The Managerial Merry-Go-Round: Vacancies at Spurs, Everton, Wolves & Crystal Palace

Craig Hanson 3 weeks ago
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We take a look at the latest manager odds for the four Premier League jobs on offer

The Premier League season came to an end on May 23 and everyone turned their attention to Euro 2020. Then all hell broke loose. Managers from across Europe have been sacked, left their jobs, linked to their old clubs, officially returned to their old clubs, turned down big jobs - it just goes on and on. Life in top level management has been nomadic for a while now but this summer could see an unprecedented amount of movement between elite coaches and clubs. It's going on all over Europe. The majority of Bundesliga teams will be led by a different coach at the start of next season. High profile changes are happening in Italy and Spain. It's been a frantic first two weeks of the post season. We focused on the four vacancies currently up for grabs in the Premier League and who might be most likely to take them in the coming weeks.

Conte to Tottenham?

The biggest club on the list is Spurs. They parted ways with Jose Mourinho in April and appointed academy coach Ryan Mason as their interim manager for the remainder of the season. Interestingly, the decision was made just days before their League Cup final game against Manchester City, which they predictably failed to win. They were seventh in the Premier League when they sacked the Portuguese and that's where they finished. Any kind of "new manager bounce" failed to materialise and their season petered out. They are now staring down the barrel of the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League next season and star player Harry Kane is angling for a move away from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The club seems to be in disarray and many supporters worry about which coaches they can realistically attract.

The North London side were knocked back by Brendan Rodgers shortly after they sacked Mourinho, who emphatically declared his commitment to Leicester City. Long time target Erik Ten Hag signed a new contract with Ajax seemingly putting those rumours to bed. They have been linked with promising but unproven coaches like Graham Potter and Scott Parker. Fans had reasons to be concerned. However, in recent weeks, chairman Daniel Levy seems to have got serious and they have been involved in confirmed talks with elite level managers Mauricio Pochettino and Antonio Conte. It's understood that Pochettino would entertain a return to his old club where he feels he has unfinished business and for sure he'd be welcomed back with open arms by supporters, but the major sticking point is that he's under contract at PSG and they don't seem likely to budge. At this moment in time, Antonio Conte looks to be in the driving seat to get the job. He recently left Inter Milan after clashing with the club's hierarchy over money for transfers. To get Conte, big money will need to be spent.

Current Favourite: Antonio Conte

Who will take the Everton manager job?

The Toffees were second with 15 games played on Boxing Day 2020 and the decision to hire a coach with such a management career as Carlo Ancelotti looked to have been a masterstroke. His arrival in December 2019 was rightly treated as a coup at the time and that decision seemed to be paying off. However, shocking form in 2021 saw them eventually slump to a 10th place finish. Evertonians in general still believed in Carlo and would have backed him to go again next season. Then the news came that he was returning to Real Madrid, signing a three year contract at The Bernabeu. A bitter pill to swallow for everyone involved with the club but perhaps an opportunity to appoint a more suitable candidate for the long term? Ancelotti is used to being successful at the very biggest of clubs but a project like Everton may not have been the best fit for him. An optimist could see a silver lining.

Rafael Benitez has been linked with the job. The Spaniard has been successful in almost every job he's had, he's won major silverware, he's coached at the very top and he's also taken on challenging projects (e.g. Newcastle) and done fantastic work. He could be the right man to get Everton back into the Champions League picture but would he tarnish his relationship with Liverpool by joining their bitter rivals? Former boss David Moyes is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal at West Ham but to convince him to leave behind Europa League football and an exciting, dynamic squad he worked so hard to build would surely require significant financial compensation. Nuno Espirito Santo did a great job at Wolves but has left the club by mutual consent (more on that later) and is currently leading the race to take over on Merseyside according to bookmakers.

Current Favourite: Nuno Espirito Santo

Who will replace Nuno Espirito Santo at Wolves?

Nuno took Wolves from the Championship back to the top flight as champions, then secured back-to-back 7th place finishes, and gave the club a return to proper European football for the first time since they entered the UEFA Cup in 1981. Not only that but he steered them to the Europa League quarter finals where they lost to Sevilla in a modified, single-leg tournament. Who knows how far they could have gone if Covid-19 hadn't disrupted their season and they had had two legs to play against the Andalusians. They played an inhuman number of games across that historic 2019/20 season and that, along with losing star striker Raul Jimenez for the majority of the campaign to a devastating head injury, led to a disappointing third season in the top flight as they finished 13th, well clear of safety but far off previous heights. It's difficult to blame Nuno for their poor performances this season. A lot of external factors put the kibosh on the great momentum they built up over previous seasons. He announced a couple of days before the final game of the season that he would be leaving the club by mutual consent, bidding farewell to the club and moving on to search for the next project. He could well be Everton bound in the coming days.

While the other clubs on this list have been wrapped up in the never ending speculation of the modern football news cycle, Wolves have acted fast. They immediately targeted former Benfica boss Bruno Lage and it seems almost a done deal at this point. Lage was given clearance by the FA to move to the Premier League following some doubts over post-Brexit regulations. He won the title at Benfica in 2019 coaching a squad which boasted the likes of current Player of the Season contender Ruben Dias. They scored over 100 goals in that campaign and Wolves fans can expect an exciting, attacking brand of football at Molineux next season. Lage also has a great grasp of English after coming through as assistant to Carlos Carvalhal at Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea City.

Current Favourite: Bruno Lage

Is Eddie Howe the right candidate for Crystal Palace?

Roy Hodgson decided to end his fascinating career at the age of 73 after bringing five years of stability to Crystal Palace. Before him, coaching changes were made on at least an annual basis since Neil Warnock's three year stint between 2007 and 2010. No manager has kept them in the Premier League for such a consistent period of time. The football may not have been spellbinding but with limited resources, the former Inter Milan, Liverpool and England boss ferried them to safety in each of his seasons and brought some much needed consistency to the club. They are now a consolidated Premier League outfit hoping to push on to bigger things. The problem is that Roy, through no fault of his own, leaves The Eagles with 15 players out of contract at the end of June and in a very precarious position. The incoming manager won't really know what they'll have to work with but for the right candidate it could represent a blank canvas on which to paint a whole new picture.

Nuno Espirito Santo's name has also been linked with the vacancy at Selhurst Park, although he seems to be high on the list of priorities at Everton and given the choice between the two, it's hard to imagine him picking Palace. Steve Cooper of Swansea City is very highly rated and narrowly missed promotion to the Premier League, losing the playoff final to Brentford. He is said to be in the frame, as is Sean Dyche of Burnley. Dyche has reportedly spoken to Palace in the past so there could be interest there. Of the current candidates, the frontrunner right now is former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, who like most managers on the merry-go-round is linked with just about everyone. He turned down Celtic reportedly due to backroom staff issues. If Director of Football Dougie Freedman can guarantee him the support he needs, he could be the man to come in and build something new from scratch with the young players coming through at the club.

Current Favourite: Eddie Howe

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