Leicester in the midst of a wild-Guus chase for new boss

LONDON • Leicester City are hopeful of persuading Guus Hiddink to take over from Claudio Ranieri until the end of the season, although the Dutchman is understood to be reluctant to take on the role at such short notice.

This could mean that the Premier League champions could turn to caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare on a permanent basis.

Representatives of Hiddink, who has been out of work since leaving his second spell as Chelsea's interim manager last May, are believed to have been approached over the weekend by Leicester officials to gauge whether the 70-year-old would be interested in succeeding Ranieri after the Italian was sacked last week.

However, having indicated several times during his second spell at Stamford Bridge that he was intent on retiring after nearly three decades in football management, it remains to be seen whether he can be persuaded to change his mind.

The Dutchman developed a reputation as a football firefighter at Chelsea, where he demonstrated his skill at re-energising disillusioned players. His second spell at Stamford Bridge ended with him leading the club from the threat of relegation to mid-table last season.

Nigel Pearson, who led Leicester to safety in the 2014-15 season with seven victories from their final nine matches, has instead emerged as the bookmakers' favourite.

However, his return to the King Power Stadium remains unlikely, given the circumstances of his departure because of "fundamental differences in perspective" with the club's Thai owners.

David Wagner, the Huddersfield Town manager, and former Portugal international Sergio Conceicao - currently managing French side Nantes - are both believed to have turned down the opportunity to discuss the vacancy.

Martin O'Neill, who led Leicester to two League Cups, has insisted he is not interested in being considered for a return given his commitments with the Republic of Ireland.

On Sunday, Marc Albrighton became the latest Leicester player to distance himself from reports that he played a role in Ranieri's departure, insisting he is "very angry and upset" over the speculation.

"I had a good relationship with the manager and total respect for what he achieved for the club," the player said. "I spoke with him after he left and thanked him personally for everything he did for me."

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2017, with the headline 'Leicester in the midst of a wild-Guus chase for new boss'. Print Edition | Subscribe