Former Real Madrid start in “pole” position to replace Zidane


ST Mirren find themselves in the unprecedented position of being in a tug of war with Real Madrid after Champions League winner Guti was revealed to have shown an interest in the managerial vacancy at New St Mirren Park.

Representatives of the former Spain international playmaker – whose full name is Jose Maria Gutierrez Hernandez – have been in touch with the Paisley side about the prospect of replacing Jack Ross, a rather surprising turn of events considering the Real Madrid youth coach is also ranked one of the frontrunners to replace Zinedine Zidane after the Frenchman’s shock decision to resign in the wake of Champions League victory. Zidane was promoted from within and Guti could do likewise if the Madrid giants choose to go down that route.

However long it takes Real Madrid to fill their post – Mauricio Pochettino, who happened to be in Spain yesterday, is thought to be the club’s top target – St Mirren are hopeful of filling their vacancy within the next seven days, with front runners including ex-Ross County manager Jim McIntyre and former Hearts and MK Dons manager Robbie Neilson. Alan Stubbs, who won the Scottish Cup with Hibs before a short-lived spell at Rotherham, is also under consideration, alongside former Wigan manager and Coleraine manager Oran Kearney. The Northern Irishman who has transformed Coleraine into Irish Cup winners and league title challengers, is also Kenny Shiels’ son in law.

As outlandish as the idea of a move for Guti sounds, it should be pointed out that the Paisley side do at least have some form for attracting exotic Spanish signings to the club. Victor Munoz, a team-mate of Steve Archibald’s from Barcelona – with whom he won both La Liga and the Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup – played 18 times for the club back in 1991, and at one stage was linked with the manager’s post himself.


Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho was a transfer target back in 2001 when he had just agreed a pre-contract with Paris St Germain from Gremio and a loan deal under Tom Hendrie might have been a possiblity, while the club even had the extravagant talents of Riyad Mahrez at the club on a trial basis for a few weeks long before he wrote himself into the history books by delivering a Premier League title for Leicester City.

As for Pochettino, currently promoting his book ‘A Brave New World’, the Tottenham Hotspur manager kept the door open to a potential switch to Madrid, but said he would not be forcing a move through. Having only recently signed a five-year contract extension, Spurs move into a new 62,000-seater stadium at the start of next season. It would seem unlikely that chairman Daniel Levy would let his prize asset go before then.

“I’m very happy at Tottenham,” said Pochettino. “It would be disrespectful to Daniel [for me to force a move]. I’ve just renewed with Tottenham and I am happy. I’m committed to Spurs, still have a long contract with them that I just signed.” Other names linked with the Real Madrid post include Arsene Wenger, Antonio Conti and Massimiliano Allegri.