Next Middlesbrough manager: Five contenders

Sports Mole casts its eye over five early contenders for the now-vacant Middlesbrough job following the sacking of Tony Mowbray.

Tony Mowbray's reign at Middlesbrough came to an end last night, with Saturday's 3-2 defeat to lowly Barnsley the final straw for Steve Gibson and the Boro board.

The North-East club sit 16th in the Championship after 12 games and are now under the temporary charge of Mowbray's assistant Mark Venus, who has remained at the club.

Venus could well be given the permanent position but a club of Boro's stature are likely to appoint a name with more management experience.

Here, Sports Mole casts its eye over five early names being linked with the role.


Stoke City Manager Tony Pulis prior to kick-off during the match against Southampton on May 19, 2013© Getty Images
1. Tony Pulis
Pulis's seven-year stint in charge of Stoke City ended earlier this year after the 55-year-old had guided the Potters into the top flight and made them into an established Premier League club. His style of play is known for its directness and lack of creativity but he could be just the sort of person to steer Boro away from the drop zone in the Championship. The clear early favourite with the bookmakers.

Odds: 2/1


Derby manager Nigel Clough on the touchline during the match against Blackburn on August 4, 2013© Getty Images
2. Nigel Clough
Clough lost his job at Derby County at the end of last month in what was viewed by many as an unfair sacking. The 47-year-old is said to be keen to get back into management quickly and has been heavily linked with the vacant position at League One club Sheffield United. If Clough doesn't take charge of the Blades, then he is likely to be interested if approached for the Boro job.

Odds: 8/1


Sunderland's Martin O'Neill prior to kick off in the match against Norwich on March 17, 2013© Getty Images
3. Martin O'Neill
Considered a shoo-in by many for the Republic of Ireland job when Giovanni Trapattoni left the post, O'Neill has now been overtaken by Mick McCarthy as favourite to replace the Italian. If McCarthy is selected by the FAI for a second time then O'Neill could well be tempted by the Boro job, although his Premier League pedigree suggests that he could aim for a top-flight club if another boss is sacked in the not-too-distant future.

Odds: 9/1


Bradford City assistant manager Colin Cooper looks on prior to the npower League Two match between Bradford City and Northampton Town at The Coral Windows Stadium on March 19, 2011© Getty Images
4. Colin Cooper
Current Hartlepool manager Cooper may not have as much managerial experience as the names around him here but his 15-year spell as a Boro player over two stints would make him a popular choice with some. The 46-year-old also had a brief time as caretaker boss of Boro in 2009 and was unbeaten in two games, winning one and drawing the other.

Odds: 20/1


Graeme Souness breaking into a rare grin on May 4, 2005© Getty Images
5. Graeme Souness
TV pundit Souness would certainly be viewed as a wildcard appointment as he has been out of the management game since early 2006 when he was sacked as Newcastle manager. Again, the 60-year-old's 200-odd appearances for Boro in the '70s would make him a popular choice but it would take a lot to tempt him back into management.

Odds: 20/1


Barnsley's David Flitcroft on the touchline during the match against Wigan on August 3, 2013
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3Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd139041811727
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12Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest136071721-418
13Middlesbrough134541512317
14Hull City134452420416
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16Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds134451616016
17Queens Park RangersQPR133641617-115
18Brentford132741718-113
19Barnsley123361518-312
20Reading123361114-312
21Birmingham CityBirmingham13328821-1311
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23Sunderland131661625-99
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