Ex-Leeds United & Barnsley manager tipped for role with potential Championship rivals next season

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Leeds United will hope to not be playing Plymouth Argyle next season but another year in the Championship could seem them up against a former manager.

Former Leeds United manager Paul Heckingbottom is among the bookies’ favourites to take over at Plymouth Argyle, who have been without a permanent boss for over a month.

Plymouth sacked Ian Foster in April after just three months in charge, following a dismal run of one win in 11 Championship matches. That form left the club in serious danger of relegation but director of football Neil Dewsnip and first-team coach Kevin Nancekivell took temporary charge and guided them to safety.

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After securing another season of Championship football in Devon, Plymouth chiefs will now prioritise appointing a permanent manager and Heckingbottom looks to be in serious contention. The former Leeds and Sheffield United boss is currently priced at 4/1 by Betvictor (odds correct at the time of writing), which places him alongside Bayern Munich assistant Anthony Barry.

Plymouth beat Hull City 1-0 on the final day and the opposition manager on that day, Liam Rosenior, is the favourite at 3/1. Rosenior’s Tigers missed out on the play-offs by three points and he was surprisingly sacked earlier this month, despite being on the three-man shortlist for the Championship’s Manager of the Season award alongside Daniel Farke and eventual winner Kieran McKenna.

Chesterfield boss Paul Cook is fourth on the list at 6/1, with a number of household names such as Gareth Ainsworth, Alex Neil, Grant McCann and Tony Mowbray all priced below 20/1. Plymouth will be hoping to confirm an appointment before the summer transfer window opens to give themselves time to plan ahead of another tough season in the Championship.

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Heckingbottom may prove an easier appointment than some of the above names, given he is currently out of work. The Barnsley-born coach was sacked by Sheffield United in December after losing 5-0 against Burnley. The Blades were rooted to the bottom of the table at that point but replacement Chris Wilder has been unable to turn fortunes around and Bramall Lane will host Championship football next season.

The 46-year-old did guide the Blades back into the Premier League last season, having finished second behind Burnley. He remains a well-regarded coach at Championship level and would be a solid appointment for Plymouth.

Heckingbottom took charge of Leeds in February 2018, following the exit of Thomas Christiansen. He penned an 18-month deal at Elland Road but after overseeing another underwhelming mid-table finish, he was sacked the following summer and replaced by Marcelo Bielsa.

Plymouth are one of three Championship sides looking for a new manager, alongside Hull City and Sunderland. Farke and Leeds will hope to be facing none of them but any hope of promotion now rests on a first ever play-off win.

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Leeds host Norwich City in the semi-final second-leg on Thursday, having drawn 0-0 at Carrow Road on Sunday. The winner will meet one of Southampton or West Bromwich Albion in the play-off final on Sunday, May 26.