Real Madrid are currently searching their 11th manager in ten years
Standing outside the awe-inspiring Santiago Bernabeu, it is difficult to describe this marvel as anything other than an unconquerable fortress. The instant appeal to both players and coaches alike is considerable. Yet for the latter, the managerial hot seat has become something of a poisoned chalice with Real Madrid searching for the 11th leader of their famous battalion in 10 years.
During that time, the club, considered by many as the most glamorous on the planet, has won a paltry six major trophies. Compare that ugly statistic to the magnificent 20 pieces of silver collected by fierce rivals FC Barcelona, and it is of paramount importance to both the Los Blancos fans and their board that the power shift in Spanish football is immediately addressed.
This seemed like a done deal during the summer of 2010. Tearfully fresh from winning a historic treble with Internazionale, the self-anointed Special One agreed to takeover at Real. The man on the street seemingly thought this was a recipe for success but the Portuguese was unable to replicate his magic from his previous spells which also included FC Porto and Chelsea.
Aside from impressively delivering a La Liga crown (in addition to an earlier Copa del Rey) amidst a period of Catalan dominance, his tenure at the Bernabeu will be notorious for eye-gouging and additional tomfoolery which finally made his position untenable.
So what now? Real president Florentino Perez, recently re-elected after his presidential race against... himself (no other candidates), is in no rush to appoint a successor according to his statements on Spanish television programme Los desayunos de TVE.
"In the coming days, we will look at the coaching staff and decide what we want for next season. We will not rush, because the important thing is not to do it tomorrow but to do it well.”
There is never a shortage of names when the Real Madrid hot seat becomes vacant. Narrowing the list down to five meant we lost some good men along the way.
Jupp Heynckes lifts the Champions League at Wembley
There should be honourable mentions for Jupp Heynckes and Roberto Mancini. With both managers currently out of work, their appointment would have eliminated the usual kerfuffle of release clauses (and the rest), but due to mitigating circumstances and competition respectively, they failed to make the cut.
After leading the Bavarians to an unprecedented treble, Heynckes now hands over the baton to the inbound Pep Guardiola.
Fresh from Manchester City parting company with Roberto Mancini, he seems to have followed Mourinho down the path of dressing room discontent, thus making his selection for the Real hot seat an unlikely one. That said, the Italian is no stranger to winning trophies and his teams have always caught the eye with pleasing football—two of Real’s prerequisites.
Click next to see who makes the top 5.
Jurgen Klopp has become a man in demand throughout Europe
By transforming Borussia Dortmund's fate from near extinction to Bundesliga champions, Jurgen Klopp is a man in demand. His entertaining young side has been the envy of most club owners in Europe, particularly during a time when Financial Fair Play rules should be reducing disproportionate expenditure.
Furthermore his infallible demand for a united footballing family is a virtue which would benefit the current Real dressing room, which contains dominant characters such as Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo. Although a repeat of Klopp's pre-season with Mainz after their promotion to the Bundesliga is unlikely.
Despite the constant speculation, Klopp has reiterated his desire to see out his contract until 2016 with the Champions League finalists, according to the Daily Mail.
However, his project at the Westfalenstadion is constantly being derailed as he helplessly watches rival clubs cherry pick his best talent. If, as expected, Robert Lewandowski follows Mario Gotze for pastures new, it could be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
Atletico's players toast their coach following their Copa del Rey win against Real Madrid
In May, Atletico Madrid beat their cross city rivals 2-1 to win the Copa del Rey. It compounded Jose Mourinho’s miserable final season, but for Los Rojiblancos this was a significant victory—their first in 14 years over Real. Combined with their third place La Liga finish, it was certainly an impressive season for both Atletico and coach Diego Simeone.
For a club which has largely been overshadowed by Real during its entire history, Simeone has now won the Europa League, European Super Cup and the Copa del Rey with Atletico in the last 18 months.
Could his next stop be the Bernabeu?
Undoubtedly one of the best players to grace European football, Michael Laudrup played at the Bernabeu for two seasons during the mid 1990s. His transfer from Barcelona was a key factor in Los Blancos breaking up Barcelona's domestic supremacy.
As an ex-player, Laudrup understands Real and it seems that Perez may be heading down the Barca and Pep Guardiola path when he said "we are studying possibilities that no-one could imagine."
The assumption here is that Perez means ex-players. Laudrup is certainly not the rookie that Guardiola was, having accumulated managerial experience in Denmark, Russia, Spain and now England. His Swansea City side surprised many last season with League Cup success and a comfortable mid-table finish.
The Dane earned plaudits for his side's style of football plus the astute La Liga signings made last summer. Although he has pledged his future to Swansea according to The Guardian, the club's failure to match Laudrup's ambition in their transfer targets has led to intense speculation linking him with a return to Los Blancos.
In addition to Laudrup, another ex-Real great is being considered...
He may be inexperienced but he is a Madridista
Upon questioned whether Zinedine Zidane could step into the Bernabeu dugout, Perez said on Los desayunos de TVE, "It’s possible. He has his coaching certificate, he is competent and he’s a madridista."
Zidane has been at Real Madrid in a technical capacity since 2009. Shortly after Mourinho's appointment in Madrid, the Portuguese man somewhat surprisingly urged Zidane to be closer to the team in a special advisory capacity, according to Reuters. Two years later in 2011, the Frenchman became Real's sporting director.
A former Ballon d'Or winner, Zidane retired with an impressive repertoire. He won the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championships with Les Bleus plus two Serie A titles, one La Liga triumph and the Champions League whilst at Juventus and Real Madrid (CL was won with the latter).
His last competitive game was the 2006 World Cup final where he is remembered for receiving his marching orders after headbutting Marco Materazzi. Although the Italians went on to win via penalties, Zidane still returned to France as a hero.
Although "Zizou's" understanding of Real Madrid's current philosophy will be better than most, a major stumbling block would be his lack of coaching experience. Envisaging Zidane on the bench next season, in any capacity other than assistant coach, appears to be somewhat remote.
But then again, as per Perez, it's possible...
Carlo Ancelotti celebrates PSG's Ligue 1 triumph
By far and away, Carlo Ancelotti is the bookmakers' favourite for the Bernabeu top job and Perez did confirm on Los desayunos de TVE that Real Madrid had approached Paris Saint-Germain for the Italian's services:
"A few days ago, the club's director general spoke to PSG to see whether it was possible that he could come and they told us no. That is an issue that we will address tomorrow, we have a few days to think about it. There are several candidates [not just Ancelotti]."
Make no mistake, Ancelotti is the outstanding candidate. His managerial CV does share an uncanny resemblance to that of Mourinho's before his Los Blancos appointment. League titles won in three different countries and two Champions League titles (albeit Ancelotti won both with Milan). In addition, both managers have had successful Chelsea careers under Roman Abramovich—that is until they were both shown the door.
Importantly though, playing wise, their careers could not be more different. Mourinho's playing background was non-existent whilst Ancelotti formed part of the great Arrigo Sacchi Milan side who triumphed with back-to-back European Cup victories in the late 1980s.
Furthermore the Italian, in stark contrast to the Special One, has set a precedent of defending his players in public, regardless of their performances, particularly Fernando Torres at Chelsea and David Beckham at PSG.
Taking these traits into consideration, it would be a huge surprise not to see Carlo Ancelotti in the Real Madrid dugout next season.