Aston Villa are speaking to Ruben Amorim, the Sporting Lisbon coach, about succeeding Steven Gerrard after also making an ambitious approach to Mauricio Pochettino.
Villa targeted former Tottenham Hotspur manager Pochettino to replace Gerrard and made him a big offer to join the Midlands club.
But sources close to the Argentine believe he will wait for a better opportunity, which has prompted Villa to turn to Amorim, who has impressed in Portugal with Sporting. Amorim is open to listening to what the club has to say, although it is not certain that he would accept an offer at this stage. He has a big buy-out clause in his contract but that is unlikely to put off Villa, as they are desperate to land a new manager who will excite supporters.
Thomas Tuchel, another potential target, ruled himself out of the running, while Brentford hope Thomas Frank will sign a new contract with the London club. Unai Emery, the former Arsenal manager, is another name on Villa’s list but the Spaniard is happy at Villarreal and had already turned down Newcastle United last season.
It is understood that Villa would be prepared to give Pochettino £100 million (€114m) to spend on transfers across January and next summer’s transfer windows, together with a salary of about £10m a year.
But, having spent the past six seasons of his management career in the Champions League with Tottenham and Paris St-Germain, Pochettino is reluctant to take on what could prove to be a Premier League relegation battle.
After sacking Gerrard late on Thursday night, Villa confirmed yesterday that he had been followed out of the club by his entire backroom staff.
Coach Aaron Danks is set to take charge of the team for the game against Brentford today.
Christian Purslow, the Villa chief executive, said: “The board has come to this decision following a full evaluation of results and performances over the calendar year.”
A club statement read: “Aston Villa can confirm Gary McAllister, Neil Critchley, Tom Culshaw, Jordan Milsom and Scott Mason have all left the club following the departure of head coach Steven Gerrard.”
The 3-0 defeat at Fulham left Villa one place above the relegation zone, ahead of Wolves Wanderers only on goal difference.
Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp has backed Gerrard to bounce back from the disappointment of being sacked.
The Liverpool manager disclosed he had spoken to the Anfield legend yesterday morning and is certain Gerrard will return to management at some point.
“I’m very sure he will come back from that. We had a little exchange this morning,” Klopp said.
“Obviously it is not cool for him but I don’t think we need to worry about Stevie. He knows the game long enough and he knows these kind of things can happen.
“It is all about how you respond and we all know Stevie. He always came back.”