It seems everyone has been caught off-guard by one the most inexplicable sackings in Premier League history. Sean Dyche, after 425 games and almost 10 years in charge, is no longer the Burnley manager.
Everton will be delighted. Despite Burnley being four points adrift in the relegation zone they looked likely to close the gap and performances had been improving of late, but now they will probably fall apart without the man who built this club single-handedly - turning Burnley into Premier League mainstays on a shoe-string budget.
Dyche has created a team and an identity so firmly in his image that any replacement will struggle to adapt - making the next eight games a bigger challenge than they already were. Worse still, Dyche was clearly the best man to take Burnley back into the Premier League if they were relegated, given that he has done it once before - winning the Championship with 93 points back in 2016.
Whoever comes next has a very tough job on their hands, and with the squad used to Dyche's old-school direct football there are only a few people in the game who could realistically make it work.
Chris Wilder wouldn't take the risk
It reflects the shocking nature of the sacking that the names on the list are so erratic. Chris Wilder has been installed as the early favourite at 2/1 and yet there is little reason to believe he would take the job at this point in the season. He only became Middlesbrough manager in November and things are going well; they are three points off the play-offs with a game in hand.
This only makes sense if Burnley wait until the end of the season to appoint a permanent manager, which is highly unlikely given the urgency of the situation. Burnley cannot rely on the strange mismash of under-23s coach Mike Jackson, academy director Paul Jenkins, Under-23s goalkeeping coach Connor King and club captain Ben Mee all being in charge.
Wilder would be wise to stay put. Even if they do go down, it won't be easy bringing Burnley back up.
Wayne Rooney can wait for a better offer
Again, why on earth would Rooney 10/3 take a risk on Burnley at this point? His stock is very high and he will want to wait for the right job opportunity, not take a hospital pass like this one. He turned down the chance of an interview at Everton out of loyalty to Derby County, meaning surely he would refuse to talk to the club until the summer.
Burnley are unlikely to be particularly keen on Rooney anyway, given he has not actually had any experience in normal circumstances, let alone the firefighter job that must be done in the final weeks of the season. This is another non-starter.
Allardyce is the sensible choice
Assuming he wants it, Sam Allardyce 9/2 would be a very good option - and if he misses the cut and thrust of the Premier League then this is his best chance. Allardyce's brand of football is loosely similiar to Dyche's, in that there is an element of no-nonsense to it; he will play the percentages and look to squeeze the most out of the squad with bullish long-ball football.
Allardyce has not retired, rather gone out of fashion. He decided to quit as West Brom manager after failing in a similar fire-fighting role at the end of last season and has been out of work ever since, which is a good omen for the Burnley hierarchy. After all, they are in a more hopeful position than WBA were - and already play the sort of football that Big Sam would encourage.
Duff doesn't have enough experience
Former Burnley player Michael Duff 9/1 is a candidate thanks to his historic links to the club and the fact his first foray into management is going very well. Duff, who played 342 games for Burnley before retiring in 2016, was reserve team manager at the club fo two years before landing the Cheltenham Town role.
He has been in the job for nearly four years, and after securing automatic promotion from League Two last season Cheltenham are currently 12th in League One. Duff has been impressive, but surely his lack of experience puts the Burnley job beyond his reach.
Pulis 22/1 best of rest
The rest of the market looks all over the place, with everyone from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 20/1 to Marcelo Bielsa 50/1 appearing somewhere on a very long list. Arguably the most realistic is Nuno Espirito Santo 12/1, although he is probably hoping to land a little higher - and is likely to be willing to accept a job outside of England that is more reputable than Burnley.
As an outsider, Tony Pulis 22/1 is worth a bet. The last five years have not been kind to Pulis, who had two solid but unspecactular years at Middlesbrough before an ignominous one-month spell at Sheffield Wednesday in 2020. He has been out of work since, but as another classic fire-fighter manager famous for his long-ball football, Pulis wouldn't be the worst fit at Burnley.