The search for the next West Ham manager begins as Manuel Pellegrini was axed before the New Year.
Nobody can accuse the Hammers hierarchy of not backing the Chilean coach. He had plenty of money to spend, but results were a far cry from the ambition.
Record recruitment by West Ham hasn’t brought progress with it. They end 2019 a point and place above the Premier League relegation zone.
Players purchased for Pellegrini have really let him down. As with Manchester City when they openly courted Pep Guardiola, he has conducted himself with dignity.
The question now is will the Hammers go back to the future or try something different?
Appeasing angry fans who have never quite settled into the London Stadium after leaving Upton Park may not be a factor in the new appointment.
West Ham co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan, backed up by Karen Brady, have a mixed record with coaches.
Getting this one right is crucial. The Hammers’ Premier League status is threatened and that was certainly not their intention.
What does the early betting on the next West Ham manager with bookmakers tell us? Let’s find out.
Moyes return anticipated
David Moyes has had his name bandied about in connection with former club Everton of late. The Toffees went for the much higher profile Carlo Ancelotti, however.
Now the rumour mill strongly links Moyes with coming back to the Hammers. It was his last job in management replacing Slaven Bilic in November 2017.
Moyes won less than a third of his 31 games in charge. That was enough preserve West Ham as a Premier League club, though, and it is once again the priority.
He was only a short-term appointment in 2017-18 and it’s possible the club will look at a similar arrangement now.
Some of the sides Moyes’ Hammers beat in Premier League action – West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City and Huddersfield Town – are no longer top flight teams.
Others like Watford and Southampton are familiar relegation rivals. Moyes is a long odds-on favourite at the time of writing to be next West Ham manager, but it’s not an inspiring choice.
That won’t matter to Brady, Gold and Sullivan. They may have better options to look at long-term over the summer and another brief stint for Moyes with the Hammers could be on the cards.
Benitez on next West Ham manager wishlist
Rafa Benitez took Newcastle United back into the Premier League and made them a top half team on a shoestring budget. No wonder he’s of long-standing interest to the West Ham hierarchy.
The difficulty with ex-Liverpool boss Benitez is the Spaniard signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Chinese Super League club Dailan Yifang this past summer after leaving St James’ Park.
He has admirers in the Hammers boardroom, though, and they could pursue him. Like Moyes, Benitez has plenty of Premier League experience from spells at Anfield, Chelsea and on Tyneside.
Whether the West Ham project will interest him remains to be seen. Benitez has been consistently linked with the club when managerial vacancies have arisen.
Although he has vowed to return to the Premier League one day, this may not be the right time or job. Other veteran bosses like Sam Allardyce and Pellegrini have found the Hammers fanbase hard to satisfy.
Benitez has had his fair share of roles where he wasn’t loved. Inter Milan, Chelsea and Real Madrid immediately spring to mind.
Kovac an interesting outsider
Former Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac coached record West Ham transfer buy Sebastien Haller to great effect at Eintracht Frankfurt.
The Croatian signed the French forward to the Bundesliga club in the first place. Kovac upset Bayern in the DFB Pokal final of 2018 which led to his move between the German sides.
What Hammers fans wouldn’t give for a proper cup run. Kovac has always taken domestic trophies like those seriously and also guided Bayern to the Pokal the following season.
His departure from Munich is the only concern. Some reports claim Kovac lost the dressing room at the Allianz Arena this autumn.
It would also be a gamble because he doesn’t have any working knowledge of English football. Sullivan, Gold and Brady are old hands at this and rarely take chances with their appointments.
Fresh ideas and new perspectives could work wonders for West Ham. Some sections of supporters would like to see the board think outside the box with this appointment.
Usual suspects and former players make up other next West Ham manager options
Out of work veterans Chris Hughton and Tony Pulis are there in the market for this role.
Hammers fans despised the perceived lack of style under Sam Allardyce. Pulis has a similar reputation, so wouldn’t be popular.
His playing career with Tottenham apart, the solid if tactically predictable Hughton would be a good choice. The teams he set up with Newcastle, Norwich City and Brighton were all organised.
The board could always rope in a former player to show the current crop the West Ham way.
Here, we are talking about Fulham boss Scott Parker – who couldn’t keep the Craven Cottage club up last season – or Charlton Athletic counterpart Lee Bowyer.
A really risky option for next West Ham manager would be Paolo Di Canio. He once saved Sunderland from he drop and is beloved by Hammers fans from his playing days.
Beyond that, there are other recently sacked bosses to consider. Unai Emery, Javi Gracia and Marco Silva are joined by fellow Iberians such as Leonardo Jardim and Marcelino Garcia Toral in looking for work.