David Sullivan has promised Birmingham City supporters that the club are looking a manager 'respected in the world of football' after Steve Bruce yesterday jumped ship for Wigan Athletic.
The Birmingham co-owner, no doubt mindful of the growing concern and frustration felt by Blues fans, last night spoke out in a bid to calm the unrest generated by the loss of their long-term leader and the faltering takeover of Carson Yeung.
Three weeks ago, Blues were careering along nicely upon their return to the Premiership. The team had just taken three points from Wigan after a 3-2 victory and Yeung, the Hong Kong-based businessman, had held 'positive' talks with Bruce.
But it appears as though Wigan, having lost the battle, have won the war. Bruce has agreed to leave Birmingham and join them, reserve-team manager Keith Bertschin looks set to follow him and Sullivan's counterpart, Dave Whelan, is making bullish noises about taking assistant manager Eric Black.
Birmingham confirmed they have installed Black as their caretaker manager and have publicly expressed a desire that the former Aberdeen man honour his contract with them.
Indeed, there are some at the club who view him as the long-term successor, although it is thought he wants to join Bruce in the Northwest, which means Sullivan is aware of the need for emollient words.
Thus, he chose to put a positive interpretation on recent events: "The usual suspects will be on everyone's lips but this could be a fresh start for Birmingham City," Sullivan said. "We are looking at candidates at a certain level, we believe a high one.
"It is difficult to try to get someone in who the dressing-room will respect. Do you take a chance on an unproven coach at this level, with a group of young players who will need guidance and will be looking for inspiration?
"Or do you go for a more experienced voice, someone respected in the world of football?
"We are looking at a certain type of person. Someone with a pedigree that will excite the supporters. We feel we have been supportive of Steve in the past as we have with all our other managers and that will continue as long as we are in charge at Birmingham City."
How long that will be is not clear. Yeung has asked for more time to expedite his takeover - a fact that will not please Sullivan and he will meet his backers today to move the deal on. But even if Yeung does manage to assume control of Birmingham, he will not be welcomed with open arms by supporters who rightfully feel that his interference in the club has cost them their manager.
Bruce was unconvinced by any assurance Yeung gave him earlier this month and was not only hamstrung by a lack of guidance about what he could spend in the January transfer window, but was also mindful of the fact that he could be replaced when the buyout was completed. It was that instability which forced Bruce into the arms of Whelan and might yet cost Blues the services of Black.
Certainly, chairman David Gold is reluctant to lose a third vital component of City's recent success in winning promotion from the Championship and making a decent start to the current campaign.
"I desperately want Eric to continue his responsibility to the football club," Gold said. "He is highly respected by myself and the rest of the board.
"We are desperate to keep all of our best people at the club - from the top to the bottom. Eric is a good coach, a quality person, he is multi-lingual and is highly regarded by the players."
Birmingham expect to make a formal announcement tomorrow, the same day as Bruce is due to be unveiled at Wigan for the second time.
He spent a seven-week period under Whelan in 2001 before he joined Crystal Palace, during which time he helped take the Latics into the Championship play-offs, where they lost to Reading.
Whelan was vexed by Bruce's decision but is sufficiently convinced that after Paul Jewell rejected a return to his old job, Bruce would not do likewise.
He has had to pay £3 million to test that conviction: "I'm delighted we've got him, I think he's a big loss for Birmingham and a big signing for Wigan Athletic," Whelan said. "He'll be a fantastic signing for Wigan Athletic. He's one of the best young managers in the land, I'm delighted we've got him and he'll bring enthusiasm, knowledge and spirit to our team."
If Black does remain in charge in the long-term, the bookmakers think a job swap is the most likely, with Paul Jewell having been installed as favourite for the St Andrew's hot seat.
* Former Birmingham City legend Ken Leek, hero of the 1963 League Cup win over Aston Villa, died yesterday at the age of 72.
The Welsh international forward scored twice in the final at Villa Park and enjoyed a three-year career with Blues, during which time he made 104 appearances and scored an impressive 49 goals. He also represented his country 13 times.