Southgate to Manchester United as Allardyce and Lampard return: predicting every club’s next boss

Matt Stead
Sam Allardyce, Gareth Southgate and Xabi Alonso
Allardyce, Southgate, Alonso. Sessions

Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United plight got us thinking not just about who might replace him, but which manager is next in line at every Premier League club.


Arsenal – Carlo Ancelotti
Some of these predictions will require more long-term thinking than others. Mikel Arteta is contracted to Arsenal until 2025 and both parties seem understandably happy enough with their lot, making it pointless to look at the current range of options the Gunners might consider in their succession planning. The best managers now – available or otherwise – might not be deemed as such in 18 months’ time, or whenever Arteta’s process ultimately draws to a close.

Through that futuristic lens, it is not difficult to see Arsenal continuing to thrive under Arteta while simultaneously reaching something of a ceiling in terms of success. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City deal runs as long as that of his former protege – read into that what you will – and their stranglehold on the Premier League title might only intensify, while Arsenal will encounter Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16 soon enough.

Arteta will take the Gunners as far as he can but the conversation will eventually turn to Arsenal’s need to make the next step and capitalise on their period in the ascendancy by achieving something tangible. Something, something, born winner, something, something, serial champion. The Tottenham route will be avoided – although Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte rocking up at the Emirates is a tantalising prospect – so Arsenal will go a little more upmarket and tempt Ancelotti back into club management and the Premier League after a brief sojourn with Brazil.

‘Too old’ only ever means ‘suitably experienced’ if you look at it from a different angle.

READ MOREReport reveals Ancelotti ruled out by Arsenal for two reasons


Aston Villa – Julen Lopetegui
Pulled into that managerial merry-go-round vortex will be Aston Villa. Once Unai Emery has further underlined his European pedigree by beating Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final to cement the Italian side’s growing persecution complex against Premier League teams wearing claret and blue, Real Madrid will find themselves powerless to resist the calendar year champion Spaniard. How his turn has not already come up at the Bernabeu is a mystery.

Villa would bid their sultan a rueful goodbye, knowing it is an opportunity Emery could not turn down, that they can do little about it and that any replacement would be considered a downgrade on a manager who fits so perfectly into a structure built specifically around him.

Lopetegui’s appointment might not be best received by many elements of the fanbase after his serviceable but fairly ordinary nine months with Wolves, yet his overall career record would reflect a positive move in difficult circumstances. And Lopetegui really wants another job in England. Plus he isn’t Steven Gerrard.


Bournemouth – Jesse Marsch
The Andoni Iraola experiment remains in flux, with a home victory over Burnley perhaps the least conclusive of test results possible in the current climate. Bournemouth will give the Spaniard time but only on a limited basis without significant improvement.

Banking on some mid-season manager chicanery from an American owner whose name rhymes with Todd Boehly might seem reductive, but also the only sensible reaction in this situation. The only thing more logical and realistic is that Bill Foley will obviously plump for a fellow countryman, which is phenomenal news for Bob Bradley. But he will also want a survival specialist, which is categorically bad news for Bob Bradley, and a boost for continued free agent Marsch.


Brentford – Jacob Neestrup
Sometimes it is necessary to get creative and allow the imagination to flow when predicting the strategy of Premier League clubs plotting for any and all possible managerial variables. And Brentford will obviously just scour the Danish league for their next coach because it worked so well last time.

The Bees plucked Thomas Frank from Brondby in 2016 and promoted him as Dean Smith’s replacement two years later. The 35-year-old Jacob Neestrup, manager of Copenhagen after two stints as assistant, has a league and cup Double, Champions League experience and an arseload of Danish players with whom he can wait at the bus stop in Hounslow.


Brighton – Francesco Farioli
Paul Barber already has a name in mind, saved on a laptop Chelsea would probably happily spend a nine-figure sum to acquire. Brighton’s chief executive will never disclose the details of that file, which is claimed to contain the identities of the club’s desired replacements for at least 25 current employees, ranging from players to staff, coaches and even Barber himself. But it served them well when appointing Roberto De Zerbi, despite his patent lack of expertise in Our League.

The Seagulls might have to check it again soon if De Zerbi continues their upwards trajectory, despite some recent Europa-balancing hiccups. The Italian might even recommend a name of his own in Farioli, who worked with De Zerbi at both Benevento and Sassuolo before carving out his own path at just 31.

Fariolo has done respectable work with Fatih Karagumruk and Alanyaspor in Turkey, before taking on the Nice job this summer. They remain unbeaten in Ligue Un, top by a point from Paris Saint-Germain. Who better than a student of De Zerbi to carry on his legacy?


Burnley – Sam Allardyce
Someone has to. Leeds bit the bullet for four games last season, just enough for Allardyce to have some theoretical impact but equally a window so small he could entirely absolve himself of blame for their eventual relegation.

Burnley’s permanent manager path from just over the last decade reads: Howe, Dyche, Kompany, meaning they are duty-bound to go with an experienced veteran next in a desperate bid to avoid falling into the Championship. Sound the gravy klaxon.


Chelsea – Ruben Amorim
One of the tougher futures to foresee, considering the potent combination of Chelsea’s revolving managerial door and Todd Boehly’s penchant to be Todd Boehly. It is roughly as easy to envision Mauricio Pochettino leading a Stamford Bridge revolution over the next 10 years as it is to envisage him getting sacked within a month.

Then what do Chelsea do? They have followed every conceivable coaching cliche to the extent that former managers are being invited back for a second go now. Every box has been ticked: the rising European star, the elite and uber-experienced continental option, the world champion, club DNA, born winners, prefix-‘ball’ merchants and even the English flavour of the month.

Back to basics it is. Young Portuguese manager making waves with an identifiable playing style and a knowledge of European competition, albeit one Chelsea are unlikely to have to utilise any time soon? Amorim does not have the Champions League winner’s medal Jose Mourinho arrived with at a slightly older age in 2004, but his reputation is nevertheless burgeoning.

Chelsea target Ruben Amorim
Chelsea have been linked with Amorim before


Crystal Palace – Roy Hodgson
It’s time to sack goal-starved, kid-hating, stale Roy Hodgson and replace him with one of the great Premier League managers: mid-season panicky appointment, ultimate entertainer, breath of fresh air Roy Hodgson.


Everton – Michael Carrick
It feels like a mistake that he retired having never made that contractually obliged move of any self-respecting mid-2000s Manchester United player to Everton – the Sunderland switch was immediately rendered moot because of his Newcastle roots – so that wrong can be righted in the dugout.

Everton are a mini-Chelsea in that they have exhausted every traditional manager route a Premier League club can realistically take. Moyes, Martinez, Koeman, Allardyce, Silva, Ancelotti, Benitez, Lampard, Dyche is absolutely sensational work, particularly with some interim Unsworth and Ferguson sprinkled in.

Dyche has at least stabilised them and provided a platform from which Everton have vaguely and uncharacteristically threatened to build. When the time is right, a thriving Football League coach should be given the keys and Carrick is a prime candidate.


Fulham – Will Still
Will Still led Reims to a 19-game unbeaten run in all competitions last season. At 30 years old, he was the youngest manager in Europe’s top five leagues. Reims paid a £22,000 fine each time Still managed because he didn’t have his UEFA Pro Licence.

In this, his first full season as a manager, Still has Reims sixth in the league and is still the youngest head coach in Europe’s top five leagues, while those fines have stopped now he is enrolled on his Pro Licence course. And the West Ham supporter is destined to end up in the Premier League at some point. Fulham feels right.


Liverpool – Xabi Alonso
As the third longest-serving current manager in the entire professional English football league system, there is little way of knowing for certain how Liverpool will handle the post-Jurgen Klopp transition. Judging by how every elite Premier League club has struggled to adapt to the end of coaching dynasties, it might not be pretty.

Gerrard was the dream, whether he or Liverpool will ever care to admit it, but that ship has sailed into the sea of values and beliefs. Pep Lijnders is always discussed as an option for promotion from Assistant to the Regional Manager but that would represent an almighty gamble. And more experienced options of the right calibre and character seem sparse. Danny Murphy’s shout of Unai Emery, for example, just doesn’t really resonate.

Alonso could be the one, with Real Madrid an admittedly considerable obstacle. The Spaniard’s Bayer Leverkusen team is receiving rave reviews as the first in Europe’s top five leagues to score more than 50 goals this season and he will register on some weighty radars despite signing a new contract in August.

It’s him or Gareth Barry, basically. And Liverpool would never be stupid enough to pick the latter in that situation.


Luton – Nathan Jones
Well Rob Edwards isn’t going anywhere – at least not by Luton’s choice – and frankly we bloody well miss Nathan Jones. The Hatters were statistically the best around under his tutelage so…


Manchester City – Roberto De Zerbi
Similar to Liverpool, there can be no way of guaranteeing what Manchester City will do when Guardiola calls it a day. There have been varying points at which their thought process could be pinpointed with more certainty; Arteta, Kompany and Patrick Vieira were seen as potential successors before circumstances changed, while Michel is working wonders at CFG club Girona in La Liga.

But Guardiola himself has publicly extolled the tactical excellence of De Zerbi, while reportedly privately informing a group of Brighton players in the Etihad tunnel after an edgy home win in October: “That’s the next Man City manager.”


Manchester United – Gareth Southgate
De Zerbi is among the reported targets Manchester United will consider if Erik ten Hag truly cannot turn their good ship around, while the club categorically denied interest in Amorim and Zinedine Zidane earlier this week.

That public reaction is necessary and understandable as Ten Hag cannot be undermined by a club admitting they are looking at their options. But if Manchester United are genuinely not at least assessing the field then that is another damning indictment of their operation.

Southgate, then. Let’s have it. There is a school of thought that he is preparing to serve the Saudi overlords after his expected post-Euro 2024 departure as England manager, what with his Jordan Henderson-based weirdness. But eight overachieving years in charge of the national team should translate to at least one more pop at the Premier League. And Manchester United are known admirers.

Southgate was on a five-man shortlist before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s permanent appointment, then was again earmarked as an option when the pressure built on the Norwegian a year later.

At least some of those charged with making the decisions at Old Trafford have appreciated Southgate’s work from afar for some time, and once Harry Maguire heads in the winner against France at the Olympiastadion next summer, it will be impossible to resist.


Newcastle – Jose Mourinho
There will be a fifth go around and it is better to just accept it. Roma are doing fine this season in Serie A’s mid-table but Mourinho is saying some silly things again and that tends to only end one way.

The route back to England is, while entirely inevitable, also a little complicated. Mourinho has burned bridges in the Premier League. Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham can be automatically ruled out on obvious grounds. Arsenal are too cowardly to countenance it. Liverpool, too. And Manchester City are that little bit too sensible.

Newcastle emerging as a legitimate threat to that cabal does open up a possibility both intriguing and not immediately dismissible. Mourinho and the Magpies share something of an intrinsic bond through their respective links to Sir Bobby Robson and their rise means he would not consider it too far a step down, if at all.

Eddie Howe won’t be able to win the big one. Newcastle will bring in Jose and keep Jason Tindall as his assistant. It will be completely unbearable.


Nottingham Forest – Frank Lampard
So that wonderful Frank Lampard Venn diagram needs to be updated. That absolute work of art was a product of its time, published in January 2022 before a great deal changed, not least the manager’s reputation.

The end of his Everton reign and the Chelsea interim stuff really hurt Lampard, whose stock has fallen far enough to render him the favourite for Nigel Pearson’s vacant Bristol City job.

Cue the 45-year-old holding talks with the Championship club but turning them down over a clash in philosophy or some such nonsense. A few TNT Sports gigs later, Lampard will fall on his feet with Nottingham Forest after Evangelos Mavrinakis finally follows through on his eternal threat to sack Steve Cooper.

Their legitimate European prestige will soften the blow of what Lampard will still view as a step down. Dear lord, they’d better grasp The Basics.


Sheffield United – Chris Wilder
They will blink eventually, if only to go down conceding 80-odd goals instead of the 110 they’re currently on course to allow.


Tottenham – Graham Potter
Ange Postecoglou has been historically superb in charge of Tottenham, sure. But he’s not at any stage in his career been sacked by Chelsea first and that feels like a massive misstep on his part.

Plus Potter has been in the Spurs manager sphere at least twice – in The Great Search of 2021 and then again when out of work two years later – so he has surely encountered boardroom Daniel Levy at least once. No amount of times is ever enough, of course, but it does help prepare you.


West Ham – Antonio Conte
It really can only be them if Conte is to return. London-based. European heritage. Just big enough for him to take the job. Just small enough for him to deem himself above it when it turns bad. Which it will, especially with West Ham doing stuff like taking their time over decisions in the transfer market. Goodbye, ketchup.


Wolves – Marcelo Bielsa
Since Wolves moved away from their Jorge Mendes ties, it has become a little less easy to predict their next move. Sergio Conceicao would have been a tap-in here, for example. The sort of gimme the end of this sorry feature needs.

Left-field it is. Once Gary O’Neil has become a full-time Monday Night Football analyst, there will be a Molineux vacancy that only someone of similar fastidiousness, intense focus on detail and probable obsession with PowerPoint presentations can fill.

Step forward Bielsa, most likely with some bizarre demands like coaching the youth team for a season first or working in the club shop every other Thursday.