Plymouth Argyle are on the hunt for a new permanent manager for the first time since 2019. Yes, there was 2021, but on that occasion the ideal candidate was ready and waiting; Steven Schumacher was confirmed as the new permanent manager on a 3.5-year deal before Ryan Lowe had even signed his contract at Preston.

Managerial searches have been something of a rarity at Home Park under the stable leadership of first James Brent and then Simon Hallett. Since Brent’s Akkeron Group rescued Argyle from administration 12 years ago, there have been only five permanent managers and just two prolonged recruitment periods.

Sheridan aside, who took over from Carl Fletcher just five days after he was sacked, it took the club exactly two weeks to replace Sheridan with Derek Adams from a shortlist of six. Meanwhile, Ryan Lowe quickly identified as the favourite to take the scot’s place, however contract negotiations against the backdrop of the close season saw a month pass between the season’s close and his appointment.

Now, with the man that has a claim to be Argyle’s best-ever manager is departing for Stoke, Hallett has an unenviable task in finding the right replacement. Schumacher is the first and only manager in Argyle’s history to win more than half his games in charge, both in the league and in all competitions; he secured the most improbable of promotions – scooping up the most hotly contested League One title of all time alone the way; and, with a squad still full of League One-quality players and probably the smallest budget in the division, has established Argyle in the Championship with an exciting brand of football.

Hopefully a hefty compensation fee is being agreed for Schumacher and his coaching staff. Alan Nixon suggested “400-500k”, but that was his personal opinion. I know very little about managerial compensation, but given the wealth of Stoke City’s owner, the value of Schumacher and his coaches to Argyle, and the fact he has a further 3.5 years remaining on his contract, dictate to me that the compensation should be seven figures. After all, that’s what his departure could cost us.

Hallett will have an eye on the short- and long-term with this decision. He needs someone to keep Argyle in the division, and though our current position is a good one, things can change oh so quickly, as the shifting sands of the Championship table have demonstrated to a number of clubs this season already.

Yet, he will also want a manager who will be in post for 18 months at least. Someone who buys into the club’s vision, ethos, and five-year plan, who will provide the right environment for the players at the club to continue their development, who will fit with the ways of working ingrained within the club.

Already, Neil Warnock’s name is being thrown around, and that’s exactly the kind of short-term thinking I expect Hallett to jettison right off the bat. Does his more old-school, defensive, more direct approach suit the players at his disposal? No. Does the club want to spend what money is available in January on short-term players to suit that style but have no place in the squad long-term? No. Does the club want to delay hiring a new, permanent manager until the summer? I highly doubt it.

In a different time, with a different squad and ethos, Warnock would be the suitable appointment in the short-term. His methods still work – we saw that with Huddersfield – but that doesn’t mean he’s the right appointment for Argyle here and now. He’s a firefighter, but no alarm is going off inside Home Park.

Argyle will surely have a contingency plan in place. A list of criteria to satisfy, a price they’re willing to pay, and a desirable club they can pitch to ambitious managers. Since administration, Argyle haven’t got a single managerial appointment wrong. Since he became chairman, Hallett has made two fantastic appointments in first Lowe and then Schumacher.

Names are already flying around, and howlingly bad takes abound on social media. Nigel Pearson, for some reason, has been suggested by some. He ticks approximately none of the boxes, being neither a young, up-and-coming manager as Hallett prefers, nor does he promote a progressive, attacking brand of football. Does he have a track record of developing young players? The only box he really ticks is that he’s not an especially abrasive manager, though he has had his moments with the media.

At the other end of the scale, Leighton Baines’ name has also cropped up thanks to a Twitter rumour. He’s Everton’s current under 18’s manager, which immediately sets off a big red alarm to me: for crying out loud, do we have any other contacts at any other clubs? The guy’s 18 months into his role with little other relevant experience, and the team’s record this season is played ten, won one. NEXT.

In fact, I do hope we don’t restrict ourselves exclusively to up and coming managers, as that rules out my current favourite for the job: Tony Mowbray. A manager with excellent Championship pedigree, well-liked at his previous clubs, a superb record of developing young players at Sunderland, Blackburn and Middlesbrough, combined with range of contacts that have helped him secure loans for promising Premier League youngsters.

To my eyes, he is the perfect manager to stabilise the club in the Championship, and if he is interested, he should be the club’s priority. I don’t think there’s another candidate as suited to the club as he is.

Failing that, I’d be looking at Nathan Jones. Abrasive personality aside, which is the only serious mark against him as a candidate, at Luton he demonstrated his ability establish a League One side at this level and push on. He’s utilised a range of attacking philosophies in his career, from a more possession-focused one in the lower leagues to one last season that focused on direct play combined with pace and power.

He very nearly ended up with the Argyle job back when he lost out to Derek Adams in 2015 and has since established himself as a Championship-quality manager. And, of course, the idea of a Nathan Jones revenge tour sounds appealing with trips to Southampton and Stoke still to come for Argyle this season.

John Eustace is an interesting one. He’s clearly been well thought of, given he was apparently second choice for the Stoke job and has been linked with other opportunities since he was harshly removed as Birmingham City manager. Yet, he has very little experience in management and the main reason he was sacked was because the club’s owners wished to move away from his pragmatic style of play, which doesn’t fit with the brand of football that Argyle are aiming for.

How pragmatic that style was, and whether the quality of players at his disposal were preventing a more progressive approach, is an open question that he would presumably have to speak to at interview.

To me, though, Eustace is a fashionable choice: unfairly sacked with the club in a play-off position, with Rooney’s subsequent failings only serving to enhance this reputation. Had he lasted for another two months, would he had maintained it? Or was he just enjoying a good start, like Preston were at that point. The fact that he remains out of work despite so many other clubs changing manager says to me that there are better options.

There’s also Michael Duff, who’s aggressive pressing approach and attacking style makes him worthy of an interview, though I’m concerned his footballing philosophy is too reliant on a big, powerful team, which we don’t have – nor did Swansea.

This is without touching on those currently in work. The most impressive of those currently is John Mousinho, who has done an excellent at Portsmouth and, though it would be tough to prise him away, their fans are deluding themselves if they think it can’t be done. He ticks every box thus far, but how much compensation would be required?

What Mousinho does remind us is that, just like Schumacher, there are excellent young coaches not yet in management waiting for their first opportunity. Mousinho seemed like a radical appointment at the time, having not even retired from football as a player-coach at Oxford, and look at him now.

We could well end up with a totally random name in this managerial hunt, someone we’ve never heard of, with no management experience. A risk on paper. But, after two successful managerial appointments under Hallett, I expect no less of the third: someone to last the distance, to keep us in the Championship, to develop this promising squad, to match the club’s ethos, to deliver entertaining football.