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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Contenders to replace under-fire Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid manager

Pochettino among favourites for Bernabeu hotseat

Mauricio Pochettino and Zinedine Zidane shake hands
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Successive Champions League triumphs don't count for much when results turn sour if you are manager of Real Madrid, and with the Spanish champions sitting fourth in La Liga, 19 points behind Barcelona, the pressure was already on under-fire boss Zinedine Zidane even before a midweek Copa del Rey exit at the hands of Leganes.

Zidane faces a make-or-break Champions League tie with Paris St-Germain next month but in the long term it is expected there will soon be a vacancy at the Bernabeu unless there is a remarkable turnaround in fortunes.

Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino is rated the bookmakers' favourite  to replace Zidane and here's our guide to the potential runners.

La Liga standings

Mauricio Pochettino (odds 7-2 Sky Bet)
Said he would rather work on a farm than manage Barcelona or Arsenal but the Tottenham boss did not rule out a switch to Real Madrid.

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Pochettino's reputation increased with the Champions League group-stage win over Real but could he command and control such a powerful dressing-room having never won a trophy as a manager?

Zidane was initially successful despite having had no previous top-flight managerial experience, although he immediately had clout as a legendary player, which is not something Pochettino can fall back on.

Thomas Tuchel (6-1)
Fell out with the power brokers at Borussia Dortmund and does not look a natural fit for the Bernabeu. Seen as a contender for Bayern Munich if veteran Jupp Heynckes departs this summer.

Antonio Conte (8-1)
Conte's reported fallout with Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia can surely only end one way and that's with a Stamford Bridge exit. Won trophies with Chelsea and Juventus so a possible replacement for Zidane, although some are tipping him to be next in at PSG.

Carlo Ancelotti (12-1)
Reputation took a knock at Bayern Munich but was well liked by the players during his previous stint at Real Madrid, during which they brought home their tenth European Cup. Can't be totally ruled out.

Joachim Low (14-1)
Judging by the rumours in the Spanish press he could be the value betting option. The long-standing Germany coach has a contract with the national team until after Euro 2020 but could the lure of Madrid tempt Low back to club management for the first time since 2004?

Max Allegri (14-1)
Reached two Champions League finals in three years at Juventus as well as maintaining their domestic dominance so has a worthy CV, although he has reportedly been taking English lessons which suggests a switch to the Premier League is more likely.

Diego Simeone (16-1)
He once told Ondo Cero: "I will never coach Real Madrid. It is logical because of feelings. They wouldn’t call me either." As well as the Atletico connection his style of play isn't exactly Real's type either.

Jurgen Klopp (20-1)
On a long-term contract and seems happy enough with life on Merseyside but some opportunities are just too big to turn down should Real Madrid come calling. However, language could be an issue seeing as motivational speaking is the way Klopp connects with his players and supporters.

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Could he demand control of such a powerful dressing-room having never won a trophy as a manager?
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