Alex Keble takes a look at the leading candidates to replace Paul Clement as Swansea City manager and predicts a return to the Premier League for Louis van Gaal...
"The club are targeting someone with Premier League experience who plays the 'Swansea way' - a reaction to their slow decline over the past few years, in which their possession-based philosophy was abandoned by successive managers. This is a job description that quickly rules out quite a few of the bookies' favourites."
Swansea City aren't wasting any time in their pursuit of a new head coach following the dismissal of Paul Clement on Wednesday evening. Despite refusing to contact anyone while Clement was still employed, the club are hoping to appoint a successor within the next 24 hours and a replacement is already lined up, according to The Guardian.
The club are targeting someone with Premier League experience who plays the "Swansea way" - a reaction to their slow decline over the past few years, in which their possession-based philosophy was abandoned by successive managers. This is a job description that quickly rules out quite a few of the bookies' favourites.
With an appointment imminent (despite conflicting broadsheet reports indicating an open field), we take a look at the main candidates for the job and assess their credentials:
Tony Pulis - 8/11 (Betfair Sportsbook)
Bizarrely, the current favourite for the job is not even under consideration (according to reports in the Telegraph and the Guardian) because the board do not believe the Swansea squad is suited to Tony Pulis's methods.
The former West Brom manager would be very unpopular with supporters and certainly wouldn't utilise a progressive tactical philosophy, and so it is hardly surprising Pulis is not going to be interviewed. Presumably his short odds reflect a dearth of high-profile options available on the market - which potentially makes betting on one of the other candidates very profitable. Don't back Pulis.
Louis van Gaal - 7/2 (Betfair Sportsbook)
Swansea are trying to persuade Van Gaal to take the reins, according to John Cross in the Mirror, and it isn't difficult to see why. Not only does the Dutchman have Premier League experience, he is one of the founding fathers of tiki-taka football; Van Gaal would know exactly how to revive the spirit of the Brendan Rodgers years.
The ex-Manchester United manager is currently without a club and is believed to be interested in a Premier League role, although the Swans aren't a particularly appealing option unless they can promise plenty of cash in January.
Van Gaal is a very strong candidate. His reputation in the game ensures the Swansea players will respect his authority (meaning an initial bump in results is likely), while his tactics are perfectly aligned with the club's mantra.
Selling the project to such a prestigious manager is the only stumbling block, but realistically Van Gaal cannot expect a better job offer in Britain following the ignoble end to his United career. Back Van Gaal to get the job at 7/2.
Ronald Koeman - 9/1 (Betfair Sportsbook)
Another manager who knows the division is Ronald Koeman, although so recently after being sacked by Everton it doesn't seem likely he would rush to take a job at the bottom of the league. Koeman's stock remains high, particularly on the continent, and so Swansea will struggle to convince him - particularly when a quick turnaround is expected.
Tactically, Koeman wouldn't be a good fit. His somewhat prosaic style of football is far removed from the Swansea philosophy and is unlikely to trigger an upturn in the club's fortunes. His mild success at Southampton masked a gradual decline ever since Mauricio Pochettino left the club; Koeman doesn't coach players particularly well or play in an assertive tactical system, two things Swansea desperately need to avoid the drop. Given that he probably won't be interested anyway, don't back Koeman.
Leon Britton - 10/1 (Betfair Sportsbook)
Swansea City legend Leon Britton doesn't have any managerial experience but if the club fail to find a replacement before Saturday he might just become the favourite. If Britton is the caretaker manager for the side's home game against Crystal Palace on Saturday it will be because the board are struggling to find a candidate - and so victory against Roy Hodgson's side would make Britton an appealing choice.
As such a popular figure within the club, it is perfectly plausible that Britton would boost confidence inside the Liberty and do enough to secure the role full-time. What's more, Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins unexpectedly gave Garry Monk the job in February 2014 when the club were similarly in peril, further boosting Britton's chances. Don't back him just yet, but if Britton is still in charge on Saturday morning then he's worth a punt at 10/1.
Frank de Boer - 20/1 (Betfair Sportsbook)
Most of the other candidates either fail to meet the job specification (Michael O'Neill / Ryan Giggs) or have been ruled out of contention by broadsheet reports this morning (Slaven Bilic), which means an unexpected outsider could be about to take charge of Swansea City.
Frank de Boer is currently without a job following disastrous spells at Inter Milan and Crystal Palace, although many in the game believe the Dutchman was treated harshly by both clubs. De Boer was seen as too dogmatic with his tactical philosophy at Palace, where the squad was clearly unsuited to such a dramatic change, but this surely wouldn't be a problem at Swansea.
In fact, he is exactly the sort of idealist Jenkins likes, carrying a stature within the game similar to that of Michael Laudrup when he arrived in 2012. De Boer is definitely worth a small bet at 20/1 should it transpire that Van Gaal and Koeman aren't interested.