'Business as usual' with Chris Wilder at Middlesbrough this morning despite Bournemouth links

Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder
Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder

IT has been business as usual at Middlesbrough this morning, with Chris Wilder present at Rockliffe Park despite intense speculation linking him with the vacant managerial position at Bournemouth.

Wilder is the bookmakers’ favourite to take over at the Vitality Stadium, but senior Middlesbrough sources remain adamant there has been no formal approach from the Cherries requesting permission to speak to the Boro boss.

Wilder was at Middlesbrough's Hurworth training base as usual this morning as preparations continue for Saturday’s return to Championship action at Coventry City, with the club fully expecting him to be in the dug-out at the Coventry Building Society Arena this weekend as Boro look to haul themselves out of the Championship’s bottom three.

The speculation linking him with the Bournemouth job began to build over the weekend, and has intensified significantly in the last 24 hours as his price with the bookmakers has collapsed.

Wilder was widely available at around 8-1 in the market for the next Bournemouth boss on Sunday afternoon, but bookmakers began slashing their prices on Sunday night and he was no bigger than 1-3 to take over at the Vitality Stadium for most of this morning.

Gary O’Neil has been performing caretaker managerial duties since Scott Parker was dismissed, and was in charge of the Cherries for their last game before the international break, a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United at St James’ Park.

O’Neil hopes to be appointed on a permanent basis, but Bournemouth’s board have always intended to assess some external candidates and Wilder has been touted as a possible contender from the moment Parker was relieved of his role earlier this month.

The Boro boss’ own position in the North-East has been coming under increased scrutiny in the last few weeks, with the Teessiders currently in the relegation zone after a poor start to the Championship season.

Last season, Wilder was heavily linked with a possible move to Burnley, and refused to rule out a switch to Turf Moor on two separate occasions when he was asked about the speculation in interviews. However, Burnley eventually opted to appoint Vincent Kompany as Sean Dyche’s successor.

The incident damaged Wilder’s standing in the eyes of some Middlesbrough fans though, and the Teessiders’ form dipped in the closing stages of last season and has not recovered in the opening month-and-a-half of the current campaign.