WITH A-League jobs in such short supply there will be a Melbourne Cup field of local and overseas candidates for the soon-to-be-vacant Melbourne Heart coaching position.
The best-placed local candidate would be assistant Ante Milicic, an ex-Socceroo striker with extensive club experience domestically and in Europe. Milicic has been an assistant at Heart for two years and has also worked in the under-age national team set-ups.
But the job would undoubtedly prove attractive to a foreigner, with Heart having a strong, young playing list and an impressive home venue in AAMI Park.
Two of the six A-League titles have been won by teams coached by foreigners: German Pierre Littbarski (Sydney 2005-06) and Czech Vitezslav Lavicka (Sydney 2009-10).
John van 't Schip's replacement will have to be someone happy to work within the club's existing structure, in which football operations manager John Didulica plays a crucial role.
He will need to be interested in developing younger players and giving them first-team opportunities - something Heart holds as a core part of its brand.
Given the competitive nature of the Melbourne sporting market place, whoever takes over will have to become the face of the club as it seeks to build on the reputation it has established in its first two years.
Assuming Heart does not look to promote from within, Central Coast Mariners' boss Graham Arnold is likely to loom large on the radar. Arnold has led the Mariners to the top of the table this season.
He has extensive experience and has been head coach and an assistant with the Socceroos at two World Cups and an Asian Cup. He has already been linked with Sydney and Adelaide this season, and the cash-strapped Mariners might struggle to keep him.
Branko Culina, Frank Farina and Aurelio Vidmar are other coaches with A-League experience who usually get named whenever a vacancy occurs. Culina and Farina are out of work at the moment while Vidmar, who took Adelaide to an Asian Champions League final, is seeking to qualify the Olyroos for the London Olympics and is working alongside Holger Osieck with the national team. Should the Olyroos not make it, Vidmar could be the sort of coach Heart would be interested in.
There are also a number of former internationals working in the development system at the moment, such as former Socceroo skipper Paul Okon, who is Vidmar's assistant with the Olyroos. Ex-Socceroo Tony Popovic has done well in England as assistant at Crystal Palace.
Should Heart want to appoint an experienced man to oversee the development of Milicic and youth team boss John Aloisi there are a number of potential candidates.
Stuart Munro has been part of Perth Glory's renaissance as assistant to Ian Ferguson and his family is in Melbourne.
Melbourne Victory said it had over 70 overseas applicants for its vacant coaching position after it dumped Ernie Merrick at the end of last season.