After months of speculation, Jose Mourinho has been sacked by Manchester United. While the Special One was touted to bring the glory years back to Manchester, his time was nothing short of tumultuous and divisive, with Ole Gunnar Solskjae operating as a caretaker Manager until the end of the season. Now that Jose is gone, many managers have been tipped to take the helm of the Red Devils. Here are some of the top candidates for the job.
The odds-on favourite to take over, a lot of rumours have been placed with what Zidane will be doing after he left Real Madrid at the end of last season, following a third successive European triumph. Earlier this season, the media was swirling with claims that Mourinho was going to be sacked and Zidane was to be installed immediately after. Clearly that wasn’t the case, but it doesn’t stop the fact that Zidane is a lot of people’s first choice to be the man to take over at Manchester United.
Having only spent three seasons in management, all with Real Madrid, he managed to win the UEFA Champions League in each of those three seasons, coupled with a league trophy as well. His Madrid played some stylish football, with Zidane’s well-documented man management seeing him bring the best out of his squad and handle the massive egos and personalities that populated the Spanish capital, such as Cristiano Ronaldo. Zidane is also one of the greatest footballers of all time, with a legendary playing career, so he will command that respect and admiration that a manager of such a big club deserves, and the French connection with a star like Paul Pogba isn’t too bad either.
However, Zidane does still have some questions that need to be raised. He has only ever coached a star-studded Real Madrid side, with some of the world’s best players populating each area of the field. It was often perceived that he wasn’t a master tactician, but just knew how to tame tempers and control players, making them play well. Zidane hasn’t yet shown what he can do with a rebuilding squad in this sort of situation. Also, he still hasn’t yet to learn English, so he has about six months to practice should he get the job. It will be a huge gamble to bring Zizou to Old Trafford.
Logistically speaking, Mauricio Pochettino would be the toughest to bring to Manchester. Having only just signed a contract extension with Tottenham earlier in the year, it would take an arm and a leg to have him switch over to United. But what a move it would be.
In his time at Tottenham, Pochettino has been at the forefront of their rise as title challengers and regulars in the UEFA Champions League, with the club’s best period in the Premier League coming under his leadership. Harry Kane, Dele Alli and others have seen their star rise under the Argentinian, as Totteham are going from strength to strength. Poch has reached 100 wins as manager of Tottenham, reaching the total faster than Arsene Wenger did for Arsenal, impressive stuff.
Although, he is yet to win a trophy with Tottenham. For all the beautiful football the Spurs play, for all of how good of a man Mauricio Pochettino is, he has yet to reach over that hump, and it may be detrimental to United to sign a manager that hasn’t won a trophy and could be seen by some as a “bottler”. Tottenham will also do everything to hang onto their man, and will not let him go easily, if at all. Especially with an ever improving squad and a newly built stadium. Should Tottenham set a price for Pochettino, whatever it is, United would pay it if they firmly believe Pochettino is their man. It is unlikely, but if it happens, could see a return to the energetic style we all saw under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Not as highly touted as the other two, but still well-regarded nonetheless. Blanc had one of the most distinguished careers for French defenders, including being a part of the World Cup winning squad in 1998, their UEFA Euro winning team in 2000, and winning the Premier League with United in 2003.
Blanc knows the club inside and out and is seen as a cult hero by the United faithful, potentially bringing needed stability and calm to a heated dressing room. Like Zidane, there is also that French connection, which cannot be understated, would do well to get the best out of Paul Pogba, clearly United’s best outfield player. As a manager he has won multiple Ligue 1 titles with PSG and Bordeux, on top of domestic cups in France. He has led the French national team, adding to his experience with big stars.
Blanc hasn’t been managing since leaving PSG in 2016, so it may be a risk bringing in someone after three years of no work, but it doesn’t take away from Blanc’s experience and pedigree as a manager and as someone who knows the club very well. Not the most popular choice by any means, but perhaps a safe bet should United go down this route.
A very left-field choice, but Conte has been out of a job since his sacking by Chelsea at the end of last season following their FA Cup win. The parallels are almost too similar. Conte took over at Chelsea in 2016, taking on a permanent role the season after Jose Mourinho was sacked halfway through the season prior in difficult circumstances.
Conte stabilised Chelsea and romped to the league title in 2017 with 93 points and a then-record 30 wins across the season. Chelsea also didn’t play in the Champions League that season, a likely scenario for United come next season. The Italian would be able to get the best out of Paul Pogba and coach a defence that is leaky at best, and a complete void at worst, United’s biggest weakness.
One issue does stand out, he is a defensive manager too. Having already put up with Mourinho’s pragmatism, Conte is more of the same, preferring robust, shut out performances with his players, as opposed to the free-flowing style that United fans have been craving all this time. It would be more of the same, especially as much as been said of how much freer Chelsea are now under Maurizio Sarri, than Antonio Conte. Conte has also been linked with a move back to Italy, either at a club such as AC Milan, or back with the national team to return them to its former glory. Highly unlikely at this stage, but this is still a world class manager that’s readily available, United would be at least entertaining the idea.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:
The baby-faced assassin, hero in Barcelona and the current caretaker of Manchester United, Solksjaer has only just been given the reins to steady the ship until the end of the season. One of the most beloved heroes in Manchester United folklore, with his ability to be brought on as a super-sub and score crucial goal after crucial goal, like his famous winner in the UEFA Champions League Final in 1999, taking United to a historic treble.
His managerial pedigree isn’t as illustrious as the others, having only accepted a caretaker position, based on his love and knowledge for the ‘United Way’, and as he is someone whom the fans would instantly support and get behind. But he could easily do a good job. If in the next six months he plays great football, United win games, do decent enough in Europe and somehow scrape a top four spot, after everything that has happened this season that could be seen as a miracle job and he could easily be given a full-time role.
If this is the case, he would be trusted to spend big next in the next summer transfer window, and bring in the players that United desperately need, such as central defenders. With a rejuvenated and rebuilt squad, and with a great season behind him, Solskjaer could be the man for the job.