Napoli had barely finished celebrating their passage into their last 16 of the Champions League, secured with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Genk, when confirmation of Carlo Ancelotti’s sacking arrived.
This was somewhat expected, with the relationship between manager and board frayed by recent events at the San Paulo, but nonetheless the timing was shocking.
It’s unlikely Ancelotti will be out of work for long. He remains one of the most illustrious coaches in the European game and has been linked with vacancies at both Arsenal and Everton, with West Ham likely to be in the market for a new manager soon too.
So which Premier League club would suit the Italian best?
After the ill-fated reign of Unai Emery, Arsenal fans are desperate for a big name manager. As a three-time Champions League winner and past Premier League champion, Ancelotti would certainly fit the bill in that regard. If the Gunners are intent on making a permanent appointment before the end of the season, the 60-year-old appears to be the most qualified candidate.
Ancelotti would be a more pragmatic manager than the Arsenal support are used to, but that might be what they need to get back on the right path.
The defensive rot that festered towards the end of the Arsene Wenger era still hasn’t been eradicated. Ancelotti would surely make progress here.
The worry for Arsenal, though, is that if Emery was their Moyes, Ancelotti might be their Louis Van Gaal - a former managerial great of the game who is coming down the other side of the mountain rather than still sitting at the top having been sacked at both Bayern Munich and Napoli.
Marco Silva was sacked a week ago and still there’s no real indication of who Everton might target as his replacement. Vitor Pereira and David Moyes were both mentioned, but neither seemed a terribly good fit. Ancelotti, on the other hand, might be the perfect manager for the Goodison Park position.
Ancelotti would bring the sort of credence Everton crave, but would also be a good stylistic fit for the Toffees.
The Italian would go back to basics on Merseyside. It’s the basics that have let Everton down in recent years and so Ancelotti could give them a foundation to build upon even after he has left. What’s more, there is plenty of talent in the Everton squad for him to work with.
West Ham have long held ambitions of one day becoming an elite Premier League outfit. The appointment of Ancelotti would take them closer to the realisation of that, especially with Arsenal and Everton both reported to be interested in the former AC Milan, PSG and Real Madrid manager. The Hammers could steal a march on their rivals.
It’s easy to see why West Ham, currently just one point off the bottom three in the Premier League table, would want someone like Ancelotti, but this job would come fraught with risk for the Italian.
He would inherit a top-heavy squad that isn’t suited to his qualities as a coach. Ancelotti would have more to lose than gain at West Ham.