Hughes is gone so who's next?

WOLFSBURG GERMANY - JANUARY 29: Steve McLaren head coach of Wolfsburg looks on during the Bundesliga match between VfL Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund at Volkswagen Arena on January 29 2011 in Wolfsburg Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Even with the expected turbulence that football has always coincided with, I don't think many could have seen the events of Thursday evening as forthcoming. Mark Hughes, despite a more-than-respectable season that propelled Fulham into Europe, walked out on the club amidst rumours of an offer from Aston Villa. Hughes has pushed hard to add doubt into those very rumours, but most have to believe that, even if it isn't an offer from Villa Park, something has been lined up for the Welshman.

It's not just Fulham fans that have taken the news badly and rest assured, with his latest comments on the resignation, if he enters a new job in the near future, he'll face an onslaught of curses and middle fingers; and not just from the fans of his now ex club. 

He's handled the situation with a lack of dignity, respect and class, but we can't deny the very good job he has done for us in his short but sweet stint.

Still though: we must move on and all that. So who's on the way in and are they any good?

Martin Jol: The favourite for the role, just as he was last year. The Ducthamn has been out of work since resigning last December and it's now common fact that he was the preferred choice of Mohammed Al Fayed when Hodgson left the Cottage to join Liverpool. In that respect, it would technically be a step up, but concerns would linger over his long term commitment to the club. He's an astute manager who deploys a system that flows with creativity and attacking potential, but he also possesses an enviable defensive record with his sides. With Hughes' reign providing similar fortunes, it could be favourable given that continuity breeds success. With regards to commitment, there are few jobs around that Jol could be considered for so he may be in it for the long haul, contrary to what most believe.

Martin O'Neill: Has been out of work for a year now and, despite a fantastic record, brings certain flaws. His style of play, whilst fluctuating, could be considered negative, but it'd be wholly unfair to tarnish him with such a huge brush and, at the end of the day, results are results. However, his lack of fondness for all European competition definitely negates the want of the fans who so loved our exploits in 2010. If he came in I'd expect a simple stance of 'Premier League comes first' and we'd be out in the early stages. He, of course, has his plus points such as indisputable experience. Would be a sound appointment, but not my first choice.

Carlo Ancelotti: An outsider by all accounts but plausible nonetheless. Fulham, being in very close geographical proximity to Stamford Bridge, would pose no problems for Ancelotti with regards to personal welfare, but he would of course consider it a huge step down. It's been widely accepted that the Italian would like to stay in the Premier League and his management style would suit our humble club. Whether he'd come though? Different story.

Lee Clark: A fans' favourite, but much like last season, probably not ready yet. We took a punt, many years ago now, on Chris Coleman and it worked to an extent. However, appointing an inexperienced manager after years of progressive work could be a catalyst for decline. Saying that, his brilliant work at Huddersfield, even when resulting in Play Off Final heartbreak, has been sensational. He understands football, but whether he understands Premier League football is the question Mohammed Al Fayed must answer. I'd take him, but I'd be a tad sceptical.

Chris Hughton: Definitely has proven his worth in the Premier League, but with his Newcastle dismissal, it would almost be like accepting the rags of a lesser team. It's not the case though and there could definitely be potential for improvement under Hughton's guidance. He's young, and alongside the intelligence of Ray Lewington, relegation wouldn't be a concern. Also, he's unlikely to consider us a stepping stone in the same way Hughes and Hodgson have. However, having a surname beginning with 'H' may mean he would like to depart bitterly some day.

Roberto Martinez: A long shot but he's been incredibly popular with the supporters, understandably. He possesses a likeable character which would be in-keeping with a humble Craven Cottage nature. He also provides fluent attacking play, but, unfortunately, forgets defensive duties in the process. We have too good a team to be worried about relegation under his management, but we have already attained such stability that it would be silly to undo that. To employ a manager who escaped relegation on the last day would be a bad choice in my eyes.

Steve McLaren: The last manager who has been heavily linked, and you'd probably be shocked to hear that I'd fully defend the move. The former England boss has great pedigree with a club our size and he took Middlesbrough to the final of the UEFA Cup a few years ago. Since he left, the club has suffered a great demise and it's no coincidence. Having spent time abroad since his England departure, he knows the game incredibly well and his European knowledge would come in very handy. Yet, he does come with his negative points, such as recent failures in Germany.

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