Five names in the frame to replace Claude Puel at Southamptonby Jack Kitson / 15 June 2017, 11:06Tweet
The inevitable has happened as Southampton sacked Claude Puel on Wednesday night after one season at the helm.
Rumours were rife that the Frenchman had been axed a week ago, news which has at long last been confirmed by the Saints.
On one hand Puel can feel hard done by, having led the Saints to the EFL Cup final and an 8th placed finish, something he achieved despite injuries to key players throughout the season.
However, in the end he has come unstuck because of his conservative style of play, and lack of spice in attack, which frustrated many supporters.
Below we take a look at five early names in the frame to replace Puel in the St Mary’s dugout.
Thomas Tuchel has been hotly linked with Southampton ever since he left his post at Borussia Dortmund two weeks ago, and he can currently be backed at evens to make a swift return to management with the Saints.
Last season Tuchel led Dortmund to German Cup glory, the Champions League quarter-finals, and 3rd in the league, but a toxic relationship with the club’s hierarchy saw the two parties part ways three days after he hoisted the club.
Luring Tuchel over to the south coast would be a huge statement of intent from the Saints, and not only would it significantly enhance their chances of clutching hold of their star names, but they may also be able to bring in one or two stellar signings themselves.
Frank de Boer
Former Ajax boss Frank de Boer was linked with the Saints last summer after Ronald Koeman darted off to Everton. However, the Hampshire club ended up appointing Puel, while De Boer took charge of Inter Milan - where he lasted just 85 days in the dugout.
Fast-forward a year and the out-of-work De Boer again finds himself in the mix for the Saints post.
The Dutchman may have endured a disappointingly brief spell at Inter, but in his previous position at Ajax he led the club to a whopping four consecutive Eredivisie titles.
De Boer, who has also been linked with Crystal Palace, can currently be backed at a best-priced 7/1 to replace Puel.
Julian Nagelsmann is an interesting name to ponder with the young German now priced at just 6/1 (Paddy Power) to switch the Bundesliga for the Premier League.
Nagelsmann shot into the headlines in February 2016 after bagging the 1899 Hoffenheim job at the age of just 28, as he became the youngest gaffer in Bundesliga history.
The talented young boss remarkably went on to save the club from the dreaded drop, before leading his troops to a stunning 4th place finish last term, meaning the club will feature in the Champions League play-off round next season (for the first time in their history).
But, his abrupt appearance in the next Southampton manager market is a surprise given that he only signed a new deal with Hoffenheim a week ago (through to 2021) making a sudden switch to the Saints very unlikely, although not out of the question.
In the last few weeks Mauricio Pellegrino has featured in a number of next manager markets, most prominently Crystal Palace, for which he’s the 13/8 favourite in the betting.
On Wednesday Sky Sports News reported that former Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini was locked in talks with Palace, but it appeared to be a case of mistaken identity, with the similarly named Mauricio Pellegrino actually the manager in negotiations with the club.
But, Pellegrino could now well have his head turned by the new vacancy at Southampton, for which he’s a 10/1 shot in the betting.
The Argentine has previously managed the likes of Valencia, Estudiantes, Independiente and most recently Alaves, with whom he left last month after leading the club to the Copa del Rey final and a 9th place finish in La Liga.
Could Southampton stay French and appoint Laurent Blanc? The former France and PSG boss is currently hovering around the 18/1 mark for the job and could well be worth a punt, with his odds expected to shorten.
Blanc harshly lost his job at French giants PSG last summer despite winning a whole host of trophies, including three consecutive Ligue 1 titles.
The 51-year-old has since been out in the wilderness, but the chance to manage in the Premier League with a club brimming with potential could well stoke his interest.