The pressures of top-level football mean managers are almost always on a constant carousel, with just one underwhelming run of games enough to prompt change in the dugout.
Waiting in the wings for another chance at a top club are a number of quality coaches, each of who would represent fine candidates should sides seek change in the coming months.
Here are five top-class managers currently out of work.
One of the greatest footballers of all time has proven himself as somewhat of a serial winner in management, despite his relative inexperience in the dugout.
Across two spells at Real Madrid he won two La Liga titles and three consecutive Champions League trophies, becoming just the third man – after Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti – to win Europe’s top prize on three occasions.
He departed following the third of those triumphs, before returning nine months later and leaving for second time after a trophyless 2020/21 campaign.
With a host of Super Cups and Club World Cups in addition to those big prizes, Zidane embarked on a decorated start to his managerial career, winning 11 trophies in just five years. He remains unproven outside of the Spanish superpower, but is a name that is regularly linked whenever major roles open up.
The Frenchman has the name to command respect in any dressing room and is intelligent enough to choose the right role moving forward, having turned down past interest from the Premier League due to the language barrier.
“Would I want to go to Manchester [United]? I understand English, but I’m not completely fluent in it,” Zidane told L’Equipe.
“I know that there are coaches who go to clubs without speaking the language, but I work in a different way. Many elements come into play in order to win, it is a global context. I know what I need to win.”
Former side Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain have been regularly linked with the 50-year-old, while he has been named as potential replacement for Didier Deschamps, should the France manager step down after the 2022 World Cup.
Thomas Tuchel has been without a club since he was sacked at Chelsea in September, a decision which was not popular at Stamford Bridge.
The German clashed with the club’s new ownership following a summer takeover and was dismissed earlier this season following a Champions League defeat to Dinamo Zagreb.
Tuchel had been a much-admired figure during his tenure at Chelsea, a period which saw him win three trophies – including the 2021 Champions League – and reach a further three finals.
Named as winner of UEFA Men’s Coach of the Year and The Best FIFA Football Coach in 2021, he had earlier won two league titles at Paris Saint-Germain and the DFB-Pokal with Borussia Dortmund. Experienced in multiple major leagues and in dressing rooms containing star names, Tuchel will be an attractive option to any leading European club in search of a new direction.
He has recently been linked with the England job after Gareth Southgate admitted he is considering his future with the Three Lions. While his nationality might prove an issue, he has all the attributes to be a success in the role and could reunite with Chelsea stars Mason Mount, Reece James, Ben Chilwell and Raheem Sterling at international level.
Mauricio Pochettino is another who has been linked with the England job and is a familiar name to Premier League fans after spells at Southampton and Tottenham.
After a brief but impressive stint on the South Coast, he took charge of Spurs in 2014 and spent five-and-a-half years in charge of the north Londoners. Pochettino’s reign ended without silverware, but coincided with Spurs’ best period of the Premier League era.
He led Spurs to runners-up finishes in the Premier League and Champions League, and guided the club to qualification for the latter tournament in four straight seasons. Pochettino’s intense brand of football also won admirers, as did his faith in emerging talent with the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Kieran Trippier, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana developing into England internationals under his management.
Question marks remain over his ability to win the biggest prizes, despite Ligue 1 success at Paris Saint-Germain – an achievement very much par for the course given the French club’s domestic dominance.
West Ham have been recently linked as the pressure grows on David Moyes, with Pochettino still spending much of his time in London. The Argentine has, however, refused to rule out an international role
Speaking to Sky Sports last month, he said: “It wasn’t under my consideration to go [into international management] but now, yes I am open. Why not?
“Yes, of course we are still young, full of energy, and day-by-day I like the adrenaline to train, to be involved. Maybe the national team is a different job, but why not? If it’s not the next job, then maybe in the future. It’s not specific that all I want is Argentina. If another country, why not? For sure, that would be good also.”
Luis Enrique has re-entered the consciousness of top clubs after stepping down from his role as Spain manager following their World Cup exit.
La Roja endured a disappointing campaign in Qatar and were eliminated in a last-16 shock against Morocco, with Enrique conceding that he is now keen for a new challenge in which he will be granted with greater time to implement his plans.
“I see myself joining a club and developing a squad with greater finesse and precision than I had time to do with the National Team”, the 52-year-old said on a Twitch stream.
‘Lucho’ was already approached by clubs last year but he was 100% focused on Spain. Now it’s time to be back. pic.twitter.com/doavDkOzZX
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) December 12, 2022
“This campaign is coming to an end and I will surely wait for next season. In the meantime, I have enlisted for a mountain bike race with my brother!”
Enrique had a hugely successful three-year spell in charge of Barcelona before moving into international management, having won the Champions League and two La Liga titles before leaving the Nou Camp in 2017. He led the Catalans to a continental treble during the 2014/15 season and will want a project where he can challenge for the biggest prizes once again.
Marcelo Bielsa’s background makes him a fascinating candidate for clubs in search of a new direction, with his career having taken in spells in Argentina, Mexico, France, Spain, Italy and England, in addition to stints in charge of two national teams.
Bielsa’s philosophies have influenced coaches including Pep Guardiola with Bielsa-ball promising entertainment as a bare minimum.
The Argentine is adored at Leeds, where he was sacked in February following a downturn in results. The club’s fans have failed to warm to replacement Jesse Marsch and called for his return in recent fixtures before the World Cup break.
He was a shock appointment at Leeds in 2018 and oversaw the club’s return to the Premier League after a 16-year absence, having inherited a team that finished mid-table in the Championship in six of the previous seven seasons. Bielsa led Leeds to ninth in their first full season back in the top division and his methods – focused on relentless running – brought the best from players previously deemed below Premier League standards.
It would be fascinating to see how Bielsa could perform with greater resources in English football.
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