Managerial Mayhem: The Best Replacements?

It’s all change in the Premier League, as three of the top clubs over recent years are all without a permanent manager. Leicester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur are all on the lookout for their next Head Coach, so we’ve made the search a little easier for them by rounding up the best options in this handy little article.

Leicester City announced that the club had reached a ‘mutual agreement’ with first team manager Brendan Rodgers on Sunday morning, with the Northern Irishman leaving the club after four years in charge. During that time, the Foxes listed the FA Cup for the first time in their history as Youri Tielemans’ thunderstrike secured victory over Chelsea. The Club also lifted the Community Shield against Manchester City, as Kelechi Iheanacho fired home from twelve yards out.

Since then though, form has significantly worsened under Brendan Rodgers – and the manager was lucky to keep his job after a disappointing 2021/22 campaign. However, it appears things have finally reached breaking point at the King Power – as the Board have announced the termination of his contract. Club Chairman, Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha – who took leadership of the club after his father’s tragic passing – said in a statement that ‘we’ve experienced some of our finest footballing moments under his guidance and will always be grateful to him’ but also added that ‘performances and results during the current season have been below our shared expectations.’ The chairman went on to say that ‘the Board is compelled to take alternative action to protect our Premier League status.’

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Graham Potter was also relieved of his duties on Sunday evening, leaving Stamford Bridge less than seven months after he took over from Thomas Tuchel. In a press release issued on the club website, Chelsea stated that ‘Graham Potter has departed the club. Graham has agreed to collaborate with the Club to facilitate a smooth transition.’ The statement was rather brief, but it went on to thank the ex-Brighton boss ‘for all his efforts and contribution and wish him well for the future.’

With two high-profile managers losing their jobs, we thought we’d take a look at some potential replacements – and pick out the best fit for each club. We’ve also thrown Spurs into the discussion, because why not! Cristian Stellini has taken charge until the end of the season, and he did well when filling in for Antonio Conte during his recovery from surgery, but the Lilywhites are still on the lookout for a permanent manager.

Starting with Leicester City, the Foxes are in dire need of a proven manager to lift them out of the relegation zone before the end of the season. With just ten games left to play, the club sit in 19th. Marcelo Bielsa is a name that’s been floated around by Leicester fans desperate to see the ex-Leeds boss in the dugout at the King Power – but personally, I think his style of play is just too different to that of Brendan Rodgers, and I’m not sure how the squad would adapt. If the club are to pursue Bielsa, they’d be better off doing it in the summer.

Thomas Frank is also regarded as one of the favourites to take the job at the King Power, though I cannot see any reason why the Brentford boss would leave his high-flying side to join the Foxes. The Bees are exceeding all expectations and are truly in a fight for European football, so I think the Dane would be mad if he swapped West London for the banks of the River Soar any time soon.

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Rafa Benitez and Mauricio Pochettino are also widely linked with the job at the King Power. While I believe Benitez would be more than willing to sign a contract at the club, I’m not sure he’s what the Foxes are looking for – and his stint at Everton was less than impressive. When he was relieved of his duties at Goodison Park, he claimed he was not aware of the ‘magnitude of the task’, so I can’t see the Foxes faithful being full of confidence if he is to take over at the Leicestershire club.

As for Mauricio Pochettino, the ex-Spurs boss has since managed Paris Saint-Germain – and in my eyes, it’s clear to see that Saffron Lane is just a slight downgrade from the Champs-Élysées. While I think he’d be a brilliant appointment, it just wouldn’t make any sense if the Argentine was to arrive at the Club.

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One name that makes perfect sense – and who is freshly available – is Graham Potter. Sources speculate that he is already in discussions with the Leicester City Board after his sacking on Saturday evening, and taking the job at the King Power makes sense from every angle. Potter was in charge at Stamford Bridge for less than seven months, after making the switch from his brilliant Brighton side to join the Blues. He was awarded the job because he was perceived to have over-performed with the Seagulls – but Roberto De Zerbi has come in and has them fighting the big boys for Europe now. Maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t Graham Potter that was behind their stellar performances, but the team as a whole?

While Leicester is certainly a step down from Chelsea, Graham Potter needs to prove himself quickly to avoid his stint at Stamford Bridge from defining his career. Taking on the King Power job is a risk, but it’s his best option right now. It could be the end of his career in the top flight if the Foxes do get relegated, but if he can reproduce their Great Escape from the 2014/15 season, it could be the catalyst for bigger and better things for the boss.

Talking of Graham Potter, let’s take a look at his potential replacement at Stamford Bridge. Julian Nagelsmann, who was recently replaced by ex-Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel at Bayern Munich, is the favourite – and what a story that would be. Nagelsmann is an excellent manager who guided his side to second in the Bundesliga, and his sacking came as a surprise to football fans across Europe. However, Chelsea may be wary due to some of the rumours surrounding his sacking – as it’s believed his journalist girlfriend caused chaos in the dressing room.

Staying in the Bundesliga, Oliver Glasner is also rumoured as a candidate – having impressed with Eintracht Frankfurt. Under his leadership, they beat Rangers to the Europa League trophy and performed well in the Champions League this season before they were eliminated by an unbelievable Napoli side. It’s a rogue appointment, but one that would potentially serve Chelsea well.

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Zinedine Zidane has also been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge – though his former France teammate Emmanuel Petit warned that Zizou wouldn’t be a good appointment for the Blues as the Premier League doesn’t suit his style of play. Like Leicester, Chelsea have also been linked with a move for Mauricio Pochettino – which while it makes more sense for him to head to West London than it does the East Midlands, I can’t see him in the dugouts at the Bridge.

Brendan Rodgers is also in contention – and despite his dire performances at Leicester, I don’t think that’s a bad shout. The ex-Liverpool boss has always performed well when taking over a new team, and it’s later during his tenure that he begins to struggle as he starts to rebuild. With the recent talents that Chelsea have acquired, Brendan Rodgers would be in dreamland with plenty of high-quality options to choose from.

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Personally, I think Chelsea will be best off by appointing either Brendan Rodgers or Julian Nagelsmann. The links to Zinedine Zidane seem weak at best, and Oliver Glasner’s style of play perhaps wouldn’t take full advantage of Chelsea’s abundance of attacking talent. I spoke to Luke Charlton, one of our resident Chelsea fans, about the matter. He said that while Nagelsmann seems to be ‘the most obvious successor’ to Graham Potter, he’s concerned about ‘his inexperience of consistent success at the top level.’ If he was given the choice, he’d appoint Luis Enrique due to his ‘intense attacking football’, stating that this is something ‘Chelsea fans would be incredibly receptive to after weeks of Potter’s pot-luck tactical approach.’

Moving on to Tottenham Hotspur next – and this is arguably the trickiest of the bunch. If Cristian Stellini can continue to deliver results like he did during Conte’s absence, it’s hard to argue with the Italian being handed the job on a permanent basis come the summer.

If the North London outfit were to look elsewhere, they’d have plenty of options to consider. Julian Nagelsmann is favourite for the Spurs job too, and was heavily linked with a move to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium immediately after news broke about his sacking in Germany. It’d be a good move for the club, but as we all know, Daniel Levy demands instant success – and if Nagelsmann fails to deliver that, it could ruin his career.

Mauricio Pochettino is also linked with a dramatic return to North London, though I can’t personally see that ever happening. It might be exactly what the club needs, but time’s moved on, and the Argentine is surely dreaming of bigger and better things than a return to the club that sacked him less than four years ago.

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Spurs are also linked with Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi, Brentford’s Thomas Frank, Frankfurt’s Oliver Glasner and Burnley’s Vincent Kompany. In short, Roberto De Zerbi and Thomas Frank would be insane if either of them decided to leave their current roles to take on the challenge at Spurs. While the North London outfit might be a bigger club historically – and even that’s questionable given their notable lack of silverware – they are on track to produce sensational results with their current clubs, who are performing well above Tottenham’s level at this time (given the squads they have in comparison).

I can see why Vincent Kompany is being linked with a move to North London. The Burnley boss is absolutely dominating the Championship, and so the next step is to prove his worth in the top flight – but I think he’d be better off doing that with the Clarets next season. As I’ve already mentioned, taking the Spurs job is such a risk because of the expectation that a manager will miraculously win trophies there – but the problems run much deeper in N17, and I think taking on the job would be self-sabotage by the Belgian.

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Personally, I think Oliver Glasner is the right choice for Spurs. His defensive style of play might drive fans up the wall after enduring months of Conte-ball, but unlike the Italian, his tactics are slightly more up-to-date. Spurs have a pattern of appointing proven winners, and that hasn’t worked out for them as of late. Maybe it’s time to change that, and go for more of a rogue shout like Glasner…

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Have I got it right, or would you rather see someone else in charge of your club? Get the discussion going!

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