Tim Sherwood is the overwhelming favourite to succeed Harry Redknapp as manager of Queens Park Rangers after the 67-year-old quit Loftus Road just six hours after the club's disastrous transfer-deadline day.
Redknapp gave knee surgery as the official reason for his decision to leave, but QPR's failure to sign any players last month left the former Tottenham Hotspur manager facing a huge task to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
Les Ferdinand, the head of football operations, and coach Chris Ramsey have been put in temporary charge of the team ahead of the game against Southampton on Saturday, but Sherwood is expected to take the permanent post.
Sherwood's case was further strengthened yesterday evening, when it emerged former England manager Glenn Hoddle had left his role as a QPR coach. The pair have publicly criticised one another in the past. Joe Jordan has also left his -position as coach.
Many QPR players had already lost faith in Redknapp's approach following a dismal run of 11 successive league defeats away from home. Their fear that he had run out of ideas and energy was backed up by Redknapp's admission that his knee problems meant he could not devote all his time and attention to the job.
Redknapp informed the QPR chairman, Tony Fernandes, of his decision to quit at 5.30am yesterday, but did not manage to address his old players as an entire group.
Other than losing the faith of members of his current squad, Redknapp's authority at QPR had been challenged by the appointment of Ferdinand above him.
Agents dealing with the club over the past month tell similar stories of receiving enthusiastic telephone calls about players from Redknapp, only for Ferdinand to offer contradictory views in separate conversations.
QPR's muddled approach to transfers is summed up by the decision to take the forward Mauro Zarate on loan from West Ham United for the rest of the season and failed attempt to send him back to Upton Park less than a month later.
Loftus Road insiders insist that Zarate was solely Redknapp's signing and that the former manager was behind trying to trade him in for West Ham's Matt Jarvis on transfer deadline day. The Premier League intervened to rule that Zarate, who arrived at QPR badly lacking fitness, must stay with the club for the remainder of the campaign.
Redknapp attempted to charm the Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor into joining on loan, but Ferdinand could not close a deal. The Togo international and another target, Carlton Cole, both saw the writing on the wall at QPR.
On Ferdinand's appointment, Redknapp had said: "Head of football operations, it's a stupid title really, isn't it? I think he is just looking at the scouting and all that type of stuff." In reality, Ferdinand's brief has been much more hands on. The former striker has been negotiating over potential new players and is copied into all emails among the hierarchy of the club.
Ferdinand will have a big say in who the next full-time manager is and has remained close allies with Sherwood since the pair worked together at Spurs, along with Ramsey, last season.
Redknapp believes he can return to football next season, but insisted that his immediate priority was his knees, with him needing replacements on both the left and right side.
"I need immediate surgery on my knee which is going to stop me from doing my job in the coming weeks," Redknapp said. "It means I won't be able to be out on the training pitch every day, and if I can't give 100 per cent it's better for someone else to take over the reins."
Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: "I don't think I'm finished with football. When I've had the operations, I'll be looking for work again. I can't imagine my life without it. But right now, I've got to make my health the priority."
Redknapp claimed that Fernandes tried to talk him out of his decision. In a statement, the Malaysian businessman said: "I would like to thank Harry for everything he has done for QPR. We part on good terms and I wish him all the best for the future."
Sherwood, 45, has been out of work since Spurs sacked him at the end of last season. He gave his views about QPR's current situation at the Daily Telegraph Virgin Media event just hours before news of Redkanpp's resignation broke.
QPR are one place off the bottom of the Premier League, two points above Leicester City.
"They've been unlucky on a few occasions," Sherwood said. "Saturday [against Stoke City] was a good example. They should have got something out of the game. But not winning away from home is not great. They need to pick up some points there if they are going to stay in the league.
"And they need to come back to making Loftus Road a fortress. It was very difficult for teams to go there at the beginning of the season. The tables have turned now." The bigger teams are going to Loftus Road now. It's very difficult for them to spend money in January because people are out there just thinking, not only about Queens Park Rangers but all the teams at the bottom, that they are so desperate that we are just going to stick more and more money on the price tag of the players they want. The gamble obviously for the owners and chairmen of these clubs is do we speculate to accumulate or do we just stick.
"More and more of these teams at the bottom have decided a we've spent our money in the summer, we're sticking with what we've got and if it's not a success, we're not going out of business'."