Gareth Southgate has been installed as strong favourite to replace Stuart Pearce as England U21 manager, with former Blackburn, Bolton and Portsmouth manager Michael Appleton, ex-Tottenham boss Glenn Hoddle and recently retired Everton stalwart Phil Neville also in the frame.
Pearce was dismissed on Tuesday evening after overseeing a woeful group-stage exit at the European Championship, where the Young Lions lost all three games and failed to score from open play.
Despite excelling in qualifiers throughout his six-year tenure, the former Manchester City manager managed just three wins in 15 tournament games and FA chairman David Bernstein admitted poor results had played a part in the decision.
“I’d like to thank Stuart Pearce for his hard work. Nobody can doubt his commitment to the job throughout his time as Under-21 coach,” said Bernstein.
“He has done extremely well in qualifying for finals tournaments, but after the disappointment of the past two tournaments, we believe it is time to change coach.”
Bernstein also hinted that the national governing body would not be rushed in their quest to find a suitable successor.
“It is important the organisation now considers the best approach for the role of Under-21 coach and how this works best within the overall England structure before making any new appointment,” he added.
Yet despite the FA being understandably keen to let the dust settle on Pearce’s departure, reports have suggested that Southgate is already high on its list of potential replacements.
The former Middlesbrough boss, who has been working as a TV pundit since leaving his post as head of elite player development at the FA last year, can be backed at 2/5 in our new next England U21 manager market.
Meanwhile, Appleton, who is believed to be held in high esteem by Roy Hodgson after he served as a coach under the current England boss during their time together at West Brom, is a solid second favourite at 15/4.
Neville is priced up at 16/1, although it remains to be seen whether being on Pearce’s coaching staff in Israel will be viewed as a black mark on his record if the FA decides the England U21 structure requires a wide-reaching overhaul.
Hoddle, who managed the senior side between 1996 and 1999, is actually shorter than Neville at 12/1, but he has apparently refused to throw his hat into the ring without guarantees that such a top-to-bottom revamp will take place.
Chief among the other contenders is ex-England U21 boss Peter Taylor – currently preparing to lead a different Young Lions side at the U20 World Cup – and he can be backed at 18/1 to accept the job for the third time in his career.
Gary Neville, who is part of Hodgson’s current coaching setup, and Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant at Manchester United, Mike Phelan, are both available at the same price as Taylor.
Further down the market, plenty of interesting long shots are provided by the likes of Alan Curbishley (25/1), Steve Coppell (28/1), Paul Scholes (28/1), Ray Lewington, Tim Sherwood, Tony Pulis, Eddie Howe and Lee Clark (all 33/1).
Who would you like to see as U21 boss? Have your say below!