It’s that time of year when struggling teams contemplate triggering the manager ejector seat. Others meanwhile will be thinking already about next season and making a long term change. Here are the best ten managers currently out of work and who might sign them up.
10. Sean Dyche
In a previous era Dyche’s achievement of keeping Burnley in the Premier League on a shoestring would have earned him a chance with a bigger club. However his old school 4-4-2 tactics and abrasive persona have proved a turn-off to Premier League clubs since he was dismissed from Burnley last April. Offers will surely come for Dyche but when they do he’s likely to face the dilemma of taking a short term contract with a Premier League struggler tasked with keeping them in the division or returning on a longer deal at EFL level. Dyche would clearly prefer a Premier League return but knows taking a club to the end of this season risk him becoming known as a fire-fighter in the image of Sam Allardyce.
9. Lucien Favre
Is it the end of the line for 65-year-old Favre following his recent dismissal from ambitious Ligue1 outfit Nice? Favre fared far better in his first stint with Nice when he took the club back to the Champions League and won himself a move to Borussia Dortmund. Since then Favre has developed a reputation for fast attacking football but defensive weakness and crucially falling just short of silverware. Favre would be best suited an ambitious project club in France or Germany prepared to give him time in the hope he can move a team a few rungs up the ladder, however his poor second spell at Nice will limit his options.
Marcelino has taken in ten stops on his managerial journey but has yet to manager outside his Spanish homeland. His best spell came with Valencia who he took back into the Champions League in consecutive seasons and won the Copa del Rey. However Marcelino couldn’t work a similar trick for Athletic Bilbao and has been available since the end of last season. Marcelino would be a good fit at a host of middleweight La Liga clubs but could he cast the net wider for his next stop?
7. Rafael Benitez
It was never going to work for ex-Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez at Everton, his disastrous spell at Goodison Park reaffirming the perception his best days in management are behind him. Benitez has an impressive trophy haul but his last major trophy was the Coppa Italia nine years ago with Napoli. His defensive style isn’t currently in favour and aged 62 Benitez knows his next job is likely to be his last. He could certainly help a team currently at wrong end of the Premier League and exercise a certain amount of vengeance on Everton. However Rafa will want a club with the resources to move up the table quickly and his love of footballing politics come with a health warning.
6. Fernando Santos
With the World Cup over there are plenty of national team managers out of work, but few come as decorated as longtime Portugal boss Fernando Santos. Winning Euro 2016 gave Santos the major honour he craved and shattered the glass ceiling of expectations in Portugal. At 68 it’s unclear if Santos wants to return to management and he hasn’t been in club football since a successful spell at PAOK back in 2010. If he does want to return Santos would be an excellent short term appointment for a national team looking for a return to winning ways.
5. Luis Enrique
The World Cup proved one near miss too many for Spain’s Luis Enrique. After the semi-final at Euro 2020 and ensuing Nations League runners up medal, Spain failed to live up to their early promise in Qatar and went out in the last 16. Enrique’s stock is still high after replicating a style close to the glorious Spanish sides of Vincente del Bosque and his own treble winning Barcelona team of 2015. Enrique who suffered a horrific personal tragedy in 2019 can take his time in picking a new assignment, it would be a major surprise if he didn’t receive a Champions League level offer this summer.
4. Marcelo Bielsa
‘El Loco’ furthered his managerial legacy with a fine spell at Leeds United, but a disappointing final season in Yorkshire cemented his reputation for being a man who can only weave his magic in the short term. Since his departure from Leeds, Bielsa went close to returning to his old stomping ground of Athletic Bilbao and turned down Bournemouth. Signing Bielsa means taking him lock, stock and barrel and giving him control of the entire footballing operation of a club, something that will have plenty wary of chasing him. He clearly remains interested in returning to the dug-out despite advancing years but generally sticks to one club per country, making Portugal perhaps his likeliest next destination.
3. Mauricio Pochettino
Managing PSG gave Pochettino the silverware his CV desperately needed with a hat-trick of domestic trophies in France. However like so many before him Pochettino found the superstar PSG dressing room too hot to handle and has been out of work since the end of last season. As was the case when he left Tottenham, Pochettino is taking his time over a new appointment. He’s likely waiting for a Champions League level club in either Spain or England. However having been passed over three times by Manchester United, Pochettino may consider other options. Few expect the combustable Antonio Conte to stay long term at Spurs, with some tipping reunion for the Argentine. He is however a manager well suited to a project club so may listen to offers from ambitious clubs with money looking to press forward.
2. Thomas Tuchel
A Champions League winner with Chelsea, Tuchel has proved successful everywhere he’s coached. Tuchel was unfortunate not to add to at least one of the last season’s domestic cups to his glut of medals, but he quickly ran foul of new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly and was dismissed last September. Just as it did at Dortmund and PSG, Tuchel’s undoing at Chelsea proved a failure to manage up to the boardroom rather than down to his players. That might put off some big clubs however with both Bayern Munich and Juventus currently under-performing a return to management at a premier club is on the cards for Tuchel.
1. Zinedine Zidane
For a very exclusive list of football teams there’s a three time Champions League winning manager currently sat at home! The question with Zidane remains how interested is he in returning to management? Zidane was widely known to covert the France national team job, but the FFF’s decision to re-commit to Didier Deschamps and tactless sideswipe from their president Noel Le Graet slammed that door shut. Winning a second La Liga without Cristiano Ronaldo increased Zidane’s stock in the eyes of many and there won’t be a shortage of admirers, but as ever ‘Zizou’ is not a man to second guess. He is however the most coveted out of work manager in football.