So, with Dave Whelan off in Barbados for the next two weeks, should we assume that any shopping for a new manager is going to be done on-line? It might sound daft but thought is probably preferable to some of the other options available, especially when you consider who he’s left back at the ranch. Then again, despite the chairman and his chief executive insisting that they are just starting on their search, the bookies have the next appointment as a done deal.
Before tea time was out on Latics’ first day as a manger-less side at least two books had been closed with the vast majority of money being laid falling on the head of Graham Souness. Sky Bet are telling the world that Souness ticks all the boxes for Latics, being experienced and available immediately.
A couple of weeks ago, much was made of Souness’ relationship with Whelan and his withdrawal from the race for the Horwich Manager’s job, but the word from Bolton is that Souness was unhappy with the panel that interviewed him at the Reebok and he’s since, reportedly, been interviewed for the Leicester post. Whether that’s enough to rule him out, I don’t know, but I know that you’re daft to go against the bookies when their feeling is this strong.
That said there are other candidates; some more likely than others and it’s worth having a quick flick through who they might be.
The Chairman’s Choice
Mr. Whelan has been a tad more than encouraging about Stuart Pearce’s talents over the last year or so. If he was that keen on the England U21 coach then he must have been the only grown man in the country who didn’t know that Pearce would be available the day after he promoted Chris Hutchings to the big seat at Christopher Park.
Pearce would probably not be a popular choice with the fans, his record in management isn’t great and his reputation has him more the motivator than master technician. We’ve learnt over the last couple of years that a little more than motivation is required if Latics are going to mark more of a mark at this level.
The Fan’s Favourite
Other than his immediate availability there’s nothing to link Martin Jol with Latics, but he is still featuring highly on most fan’s shopping lists. Whilst initially the choice seems fanciful, the big Dutchman may well want the chance to prove the Spurs board wrong, right under their noses. Jol’s pedigree for the job at hand is a little doubtful. Spurs are above Latics on goal difference only, and whilst they’ve been struggling with key injuries he showed little sign of turning things around. His style, perhaps, is too open for the rigours of a relegation battle.
The Romantic’s Rumours
First up is a return for our latest prodigal son. Whether or not Paul Jewell fancies another go at working in the current set-up he’s likely to face a mixed reaction from the fans. His resignation in the summer seemed as much an acknowledgement that he’d reached an impasse with the club and little has changed in the interim to suggest that he can take Latics any further than he has already. Plus, with Benitez facing a must-win game of his own tomorrow, Jewell may be hoping for a chance at a real big club [coughs].
If the return of the conquering hero doesn’t tickle your fancy then how’s about welcoming back another of the club’s favourite sons. Roberto Martinez has been pulling up trees at Swansea but whilst he might be tempted by a poke at managing in the top flight, he’s a bright enough bloke to know that this chance would come too soon for him. Regardless of that, it’s hard to see him being attracted to working with the bloke that effectively forced him out of the club in the first place.
The Intelligent Inkling
If you, like many, suspect that the chairman will want to do this on the cheap, then your eyes will no doubt be creeping down to the lower reaches of the leagues. Whether the manager of the side topping the Championship would want to join a relegation haunted Premier League side, is one thing, but Ade Boothroyd ticks more boxes than you might think at first.
A young manager, with plenty of energy and good ideas about how the game should be played, Boothroyd has already had experience of a relegation battle, both at Watford and Leeds. Ok so he wasn’t successful in either case, but third time lucky and all that? To be honest there are probably too many similarities with Jewell for Boothroyd to be a serious contender, but there are certainly worse options out there.
The list is long and there’s plenty in it to worry about. No one really treats Mourinho as a real contender but when names like Peter Reid are being banded about then it’s time to start panicking. One person who isn’t being mentioned is the caretaker, Frank Barlow but if he gets off to a good start, you never know.
As it stands, I’d like to see Jol on board, he seems to have a strong personality that would come in useful when dealing with the prim-donnas that did a good job of seeing the back of Chris Hutchings. It would also be nigh on essential when dealing with the chairman and his mates behind the scenes. I do think that Souness is most likely though and whilst I think he could do a job I’m worried about the rumoured connections with Whelan, we’ve seen what old pals acts can do in the past.
Whatever options are available, it’s pleasing that the candidate many expected to be leading the way hasn’t even been stepped up to cover the job. John Benson would be as welcome as… well let’s just say he wouldn’t be welcome and it’s a good sign if the chairman has finally realised that, although you have to have the sneaky feeling that he may have already turned it down.
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