Richie Wellens has left his post at Swindon Town in order to return to the League Two dugout with Salford City.
As a result, Swindon have reluctantly opened up the search for a new manager for the first time in two years, back when Phil Brown was sacked in November 2018.
Below, we take a look at four potential Wellens replacements in the next Swindon Town manager market…
We’ll start with the man who, in the absence of Wellens, oversaw Swindon’s mid-week clash against Plymouth: Noel Hunt.
Hunt, who was unable to prevent the Robins from losing an entertaining encounter 4-2, joined Swindon as Wellens’ assistant in November 2018 after he left his post as player-coach of Waterford - who are also owned by Swindon chairman Lee Power.
“I haven’t had much time to process it to be honest, but [taking over] is something I’ve got to have a serious think about,” when questioned by the Swindon Advertiser after the game.
“I’ll have to go and speak to the chairman and Steve Anderson [CEO] to figure out a plan going forward. One thing the club needs is direction, and I feel we are going the right way still.
“I regard myself in charge until told otherwise, but we’ve got a game to look forward to on Saturday.”
Given the current climate, Swindon could look to make the ‘cheaper’ option and appoint from within. Hunt may have no managerial experience to his name, but the Irishman will no doubt aim to employ the same brand of football as Wellens, and is at least expected to get a run of games before either himself or an exterior manager is appointed on a full-time basis.
Paul Tisdale is an early contender
Over at the other end of the managerial scale is the experienced Paul Tisdale.
Tisdale has built up over 10 years of Football League of knowledge and expertise with Exeter City and MK Dons, both of whom he led into League One.
Tisdale has been linked with a plethora of posts since he was sacked by MK Dons a year ago following a poor start to the season.
But the most stylish gaffer in the game has not yet been tempted to return to management, however the Swindon job could be an attractive proposition given that he’s not too far away over in Bath, where he recently opened up a health clinic: The Core.
Swindon Town fans, with Richie Wellens expected to leave, who would you want to replace him?— The Sack Race (@thesackrace) November 4, 2020
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The last time Paul Heckingbottom managed in League One, he led Barnsley up into the Championship, and also lifted the EFL Trophy - not bad considering he was still caretaker at the time.
Heckingbottom bagged the permanent post, kept the club in the second-tier, then controversially left for Yorkshire rivals Leeds mid-way through the 2017/18 season.
It didn’t work out, with Heckingbottom replaced by a certain Marcelo Bielsa.
Heckingbottom ventured North of the border up to Hibernian (February 2019) where he enjoyed a bright start; and led the club to 5th in the table. However, a disappointing start to last season resulted in the sack; exactly a year ago (4th November 2019).
The 43-year-old has since returned to coaching at the helm of Sheffield United’s Under-23 side, who are enjoying a five-game unbeaten run with Monday’s victory over Ipswich their third on the spin - they are currently 3rd in the Professional Development League.
However, a return to senior management will surely be on his mind, and the new Swindon vacancy is no doubt tempting.
How about a former Swindon Town player?
Ian Culverhouse sported the Robins shirt back in the 1990s, where he made 115 appearances and scored two goals.
Culverhouse is currently in his second spell in charge of King's Lynn Town, separated by a stint in charge of Grantham Town. He led King's Lynn into the National League North in 2019, then propelled the club to a shock title last season after the points-per-game formula came into play - his troops are now 16th in the National League after seven games.
Culverhouse was previously the assistant manager to Paul Lambert at both Aston Villa and Norwich City, and been No.2 at Dagenham & Redbridge, while he’s coached at Brighton, Barnet, Leyton Orient and Wycombe.
The 56-year-old would obviously be stepping up two divisions to manage Swindon but his recent success in management combined with his extensive coaching background makes him an outside option for the post.
The odds are likely to change somewhat in the upcoming hours and days, but other potential options for Swindon include Steve Cotterill, Graham Alexander - who Wellens replaced at Salford - plus Simon Grayson, Paul Cook, Paul Hurst and the Cowley brothers.
The likes of Michael Duff and Michael Duff have proved to be promising young managers, however Swindon would have to pay compensation as each boss is currently in a job at Cheltenham and Newport respectively.
Then there’s always Paolo Di Canio...