Could Slaven Bilic be an option for Burnley?
Burnley are in an unusual situation at a crunch time in the season.
After making the surprise decision to sack Sean Dyche on Friday - with no manager lined-up as his replacement - the club are hunting for a new manager for the first time since Eddie Howe’s exit in October 2012.
Mike Jackson was placed in caretaker charge for the creditable 1-1 draw at West Ham over the weekend, a result which edged Burnley to within three points of 17th-placed Everton with seven games remaining; albeit the Toffees have a game in hand.
The Athletic’s David Ornstein reports that Burnley are looking to make an interim appointment until the end of the season, then a long-term appointment in the summer. Although if the ideal candidate is found then they could be given the full-time job immediately.
The Clarets have drawn up a shortlist of candidates and have already begun the interview process as they bid to name a new boss before their next clash against Southampton on Thursday.
So, who could the relegation-threatened club realistically appoint right now?
NOTE: Caretaker and interim managers will not count as winners in this manager market unless they complete at least 10 competitive games.
Chris Wilder has emerged as one of the early favourites in the next Burnley manager market, however we can pretty much rule out an appointment at this stage of the season.
Wilder, who has won promotions from non-league to the Premier League, was appointed Middlesbrough manager in November and is currently bidding to lead his troops into the Championship play-offs then up into the Premier League.
He’s not going to suddenly switch jobs now. The summer could be a different story however.
Wayne Rooney is another manager who has been hotly linked with the vacancy since Friday. Derby’s shock win over Fulham that very night means that the club’s extremely slim hopes of remaining in the Championship have been prolonged to today (Monday) at least: relegation will be confirmed if Rooney’s troops - who face QPR - fail to match Reading’s result against Swansea.
Rooney has already attracted attention from Everton this year - he turned down an interview - and even if Derby’s seemingly imminent relegation is confirmed today it’s extremely difficult to envision the 36-year-old suddenly throwing himself into another relegation fight over at Turf Moor. Similarly to Wilder, Burnley could well have to wait on this one. As for the man himself, he said this when asked about the reported interest:
"I was surprised when I saw Sean Dyche had been sacked, he has been brilliant for Burnley for the last 10 years. I have seen the links in various news articles but for me what is important is I focus on trying to keep the club [Derby] in this division and the future, my future, depends on this takeover, that needs to be completed."
Michael Duff is another employed manager who features in the upper echelon of the market. Duff is on an upwards trajectory after leading Cheltenham to the League Two title last season, while he’s currently bidding for a top-half finish upon the club’s return to League One which would be a fantastic achievement.
Duff has previously played for and coached at Burnley which coupled with his impressive start to life in management has inevitably thrust his name into the conversation. He’s an ambitious boss and the chance to succeed his former manager Dyche would undoubtedly grab his attention.
Premier League Relegation Odds
An experienced out-of-work manager is perhaps far more likely to be on Burnley's radar.
Given the timing of Dyche’s exit and their position in the table it’s perhaps no surprise to see Sam Allardyce linked, in the betting at least. No manager has more Premier League clubs stamped on their CV than Big Sam - EIGHT - but the 67-year-old has only managed once in the last four years and that was a 26-game spell at West Brom last season, a job which saw him suffer his first ever Premier League relegation.
Sacking Dyche only to appoint Allardyce would be somewhat of a bewildering decision.
One manager who does catch the eye is Slaven Bilic.
The Croatian is available for hire having left Beijing Guoan a few months ago, he has Premier League experience from spells at West Ham and West Brom; leading the latter from the Championship to the top-flight at the first time of asking, which could be of interest to Burnley in the long-term given their precarious position in the table.
A short-term contract could well be a possibility right now followed by a review in the summer, with Bilic currently out at 25/1 to be the club's next permanent manager (he must manage at least 10 games for this bet to come in).
In a recent interview with The Athletic, Bilic revealed that a return to England could be on the cards. "I’ve spent most of my managerial career in England and Turkey. People there like me and I feel really good in those countries. It’s likely my next job will be in England or Turkey. That’s where I’ve made my name as a manager."
Could Burnley look to Rafa Benitez? The Spaniard remains in the North West after he was sacked by Burnley’s relegation rivals Everton in January. Nuno Santo, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and Daniel Farke could potentially be part of the conversation too given their availability.
Alternatively, one name to keep an eye on is former Man City captain Vincent Kompany whose odds were suddenly cut to 9/2 (Sky Bet) on Monday morning. Kompany is currently in charge of Anderlecht who are 3rd in the Belgian league. Admittedly, this would be a huge shock if it happened.
Caretaker Mike Jackson (33/1) is not expected to be named interim manager but could well find himself in the hot seat again on Thursday if Burnley haven’t found a replacement by then. Jackson bagged a point on the board against West Ham which moved the club to within three points of Everton ahead of their remaining seven games against Southampton (h), Wolves (h), Watford (a), Aston Villa (h), Spurs (a), Aston Villa again (a), and Newcastle (h).