Leicester City next manager - the dream, sneaky-good and romantic candidates

Nigel Pearson
-Credit: (Image: Will Cooper/REX/Shutterstock)

When Leicester City secured the Championship title in euphoric scenes at Preston North End a few weeks ago, a manager search was probably the last thing on their minds.

Yes, Enzo Maresca had his grumbles about recruitment and concerns about what might lay in store for the club in the summer transfer window, but there seemed little to suggest a parting of the ways.

Yet that’s exactly what happened on Monday when the Italian, seduced by the bright lights of London and seemingly not cowed by Chelsea’s own Profitability & Sustainability Rules concerns, was announced as the new man on the division’s hottest managerial seat.

That left the Foxes not only doing their PSR sums but also looking for a new candidate to fashion a team capable of staying in the Premier League despite whatever constraints, internal or external, are placed upon them in the coming months.

We at LeicestershireLive have looked at the list of candidates, real or imagined, and assessed them in turn.

READ MORE: The 10 Leicester City wonderkids who could save King Power millions

READ MORE: Leicester City 'speak to Carlos Corberan' as manager hunt ramps up

The dream candidate – Graham Potter

Football’s instinctive sense of irony could see City replace their departed manager with a man who last worked at…. Chelsea.

The 49-year-old has been biding his time since being dumped by Todd Boehly in April 2023. Lots of vacancies have come up, he’s been associated with several, but none have tempted the former Brighton boss back into the dugout.

It is reported that Potter is waiting for one of the giant jobs to become available, like England or Manchester United, which might make a move to the King Power highly unlikely.

However, the synergy seems clear. Potter can refurbish his reputation back in the Premier League, with a squad that has momentum and is used to playing the kind of possession-based football for which he made his name with the Seagulls and Swansea. His profile and track record would make it relatively straightforward to sell the transition – Maresca to Potter – as an upgrade rather than an inconvenience.

Sneaky good candidate – Carlos Corberan

Few City fans would reject the suggestion that Corberan’s West Brom gave their team as difficult a home match as any Championship side last season. Maresca’s team would not have won without the goal-line heroics of Hamza Choudhury.

That was a glimpse of one of the most organised sides in the division, one built by Corberan’s almost maniacal attention to detail, a trait he has demonstrated throughout his coaching career.

West Bromwich Albion manager Carlos Corberan -Credit:Richard Sellers/PA Wire
West Bromwich Albion manager Carlos Corberan -Credit:Richard Sellers/PA Wire

What Corberan lacks in profile he more than makes up for in ability, both as a tactician and a man-manager as demonstrated by the fact he not only coaxed striker-less Albion into the play-offs this season but almost dragged Steve Bruce’s mob close to a top six finish in 2022/23 too.

He also took Huddersfield to the play-off final in 2021/22 as well where they were on the wrong end of refereeing decisions and a 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest. He first came to the attention in this country as part of Marcelo Bielsa’s back room team at buccaneering Leeds United.

Romantic candidate – Nigel Pearson

The man who led Leicester City to the great escape in 2014/15 and whom many credit with laying the foundations of Claudio Ranieri’s title winning team, Pearson has had two spells in charge at the King Power. In his first he led the Foxes to the 2009 Championship title and returned to repeat the feat in 2014. Then came arguably his crowning glory, bottom at Christmas 2014, he led the club to a 14th-placed finish.

He’s been out of the game since leaving Bristol City last October – and just to sweeten the story even further why not add Andy King and Esteban Cambiasso to his back-room staff.

Everything adds up candidate – Oscar Garcia

The former Brighton boss is now at Leicester’s sister club OH Leuven, meaning he would be a cheap option against a backdrop of PSR concerns.

The 51-year-old has been having regular chats with director of football Jon Rudkin for several months and has already said it would be his dream to manage in England again. He is something of a coaching journeyman having also managed Watford, Maccabi Tel Aviv, RB Salzburg, Saint-Etienne, Olympiacos, Celta and Reims.

The gamble – Ruud Van Nistelrooy

The former Manchester United striker is at the very start of his management career. And what a start it has been too.

In his one season in charge, the 2022/23 campaign Van Nistelrooy’s PSV finished second in Eredivisie to new Liverpool manager Arne Slot and his Feyenoord side, but they did go on to win the Dutch Cup, beating Ajax on penalties in the final. They also had the best attack in the league. The Dutchman has recently expressed his desire to coach in Spain or the Premier League. His stock his high but his reservoir of experience is low. King Power have never appointed a manager who didn't at least have some coaching experience in England, and that could rule the former striker out.

The favourite - Steve Cooper

The bookmakers have the former Nottingham Forest man as the odds-on favourite to get the job. Cooper had success in the England age groups, impressed at Swansea and dragged a Forest team from the Championship relegation places into the play-offs and then into the Premier League.

Not only that, with his club going on a breath-taking trolley dash of a transfer window he found enough quality to fashion a team that would stay in the top flight. That's pretty much the brief at the King Power. It might not be a mouthwatering appointment but it would be safe.