With Leicester City facing a relegation battle and questions over Brendan Rogers’ future, here is a look at who could replace him as manager?
After an injury-hit crisis campaign last season and loss of key players this summer, Leicester now sit bottom of the Premier League with a single point from seven matches, having scored 10 goals yet worringly conceded 22 goals in a series of defensively poor performances.
Questions consequently are swirling around the East Midlands around Rogers’ future as manager of a club who only signed two new players this summer – Alex Smithies and Wout Faes amidst ten permanent departures and seven loan exits.
Now if the club were to ultimately decide to make a change and sack Rogers during this month’s international break, here is a look at four managers who surely deserve to be in contention to replace him as manager.
Already touted as hot favourite for the job at Leicester, Brentford’s Thomas Frank has already proved his worth in the top-flight, having kept Brentford up last season with a 13th placed finish and 11 points clear of Burnley – who finished 18th out of the three relegated clubs.
Frank has also established an exciting style of football centred around high pressing as a collective unit across the pitch with a vertical attacking style, which enabled wide players on the wing to play a crucial role in quick aggressive attacks – especially if playing at fullback position.
My biggest concern though for Frank if he became Leicester manager now, his first priority would have to be to sort out their defensive ability, which has simply been woeful in every manner possible this season and create a cohesive unit who can adapt to his high pressing style.
One positive though is that he would inherit a strong midfield and attack who are still capable of creating chances and scoring goals, so the attacking aspect of his style wouldn’t need much tweaking except in terms of utilising best qualities of key players like James Maddison and Jamie Vardy.
In terms of young players, Frank has done a great job with players like Rico Henry, Sergi Canos and Bryan Mbeumo at Brentford, which would be a real benefit for young Leicester players like Luke Thomas, Kieran Dewsbury-Hall and Patson Daka who could be key players in coming seasons.
Frank therefore would make ideal sense as someone with current Premier League experience and ability to nurture young players, whilst making wise player recruitment decisions as demonstrated by signings like David Raya, Christian Norgaard and Ivan Toney at Brentford.
His player recruitment quality would particularly be welcome at a club who barely spent cash this summer and now need fresh defensive plus goalkeeping reinforcement, as well as a general refresh given the now-stale longevity of several players at the club over the last decade.
Financial issues at Leicester though could be the only stumbling block because they likely would have to offer a sizeable compensation package to Brentford, in order to secure Frank who seems settled in West-London at present and happy with his current project.
If Leicester want a proven manager with previous Premier League and international experience, Mauricio Pochettino would be a worthy candidate, given his managerial stature for nurturing youth and high pressing football.
Pochettino therefore would inherit a strong squad already capable of strong attacking quality, yet he would face a tough task to restore confidence in a sluggish defence who currently seem to lack the ability to suit his quick-press and play-out-of-defence qualities of defensive play.
Another issue that Pochettino would need to overcome is a lack of quality goalkeepers – Danny Ward, Alex Smithies and Daniel Iversen, who are all of Championship standard than regular Premier League goalies and those available on free transfers at present aren’t much better.
His immediate priority if took over now therefore would have to simply be about reigniting the overall quality of current squad and climbing the table, ahead of diving into January’s transfer window to bring in extra reinforcement where appropriate.
Leicester though would be a fairly long-term project as the club faces a new era with many of their old guard having left or set to leave within next few seasons, which is something that Pochettino might relish like he did at Tottenham for five years until his vision went stale.
With Leicester generally considered a top-ten club, Thomas Tuchel surely deserves to be considered as a potential candidate following his departure from Chelsea in recent weeks.
Known for his ‘gegenpress’ counter-press style of play, Tuchel could be just what Leicester need if they’re to evolve and progress forward again out of their current staleness with a revamped style of play given his flexible formation styles.
Tuchel also often likes to deploy deep lying central midfielder across his formations so would have the ideal players in Boubakary Soumare and Nampalys Mendy at his disposal to build the team around, although Wilfred Ndidi, Dewsbury-Hall and Youri Tielemas are adequate alternatives.
Shoring up Leicester’s defence though has to be a top priority which is something that Tuchel could relish the task of, given that his defensive tactics are often connected to central midfield which could help create solidness if the defence and central midfield can gel quickly.
Tuchel also possesses an eye for youth talent which is Leicester has a fair number of at present with players like James Justin and Soumare, whilst there are various ageing players set for the exit door in coming seasons so the German could be key in building a new generation of Foxes.
That particular task though would suit Tuchel whose ambition hasn’t always aligned with those who own his previous clubs, yet Leicester seem to be at a crossroads in terms of squad freshness and mixture of age especially in defence which offers Tuchel a chance to build his own squad in time.
Either way, Tuchel might seem a long shot but he is a manager with well-known quality, having guided Chelsea to the Champions League title plus two FA Cup Final defeats and one League Cup Final loss during his time at Stamford Bridge.
I therefore wouldn’t be surprised if Leicester took a punt on Tuchel to reverse their fortunes and gave him maximum support to evolve the squad in the long-term, although financial issues could cast doubt in terms of wages and spending ability.
Perhaps the safest option available to Leicester would be Sean Dyche for financial reasons due to Financial Fair Play constraints, as the man who many often call the ‘Ginger Mourinho’ would be an easy appointment in terms of wages compared to Pochettino or Tuchel who are also freely available.
Dyche also posseses that important ability to work within tight budgets as he had often done across his decade at Burnley – which ended in April -, which will suit Leicester in the short-term especially on top of his vital knowledge of surviving relegation scraps.
That particular knowledge in terms of relegation fights will be vastly beneficial for a team which has just two players from their last proper battle for survival in 2014-15 season, with only Marc Albrighton and Jamie Vardy still at the club so Dyche can add extra edge from a managerial perspective.
There however will be questions around whether Dyche would be the ideal fit long-term once Leicester have overcome their financial difficulties, as the Foxes will be expected to be again fighting for top-seven finishes which is something which Dyche has only achieved once with Burnley.
Now if you were chairman and faced with the prospect of appointing Dyche, it is a tough one because survival is the priority and he has experience in keeping clubs up amidst financial hardship, plus knows how to win promotion if the Foxes end up back in the Championship.
On the other hand, Dyche is quite inexperienced in handling long-term regular fights for a place in UEFA competitions, as well as cup runs which is something that fans will be wary of – given that the furtherest Burnley went was to Fifth Round of FA Cup twice during his reign.
As for Dyche’s European exploits with the Clarets, well they only got as far as the Play-Offs in 2018-19 UEFA Europa League where they were comfortably beaten by Olympiacos, underlining questions about how he likely would handle UEFA competitions with Leicester.
The size of Leicester’s vision in terms of timespan and financial power though would likely be decisive in determining if they gambled on appointing Dyche to replace Rogers or not.