Here are five managers who could be on Southampton’s short-list after Ronald Koeman opted to swap the south coast for Everton.
Southampton are hunting for their third manager in three years after Koeman was confirmed as manager of the Goodison Park club on a three-year deal with a reported £100million transfer budget.
Koeman’s departure comes only two years after Mauricio Pochettino joined Tottenham, leaving Saints needing another new boss as they look to keep pace with the top six next season.
Here are five contenders for the job.
Frank de Boer
De Boer continues to be linked with almost every managerial vacancy in the Premier League but the Dutchman looks a prime candidate for St Mary’s. Like Koeman, he has excellent pedigree as a player at Ajax and Barcelona, while as manager he won a fourth consecutive Eredivisie title with Ajax in 2014 before resigning in May to seek a new challenge.
He was also part of the coaching team that took Holland to the 2010 World Cup final and favours the sort of attacking, possession-based football Southampton fans enjoy. Saints, however, may look for someone with more managerial experience in a top European league while De Boer might have his own sights set higher.
It is hard to think of any young English manager held in such high esteem as Howe, whose work turning Bournemouth into an established top-flight club has been nothing short of remarkable. Leading the Cherries to three promotions and then a 16th-place finish last season makes him an exciting prospect for any club and he would enjoy a bigger budget at Southampton, as well as the test of European football.
Whether he would risk his reputation with Bournemouth fans by joining a south-coast neighbour is unknown while the last time Saints poached a rival boss, Harry Redknapp from Portsmouth, it ended in relegation.
Unsuccessful at Manchester United and most recently, Real Sociedad, Moyes’ next job could prove the most important of his managerial career. He is still rated highly in England, where his work over 11 years at Everton is not forgotten and his spell at Old Trafford has been given greater perspective after the struggles of Louis van Gaal.
He will certainly be desperate to prove himself again and knows the division well, particularly the sort of jump Southampton want to make from the top eight to top four. Koeman, however, repeatedly said he wanted the club to match his ambition and if they were unable to satisfy the Dutchman, Moyes may have doubts also. Saints may wonder if Moyes’ functional style of football is suitable and whether the Scot’s best coaching days are behind him.
Pellegrini, who turns 63 this year, may not offer the long-term project put forward by other candidates but he is also likely to be the only one with a Barclays Premier League title on his CV. Pellegrini also left Manchester City with two League Cups to his name, as well as a heap of goodwill for his swashbuckling brand of football and his integrity, in the face of trying circumstances around the appointment of his successor.
The Spaniard said he would be keen on staying in England but Saints may have doubts about both his hunger after 28 years in management, and the way things ended with City, who endured the most underwhelming of campaigns last season. It would be foolish not to consider a former Real Madrid boss with extensive European experience, but is he the right fit for Southampton?
While Giggs’ future on Jose Mourinho’s coaching staff at Manchester United remains unclear, Southampton might consider giving the Welshman a call. It would certainly be a left-field move but Saints have shown themselves unafraid to take risks with up and coming managers in the past.
Pochettino had even less experience of coaching in the Premier League while few had Koeman down to take over in 2014. If Giggs wants more responsibility than is being offered at Old Trafford, he could do worse than cutting his teeth at a stable club with a strong youth system and clear-minded ownership. It would be a bold move by Southampton. Giggs could prove he is not cut out for management or they might unearth the next Pep Guardiola.