Steven Gerrard and Roberto Martinez are on Aston Villa’s shortlist of possible replacements for Dean Smith.
Smith was relieved of his duties at Villa Park after five successive defeats in the Premier League, a poor run which culminated in the 1-0 defeat to Southampton.
Villa are expected to speak to at least five or six managers – or their representatives – as they narrow down their search.
Both Gerrard and Martinez are in work, at Rangers and Belgium respectively, and so Villa know they would have to pay compensation.
Martinez is open to the possibility of a move back to the Premier League, having been with Belgium since 2016, during which time he has taken them to No 1 in the FIFA rankings.
Gerrard, meanwhile, is a close friend of Villa CEO Christian Purslow from when the latter was managing director at Liverpool.
Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand is also on the list of possible names – he is well known by Villa sporting director Johan Lange. Hjulmand is seen as an outside option at this stage.
Villa’s bosses want a new head coach in position in time for the game against Brighton a week on Saturday, but will take their time to assess their options now there is an international break.
The next appointment is seen as a key one, as Villa try to push on to the next level and match the ambitions of their owners.
Jamie Carragher says joining Aston Villa would be a “great move” for Rangers boss Steven Gerrard – but ideally he would win a second league title in Scotland first.
Carragher said: “I think Aston Villa as a club would be a great move for Steven Gerrard. But the situation he finds himself in right now is that he took the title away from Celtic last season, and he’s in a great position to win it again. I think in a perfect world you’d want to stay at Rangers to the end of the season and come away from there with two titles.
“I mean, this is not something coming from Steven Gerrard but, ‘I look I’ve been in a job for four years in the Scottish Premiership’, and I think sooner or later there’s going to be a great chance Steven Gerrard is going to come to the Premier League. But for me, it’s a difficult one.
“If he got offered the Aston Villa job, I don’t think there’d be many jobs in the Premier League which he would get offered better than that. People talk about Liverpool, and that might be another two or three years with Jurgen Klopp but you’re not going to get any jobs better, so it would be a decision for him.
“But, in a perfect world, I think Steven Gerrard wants to come away from Rangers with another couple of trophies.”
Sky Sports’ Gerard Brand:
Aston Villa were ruthless in the summer transfer window in attempting to replace Jack Grealish, spending nearly £100m on Emi Buendia, Danny Ings and Leon Bailey. They have shown a similar ruthless edge in sacking Dean Smith after five straight defeats.
Under owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris and chief executive Christian Purslow, it is clear backwards steps will not be tolerated.
On top of the five defeats, Villa’s performances were concerning. In those 450 minutes, they played well for an accumulative hour, but 40 points gained from their last 36 games will be the real reason for Smith’s sacking.
There are plenty of mitigating factors, but Smith cannot escape blame for all.
November 20: Brighton (H)
November 27: Crystal Palace (A)
December 1: Man City (H)
December 5: Leicester (H) – live on Sky Sports Premier League
December 11: Liverpool (A)
December 14: Norwich (A)