Gus-PoyetAs the hunt for Leeds United’s next manager gets under way, we take a look at the main contenders to succeed Neil Warnock.

Martin O’Neill 

The fans favourite according to a recent poll here on The Scratching Shed and easily the most experienced manager on the list.

Certainly has the credentials and has proven he can manage under the intense pressures found at big clubs, but he doesn’t do much to set the heart racing.

Feels a bit like Neil Warnock all over again, an appointment based on CV rather than the necessary desire and passion to succeed. He’ll certainly do the basics right, the team will be well-organised and hard to beat, and his many years in the game will give him an advantage over everyone else on this list when it comes to the transfer market.

But it just feels like he’s missing that little bit of spice we all want in our next manager. Someone who can really get the fans excited and turn attentions back towards the football.

He’s the sensible man’s choice I guess, but don’t expect much in the way of entertainment.

Brian McDermott

Young, good eye for a player and most importantly, proven at this level.

Dan from Reading FC blog The Tilehurst End makes a compelling case for McDermott, but could he cope with the pressures of this appointment? It’s the key question you have to ask of every candidate, because it’s been the undoing of so many men who came before them.

Gus Poyet

Attractive football, young, good with youth, knows the club and has proven himself to be an excellent manager during his time at Brighton.

Probably the best choice of them all, but he doesn’t have vast experience and while Brighton may be in the play-off positions at this moment in time, getting a club promoted is an entirely different thing.

I’d also be a little concerned that our fans have hyped Poyet up a little too much. He’s portrayed as something of a messiah, the only man who could possibly lead Leeds United back to the promised land. It’s a nice thought, but there’s a lot more to managing Leeds United than there is Brighton, the level of expectation at this club calls for someone who knows how to manage it. Hard to say whether Gus is that man.

David O’Leary

I don’t know if he’s actually a contender, but a part of me REALLY wants David O’Leary. It’s probably heart ruling head, but there’s a real sense of adventure to such an appointment, a name who would really put the focus back on football at Elland Road.

It would all be a bit of circus initially as the press cast their predictions on the O’Leary project part 2 and fans clamber back to Elland Road curious to see the effect the fallen Irishman has, but could he really orchestrate a fairytale ending to Leeds United On Trial?

It’s impossible to say, but while his doubters exaggerate faults and his plaudits ignore that he has some, there’s little balance to be found when you dare to utter his name. For me, it’s worth remembering that O’Leary’s biggest crime as Leeds United boss was finishing 4th in the Premier League.

Many of his other perceived failings should be attributed to Peter Ridsdale and his merry band of financial geniuses that made up the Living The Dream boardroom we had back then. O’Leary may have asked for every player Ridsdale brought in, but it was Ridsdale offering clubs twice their asking price and giving players ludicrous contracts, well above what any of them were expecting.

At Aston Villa, O’Leary couldn’t repeat the success he had at Leeds, but the first two seasons weren’t bad at all. He’s been out of the game a little too long, his eye for a player is hit and miss (isn’t every managers?) and he’s never managed in the Championship. But on the plus side, he’s excellent with youth players, can handle the pressures of the Leeds United job, plays good football and has a point to prove.

It could go spectacularly wrong, but what if it doesn’t? After 14 months of unbearable tedium with Neil Warnock at the helm, at least it’d be entertaining. And it’d be one hell of a footballing redemption if he could pull it off, a real story for the ages.

And the rest… 

Of the other names on the bookies list, Owen Coyle does little to inspire much excitement but he could definitely “do a job” as Leeds fans like to say. Paul Lambert would be an excellent appointment if Aston Villa decide to let him go, but they do seem surprisingly intent on keeping him.

Mark Hughes or Michael Appleton simply won’t happen, the owners will be aware of fans feelings towards both and since neither of them have a CV worth considering in the first place, there’s absolutely no sense in taking a chance on them. Simply won’t happen.

As for the rest, it seems to be a list of out-of-work managers with numbers next to their names, I doubt the majority of them have even been considered, the bookies just need to keep people interested so will throw a load of random names into the mix to create discussion and remind people they can bet.

I personally think the club are waiting to see what happens with Brighton as it probably determines the availability of Gus Poyet, a man who appears to tick every box on Salem Patel’s list of desired criteria. However, the Yorkshire Evening Post are today reporting that it would take £2.5m in compensation to get Gus Poyet to Elland Road, so that may have changed things. It’s an awful lot of money for someone with limited experience.