FC Bayern München have moved swiftly to sack under-performing manager Carlo Ancelotti, but who are the leading candidates to replace him?
Managing the German giants may be one of the most coveted jobs in football, but it certainly isn’t for the feint of heart.
Ancelotti led Bayern to the Bundesliga title in his first season in charge, but that didn’t prove nearly enough to see him hold on to his job.
One lackluster month was all it took to send Ancelotti to the unemployment line, and any manager looking to replace him will know a similar fate awaits should they not deliver the necessary results.
With that in mind, we take a look at five possible replacements with the necessary grit and steel to take charge of the Bavarians.
1. Julian Nagelsmann
There has been long speculation that wunderkind Julian Nagelsmann will be the man to replace Ancelotti at Bayern.
The 30-year-old has done wonders at his current club, TSG 19899 Hoffenheim, turning them into Champions League contenders in only his second season as a head coach.
What’s more, Nagelsmann has never denied his wish to take up the reins at Germany’s biggest football club.
“Bayern Munich plays a big role in my dreams,” he recently told Eurosport. “I lived in Munich for many years. I come from Landsberg am Lech, not so far from Munich.
“My wife and my kid will also move to Munich shortly. We’re building a house there. It’s our hometown.
“I’m very happy in life – however, Bayern Munich would make me even happier. But it does not mean that my life fortune totally depends on Bayern Munich.”
A question mark remains over Nagelsmann’s youth, however, and whether he has the presence to command Bayern’s crop of stars, seasoned campaigners like Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery who are both older than him.
2. Thomas Tuchel
Thomas Tuchel’s tenure at Borussia Dortmund did not turn into the overwhelming success story both he and the club would have been hoping for, but he could provide the Bavarians with a necessary stop-gap measure.
Bayern could look to Tuchel, who remains a free agent since leaving Dortmund at the end of last season, and adopt a wait-and-see approach, calling on him to take charge for the rest of the season and appoint a proper successor – if needed – when the time comes.
While Tuchel could not equal predecessor Jurgen Klopp’s achievements at Signal Iduna Park, he remains a capable replacement, and he may not be open to simply filling in for the rest of the season.
Bayern may need to show more faith in the 44-year-old in order to lure him to the Allianz Arena.
3. Jurgen Klopp
While it is hard to see him departing Liverpool, there has been some talk that Bayern could spring a surprise and lure the charismatic Reds boss back to Germany.
Bayern know all about Klopp, of course, who toppled them off the top of the Bundesliga perch in both 2011 and 2012 during his hugely successful stint with Borussia Dortmund.
Aside from his two Bundesliga titles, he also led Dortmund to the German Cup in 2012 and the Super Cup in 2013 and 2014.
His proven ability to succeed at the highest level in Germany, together with the exciting and attacking brand of football he brings to all his teams, make him a highly attractive prospect.
While the 50-year-old seems firmly ensconced at Anfield, the Bayern job may be one of few offers that could tempt him away – particularly after a less than perfect start to the new Premier League season.
4. Willy Sagnol
It seems unlikely that a club like Bayern would be content with handing over the reins to Ancelotti’s No 2 on a permanent basis, but stranger things have happened.
Sagnol is currently the caretaker coach at Bayern, and if a suitable replacement isn’t found soon enough, he could be called on to an even greater degree in the near future.
A former France defender, Sagnol spent nine years with Bayern as a player, and has acted as Ancelotti’s assistant since Paul Clement left to take over at Swansea.
His biggest managerial achievement to date was taking charge of Bordeaux in 2014, although he was sacked last year after a 4-0 defeat to the club’s fiercest rivals, Toulouse.
That’s hardly the kind of pedigree Bayern are looking for in a manager, so Sagnon would consider himself exceedingly fortunate if he gets the job.
5. Luis Enrique
Another strong candidate by virtue of being a) available and b) a proven quantity with the necessary experience at the highest levels of European football.
Enrique’ recent time in charge of Barcelona started in blistering fashion, as he guided them to the European treble (after overcoming a tough first few months in charge).
He was not able to match those lofty heights in the seasons to come, however. Barca still managed to claim the Spanish double the following year, but the 2015-16 season delivered only the Copa del Rey.
That constituted a series of diminishing returns simply not good enough for a club like Barcelona.
Enrique appears to be enjoying him time away from the intense pressure of top-flight management, but could be lured back into the fray if the right offer from Bayern comes along.