Essendon's search for a new coach has officially begun following the sacking of Ben Rutten on Sunday afternoon, with the former Bombers coach having spent just two seasons in the top job at Tullamarine.

Rutten's exit continues what has been a tumultuous decade for the club, with the Bombers now seeking an experienced coach to help put a stop to their graceless fall down the ladder.

Alastair Clarkson has now committed to North Melbourne, while the Giants are set to announce their new coach in the coming days, leaving Essendon, and those conducting an external review into the club, a difficult task to find their next coach.

With time not on their side to find a suitable candidate prior to the trade and draft period, Zero Hanger has had a look at who the most likely candidates are for the top job.

2. James Hird

The former Essendon coach has been floated as a potential contender to return to Tullamarine, despite his exit back in 2015 due to the infamous supplements saga.

Hird has since worked as a part-time assistant coach at GWS throughout 2022, adding additional experience to his resume alongside four years as a senior coach.

The internal desire to see Hird return to the Bombers is reportedly split, with some on the board keen to reinstate the former coach, while some are wary of returning to the past.

While Hird does fit the experienced coach bill, his absence from the game for several years may hinder his chances at regaining the top job, while the 49-year-old is yet to confirm any interest in returning to Windy Hill.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 15: James Hird, coach of the Essendon Bombers walks through Bombers supporters in the crowd as heads to speak to his players at three quarter time during the round 20 AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the Adelaide Crows at Etihad Stadium on August 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)