July 16, 2024


Exercise makes us healthy

Spurs, Everton, Crystal Palace, West Brom, Wolves: What is latest with vacancies?

Mauricio Pochettino, Nuno Espirito Santo, Rafael Benitez
Mauricio Pochettino, Nuno Espirito Santo and Rafael Benitez are all being linked with Premier League jobs

With the domestic season at an end, it is supposed to be the time when football turns it attention to the international scene. This summer, that means the delayed Euro 2020.

However, the Premier League juggernaut never truly stops and this close season appears even more manic than usual.

Of last season’s 20 top-flight clubs, five are currently without a manager.

Some potential candidates are being linked with more than one job – and others would create a vacancy somewhere else if they were appointed.

It adds up to quite a confused overall picture and there is little chance of the executives of the clubs concerned getting to watch much of the Euros, as enticing a prospect that might be.

Tottenham – Can Pochettino be brought back?

Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino has won his first major trophy since leaving Spurs – the French Cup, but PSG lost the league title to Lille

Tottenham have the twin concern of trying to fill the managerial vacancy created by Jose Mourinho’s dismissal in April and massive uncertainty over the future of their star man.

It is thought to be just a matter of time before a significant offer for Harry Kane arrives from Manchester City.

There are differing accounts of what Kane has said to Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy about his future but having no manager is hardly an enticing incentive to stay, compared to the club who just won the Premier League and featured in the Champions League final.

Tottenham think they can get Mauricio Pochettino back to the club from Paris St-Germain. PSG are adamant the Argentine is going nowhere. Even if this is posturing, it does not indicate a swift conclusion to the matter.

Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is also on Spurs’ radar and is free to join whoever he wants after leaving Inter Milan within days of guiding the club to their first Serie A title since 2010.

Brighton boss Graham Potter has also been mentioned but with a contract that runs to 2025, compensation is bound to be involved if Spurs chairman Daniel Levy heads in that direction.

Erik ten Hag only signed a new contract with Ajax at the end of April, while Roberto Martinez’s deal with Belgium runs until after next year’s World Cup – and Tottenham could not get him until after the Euros at the earliest.

Everton – Benitez to return to Merseyside?

Rafael Benitez
Rafael Benitez spent 18 months managing in China after leaving Newcastle

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri has been stunned at the speed of Carlo Ancelotti’s return to Real Madrid.

Ancelotti’s exit raises questions over some of the star names that followed the Italian to Goodison Park, in particular Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez, who still has a year left on his contract, and Brazilian midfielder Allan, whose contract runs to 2023.

Of all the names linked with Everton, former Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez is the most intriguing. Benitez’s reputation is solid but is it possible for him to manage the Blues, having won the Champions League for the Reds?

Like Benitez, Nuno Espirito Santo is available following his exit from Wolves last month and is known to be keen on an immediate return to the Premier League. Former manager David Moyes is in a weird situation, having agreed a three-year contract at West Ham that remains unsigned.

Eddie Howe is also available after the former Bournemouth manager’s talks with Celtic collapsed.

Crystal Palace – Nuno in the frame

Nuno Espirito Santo
All of Nuno Espirito Santo’s English experience has been at Wolves

Nuno is understood to have been talking to Crystal Palace before the Everton vacancy arose.

Taken at face value, if it was a choice between the two, Everton would be the obvious pick. However, in football, issues like money and freedom to appoint your own backroom team can be powerful arguments. Howe’s U-turn at Celtic was caused by backroom issues apparently and Nuno’s entourage is quite large.

Nuno and Howe are sure to figure among the Palace candidates. Burnley boss Sean Dyche spoke to Palace previously and the compensation figure payable to get him out of Turf Moor has been reduced.

Highly-rated Steve Cooper only has a year left on his contract at Swansea and missed out on promotion to the Premier League in the Championship play-off final.

And then there is Chris Wilder, out of work since leaving Sheffield United in March but with enough credit in the bank to get another job without too much difficulty despite last season’s problems at Bramall Lane.

The issue at Palace is the huge numbers of players who are out of contract.

Director of football Dougie Freedman is currently taking care of that situation but any new boss would surely want the final say.

And what of star man Wilfried Zaha, whose future is the subject of intense debate every transfer window but is still at Selhurst Park.

West Brom – is Wilder done deal?

Chris Wilder
If Chris Wilder gets the West Brom job, he would be battling his old team Sheffield United for promotion

Wilder has been the overwhelming favourite to take over at West Brom since Sam Allardyce’s exit was confirmed last month.

Yet Chris Hughton was in the same position a couple of years ago – and Slaven Bilic got the job.

Former Baggies player and coach Michael Appleton impressed at Lincoln this season and missed out on promotion with the Imps when they were beaten by Blackpool in the League One play-off final on 30 May.

Like Appleton, Derek McInnes has West Brom connections from his playing days and rebuffed approaches from Sunderland and Rangers during a largely impressive eight-year spell at Aberdeen, which came to an end in March.

Former Huddersfield boss David Wagner is looking for another managerial opportunity after his dismissal at Schalke, while, unlike Swansea, West Brom will have the added help of Premier League parachute payments if they wanted Cooper to try to steer them to promotion.

However, given the Baggies have already lost four of their key men from this season after their loans expired, and the futures of England goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and playmaker Matheus Pereira are uncertain following relegation to the Championship, a major rebuilding exercise is required at the Hawthorns.

Wolves – Lage set for Molineux job

Bruno Lage
Bruno Lage’s managerial record initially failed to pass post-Brexit regulations – but the FA has given permission for Wolves to hire him

Of the five clubs without a manager, Wolves is the most clear-cut.

While many were surprised at the decision to part company with Nuno, the club quickly had a replacement in mind, and now that former Benfica boss Bruno Lage has been cleared to move to the Premier League, it is just a matter of time before the appointment is confirmed at Molineux.