The English Premier League season is reaching the business end, and it is at this time that some teams – safe from relegation but miles away from a tilt at Europe – appear ready to finish, take stock and start again. In the language of the commentator, “the players are already on the beach.”

Managers however, never have a moment to rest, and with Euro 2012 looming many will try to get key deals done before Poland and the Ukraine host the world’s most consistently excellent international tournament. That means no end of speculation, rumours and gossip over just what might happen in the summer – but something unusual seems to be on the cards.

Transfer business in the summer months is typically dominated by players, with relegated clubs plundered for talent, contract rebels engineering moves and all manner of intrigues rising and falling during the holiday months. Recent years have featured post-Bosman player power channelled into high drama, with interminable sagas starring wantaway performers and culminating in the frenetic finale of the transfer window countdown.

During this time, managers turn into quasi-political movers and shakers, some tactically manoeuvring to land a rising talent or big name, others acting instinctively on hunches and trusted advisers. It is all back room, off-stage plot-twisting, with fans and the media starved of football (over-)analysing every utterance, using every contact to break a surprise big-money move.

This year, however, managers could be playing a more central role than usual, as several top jobs are lying tantalisingly vacant. With few top-class alternatives unemployed or unsettled, the ground is set for tectonic shifts in the Premier League’s officer class.

The centre of speculation revolves around two of the hottest of hotseats, famous footballing names who always seem to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The England manager’s job, arguably the most notorious poisoned chalice, is available following Fabio Capello’s convenient resignation. The English FA have stated a desire to leave the recruitment process until the season has finished so as not to distract any potential applicants, but nevertheless the favourite, Harry Redknapp, has seen his Spurs side hit the buffers since Capello’s departure. Redknapp is still the overwhelming popular and critical choice for the job though, which then leaves a prestigious vacancy at a wealthy club with the makings of a championship-winning squad, and any coach aspiring to greatness would relish the opportunity to return the title to White Hart Lane after more than half a century.

Of course, there is the possibility that Redknapp may stay, choosing the promise of Spurs over the fractious and limited England side. If this is the case, then the FA’s desire for an English manager will still cause ructions in Premier League boardrooms. Should Redknapp decline, the FA would probably turn to Roy Hodgson, less so for recent successes with Fulham and West Bromwich Albion, more so due to his experiences with Inter and, most pertinently, Switzerland. The only other realistic alternative would be Alan Pardew, whose roaring success at Newcastle has revived a reputation dented unfairly after tumultuous stays at Charlton and Southampton. This unlikely eventuality would then open up another job at another historically huge but recently under-performing icon of English football, attracting as much interest from abroad as at home.

As is so often the case, a discussion of managers on the move winds its way inexorably towards Stamford Bridge. With the Andre Villas-Boas three-year plan ending predictably too soon, one of the premier positions lies vacant. Roberto Di Matteo’s caretaker role has been a relative success, but with a mixed record at West Brom the chances are a more experienced manager, ideally with European pedigree, will be brought in to spearhead another bid for European domination. Out of the bank of managers currently kicking their heels away from the sidelines, only Fabio Capello or Rafael Benitez really fulfil such picky criteria, and neither would be ideal choices – Benitez’ period as Liverpool manager has made him unpopular with the Stamford Bridge faithful, which counteracts his ability to get the best out of Fernando Torres, while Capello’s good relationship with John Terry is negated by his England failures and a reputation for functional football.

Chelsea’s choice could bring in yet another handsomely rewarded foreign master, but with many unavailable (and possibly a number unwilling to try their luck in this managerial graveyard) it may also lead to a long overdue crack at a big budget title challenge for one of the league’s most consistently excellent coaches.

David Moyes has done an incredible job in his decade at Everton, but with their financial woes known to all he is seen as susceptible in some quarters to the idea of a move. Despite his diehard loyalty, the likes of Chelsea (and Tottenham, should Redknapp leave for England) would undoubtedly consider this as a workable plan, especially considering the Scot’s ability to smooth situations with difficult older players – Terry may bark, but Duncan Ferguson bit – and should Roman Abramovich resist another urge to sack the minute the Blues wobble it could prove to be the beginning of that elusive dynasty he craves.

Moyes might not be the only manager moving from a historic club fallen on harder times. Alex McLeish is on thin ice at Villa Park following an uninspiring season of struggle, where a defensive mindset not only hampered the talents of Gabriel Agbonlahor, Darren Bent and company, but also failed to rectify longstanding weaknesses at set pieces. The natives have been restless all season, and with more reason than most uppity fans organising futile protests across the country.

Meanwhile at Anfield, Kenny Dalglish may have won the League Cup and will always be an immortal legend in the eyes of Liverpool fans, but he has hardly convinced doubters that he can lead the team back to the Champions League places, let alone a position to challenge the Manchester clubs at the top of the Premier League. These difficulties could lead to promotions for bright young things such as Norwich’s Paul Lambert or Brendan Rodgers, whose mightily impressive Swansea City side was assembled on a shoestring budget. These are men who have the talent and ambition to impose an attractive style and get results, the potential to develop into great managers of the future, and would be perfect for the likes of Aston Villa or Liverpool should they decide to opt for regime change to revitalise their squandering squads.

Should Lambert and/or Rodgers be lured away, a queue of able managers with upwardly-mobile intentions would eagerly look for the chance to work with the impressive groups of young players at both clubs. Should they stay, a number of current Premier League managers, from Steve Kean at Blackburn to Mark Hughes at QPR, look far from safe, and even if they succeed in staving off relegation they could find themselves out of work. The Championship has plenty of promising managers ready for a crack at the top division, and experienced fire-fighters such as Steve Bruce and Mick McCarthy lurk ominously over every wobbling incumbent.

As well as domestic concerns, political ructions at the pinnacle of European football could increase the merry-go-round drama further. It looks possible that Jose Mourinho will leave Real Madrid, even if he beats Barcelona to La Liga or the Champions League, or even both. But where could he go? Chelsea? Rapprochement may have happened with Abramovich, but it is unlikely. Spurs? Possibly, but the Portuguese would need more money in wages and transfer funds than any manager at White Hart Lane has ever had. Liverpool are in an even worse position, so that would be even less probable. Perhaps the only option would be Manchester City, should Roberto Mancini miss out on the Premier League crown – if that does happen, then Manchester United taking the title could be the most Pyrrhic of victories.

Should he indeed depart the Bernabeu, the mere presence of Mourinho in waiting would make most managers nervous, and any chairman with deep pockets would be tempted to secure his services before someone else steals a march. Come the end of season the players may be on the beach, but for managers it promises to be more intriguing than ever.