Alan Curbishley and Phil Brown have emerged as a surprise partnership ready to apply for the managerial vacancy as Bolton Wanderers.
The Lancashire club sacked Owen Coyle yesterday after two-and-a-half years at the Reebok Stadium with his side lingering above the relegation zone in the Championship.
Coyle, below, managed just three wins from the opening 10 games of the season, with Bolton now only three points clear of the bottom three. The club have just won 14 of their last 54 league matches, a main contributory factor in their dropping out of the Premier League last season following an 11-year stay.
Curbishley is ready to return to management after four years out and could do so alongside former Bolton favourite Brown, who spent five years as a player at the club and worked as assistant under Sam Allardyce and Colin Todd.
Mick McCarthy is the current frontrunner, with Roy Keane and Billy Davies not too far behind. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who won the Norwegian League with Molde last season, is another contender.
The verdict on Coyle's reign is a damning one. Heralded as the next Scottish manager to make a major impact in England while at Burnley, Coyle chose to leave the club for Bolton in acrimonious circumstances in January 2010.
The former Burnley chairman Barry Kilby labelled Coyle's choice a "sidewards move" at the time, and so it proved. A cursory glance at the league table will make pleasing reading for Clarets supporters, who have never forgiven him for leaving the club with little to no chance of retaining their Premier League status.
Bolton's chairman, Phil Gartside, said: "Owen poured his heart and soul into the job, both on and off the pitch, and he led our club with great dignity during some very challenging times.
"It is the right time for a change. We set a target at the beginning of the season and want to get back on track."
Bolton have won just 14 of their last 54 league games, a main factor in dropping out of the top flight after 11 years