Next Leicester Manager: Shakespeare backed in but Hodgson a lively outsider

Hodgson is only an outsider to replace Ranieri, but would be a smart choice
Hodgson is only an outsider to replace Ranieri, but would be a smart choice

After overseeing a fine 3-1 over Liverpool on Monday night, Craig Shakespeare has been backed in to replace Claudio Ranieri at Leicester but Alex Keble thinks the value lies with Roy Hodgson...

"A club of Leicester's size and stature is perfect for Hodgson; he would be the smartest choice, and thus well worth a bet should Shakespeare lose against Hull at the weekend. Unexpectedly hiring Hodgson would also align neatly with their last managerial decision, when they appointed someone experienced - but recently embarrassed - out of nowhere."

Whatever you make of Leicester City's decision to sack Claudio Ranieri, the timing of his dismissal was a little strange. The absence of an obvious successor suggests the board acted hastily and without due diligence, making their hunt for a new head coach difficult to predict. None of the main contenders look particularly sensible for a club in their position.

However, Leicester's decision appears to have been vindicated by Monday night's 3-1 win over Liverpool, when a shameful improvement from the players proved they had stopped fighting for the man who won them the title. Craig Shakespeare has become the new favourite to land the job (the Exchange market pays out after 10 games in charge) although his chances are high only thanks to a lack of interest from others.

Here are the top five contenders, according to the market. Odds correct at 11:00 on February 28.


Craig Shakespeare - 2.89/5


Shakespeare holds a unique position at Leicester, having been assistant to both Nigel Pearson and Ranieri - and thus the only senior coach to have been involved in their great escape of 2014/15 and title triumph the following season. It seems logical, then, that he will know how to get the most out of the players.

He is a well-respected coach (becoming part of the England setup under Sam Allardyce) and - crucially - is liked by the players, who appear to have an unusually influential role with the board. What's more, he will continue with the tactical approach that has defined the club since Pearson's final season.

Against Liverpool, they constantly attempted to release the re-energised Jamie Vardy with long passes (77 attempted), utilising the same counter-attacking 4-4-2 that won them the Premier League title. The sheer tenacity of their performance on Monday night suggests that the players will fight for him - which is surely the most important factor of all as they battle against the drop.

A win at home to Hull City this weekend, currently priced at 1.910/11, will go a long way to landing Shakespeare the job. to the end of the season at least.


Nigel Pearson - 7.06/1


Surely not? Pearson was sacked at the end of the 2014/15 season due to "fundamental differences" between himself and the board, and therefore it seems unlikely that Leicester's Thai owners would have the audacity to pick up the phone. What's more, Pearson had a disastrous spell in charge of Derby County this season, again falling out with his bosses and overseeing a terrible sequence of results.

The media would love to see Pearson return - not least because the symmetry of his re-appointment would be so amusing - but it is not a realistic option.


Guus Hiddink - 7.413/2


The former Chelsea manager has been approached by Leicester City, according to reports, although their attempts to persuade the Dutchman to come out of retirement may be futile.

Hiddink's ability to stabilise clubs at short notice makes him an ideal short-term solution. He only lost one league game during his first spell as Chelsea interim manager in 2009 (and won the FA Cup), and went unbeaten in his first 12 matches after replacing Jose Mourinho in 2015, a new record for an incoming Premier League manager.

Hiddink generally favours attacking football in a 4-3-3 formation, although it remains unlikely that he would attempt to make sweeping changes at such a critical time for Leicester. Intelligent and experienced, the 70-year-old would certainly be capable of keeping them up. However, he would not delay his retirement plans by more than a few months, making him a stopgap option; Leicester should instead find someone who can rebuild the club over the summer.


Roy Hodgson - 18.5


England's devastating defeat to Iceland at last summer's European Championships appears to have badly damaged Hodgson's reputation, but his success at club level should not be forgotten. Leicester could appoint a wise elder statesman who, not unlike Ranieri, has a proven track record at this level.

Hodgson unexpectedly kept Fulham in the Premier League in 2007/08, after taking the job in December and lifting the Londoners out of the bottom three. He went on to achieve enormous success at the club and, after a difficult time at Liverpool, was similarly effective for West Brom.

He is an intelligent and highly experienced manager who is known for his classy management style and steady hand. These are precisely the traits Leicester need to keep their heads above water and gradually rebuild; managing unrealistic expectations was, at least, something he did well when in charge of the national team.

A club of Leicester's size and stature is perfect for Hodgson; he would be the smartest choice, and thus well worth a bet should Shakespeare lose against Hull at the weekend. Unexpectedly hiring Hodgson would also align neatly with their last managerial decision, when they appointed someone experienced - but recently embarrassed - out of nowhere.


Alan Pardew - 21.020/1


Pardew's inability to arrest the decline at Crystal Palace makes him a risky option with so few games remaining. Arguably the least inspiring of the favourites, the 55-year-old has achieved little in his Premier League career besides one fifth-place finish with Newcastle United and an FA Cup final defeat with West Ham United.

His tactical approach is very similar to Ranieri's (quick wingers, and long-ball counter-attacks) but his failing Palace team is surely too fresh in the memory. There is next to no chance that Alan Pardew will be appointed Leicester manager.

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