Antonio Conte is widely expected to leave Chelsea at the end of the season. The Italian is reportedly unsettled in west London and has no intention of seeing out the third year of his contract, with Inter Milan waiting in the wings for Conte to become available. It is one of the worst kept secrets in football that Roman Abramovich, Conte, and the players know he won’t be in England come August.
Chelsea’s model of short-term appointments has worked pretty well for Abramovich, but there are reports he is considering a younger coach and the idea of a longer project. With Thomas Tuchel unavailable and the club unlikely to take risks (this is a huge summer of rebuilding), the more obvious candidates are Luis Enrique, Max Allegri, and Maurizio Sarri. Allegri has refused to commit his future to Juve, while Sarri would probably jump at the chance to swap Napoli for Chelsea; both have an authoritative approach that would align with the Mourinho/Conte foundations.
Sam Allardyce’s contract doesn’t run out until the summer of 2019 but the voices of dissent inside Goodison Park cannot be ignored. The fans want him out, and it increasingly appears that the owner and chairman are ready to move on having witnessed Big Sam get booed even when the Toffees win. Considering his negativity in press conferences and his dull brand of football, it would be a huge mistake to trust Allardyce with a big transfer kitty this summer.
Chairman Bill Kenwright reportedly prefers Eddie Howe while owner Farhad Moshiri is still keen on Marco Silva. This might delay a decision being made (although either coach would take the job) unless Silva gets tired of waiting and looks elsewhere. The one thing Kenwright and Moshiri agree on is appointing a younger coach with fresh tactical ideas, ruling out Louis van Gaal and Carlo Ancelotti. Shakhtar Donetsk’s Paulo Fonseca is another decent option.
The Telegraph reported in late April that Claude Puel was “fighting to save his job,” and so it comes as no surprise that the 5-0 defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend left the Frenchman on the brink, according to The Times. These are not rumours: a run of two wins from 11 Premier League games has left the club feeling their mild-mannered coach produces flat and uninspiring football, exactly what Southampton concluded at the end of 2016/17.
Marco Silva is an attractive option who is reportedly highly thought of in the Foxes boardroom, but the Portuguese may get better offers elsewhere. Manuel Pellegrini is an ambitious alternative, the Chilean potentially available this summer given how poorly he is performing in the Chinese Super League with Hebei China Fortune. His quiet-spoken approach is perhaps too similar to Puel’s for such a powerful dressing room, making Brendan Rodgers or David Wagner much better targets.
David Moyes doesn’t fit the glamorous brand West Ham are attempting to build in their swanky new stadium, and since the club are still threatened with relegation the Scotsman’s position is far from secure. Moyes was only hired until the end of the season; one win form their previous eight, leaving them three points above the drop zone, probably means David Gold, David Sullivan, and Karen Brady won’t offer him an extension.
Appointing Louis van Gaal would fit snugly with the Hammers’ overly-ambitious (and naïve) attempts to project a sparkly image of their club to the world. Van Gaal – as ‘over the hill’ as Pablo Zabaleta, Patrice Evra, Joe Hart, or Javier Hernandez – makes sense for a board seemingly more interested in the illusion of owning a big club than actually taking the necessary steps. Eddie Howe would probably turn the job down, ditto Paulo Fonseca, which leaves few managers who would be interested in such a difficult task while also possessing the reputation the board desires. Manuel Pellegrini seems a decent Van Gaal-esque choice.
Mark Hughes was only appointed Southampton manager on a short-term deal, and yet if he keeps them up the Welshman might just be handed a contract extension – primarily because of a lack of options elsewhere. Saints aren’t quite in the same financial bracket as Everton or Leicester, meaning their top targets (Silva, Fonseca) probably wouldn’t be interested.
A change would still be worthwhile. Hughes does not play a particularly aesthetic style of football, or have a track record of developing youth, meaning his appointment would put a stop to Southampton’s tradition of sensible, progressive appointments. Instead, Saints should give the job to Graham Potter, the Ostersunds manager who has performed miracles in Sweden, taking them from the fourth tier to Europa League victory at Arsenal. He deserves a big job, and Southampton is exactly the sort of nurturing environment for Potter to lay some new foundations.