Rochdale have sacked manager Keith Hill after an awful run of recent form.
Hill had been in charge of Dale for six years and it was his second spell at the club, having initially left to join Barnsley before returning to Spotland 18 months later. But he has been struggling in recent weeks, with the club winning one of their last 11 and losing nine which has ultimately led to him losing his job.
Having achieved two of the three promotions in the clubs history he will go down as a legend with the club, but it looks to be a case of he had taken them as far as he could. Brian Barry Murphy and Tony Ellis have been placed in temporary charge whilst the club searches for a new permanent manager.
An official club statement said that it had been the "most difficult position the board has had to make" but that they felt that a "new direction was needed."
Hill leaves Rochdale in the League One relegation zone, five points adrift of safety so whoever replaces him will have a tough job on their hands. Defensively they have been all over the place, shipping a league high 74 goals in just 35 matches.
Paul Hurst favourite to take over at Rochdale
Bookmakers have already opened a market on who will be the next Rochdale manager, and it is Paul Hurst who is currently the slight favourite. The 44-year-old was sacked by Championship outfit Ipswich Town earlier in the season, but has been successful in recent times in League One. He took Shrewsbury Town to the play-off final last season against all the odds, and they were even in contention for automatic promotion for the majority of the season.
Whether he would be willing to take over a club in a relegation scrap in the third tier given his recent success remains to be seen, he may well prefer to wait until the summer when more appealing jobs are likely to be available. That said his odds to take over at Rochdale are currently 5/1 with Sky Bet who clearly feel that there is a chance he will take over at Spotland.
Who else is in contention?
The betting appears to be wide open in the early stages of the Rochdale managerial position becoming vacant, with several names other than Hurst at the top of the market. Steve Evans is currently the second favourite for the job, with odds of 6/1 with BetVictor. Evans is a proven League One manager having guided Rotherham United to promotion in 2014 as well as remaining firmly within the promotion mix with Peterborough United earlier this season before being dismissed after a few poor results. As with Hurst though, it seems like a relegation dogfight would be a step in the wrong direction for him at the moment.
There are then three managers all priced at 8/1 with BetVictor, the first of which is former Bristol Rovers manager Darrell Clarke. He did an extremely good job with the Gas, earning back-t0-back promotions from the National League into League One between 2014 and 2016. He consolidated their place in the third tier too, before leaving the club by mutual consent in December with a 104 wins from 246 matches in charge. He is a highly rated young manager who was even courted by Leeds United a few years ago, if Rochdale could get him it would be a coup.
Kevin Nolan is the second manager with odds of 8/1, and it may be a job that does appeal to the Liverpudlian. He has been out of work since being dismissed by Notts County earlier this season, but having only ever managed at League Two level he may relish the chance to step up a league - even if it is just for a few months. Up until this season he had done a good job at Meadow Lane, guiding them into the play-offs last season before going down to Coventry City.
Finally, Brian Barry Murphy is also in the frame according to bookmakers and is also 8/1 to get the job. As mentioned he is in caretaker charge and if he can get some positive results in the near future then he will do his chances the world of good. This will be his first experience in first team management which could work against him, but there is no doubting it is a major opportunity for the 40-year-old.
Full next Rochdale manager odds:
(All odds from BetVictor)
- Paul Hurst - 5/1
- Steve Evans - 6/1
- Darrell Clarke - 8/1
- Kevin Nolan - 8/1
- Brian Barry Murphy - 8/1
- Jim Bentley - 12/1
- Lee Clark - 12/1
- Tony Ellis - 12/1
- Jim Gannon - 14/1
- Russell Slade - 14/1