove stumbling blocks.