Sir Alex Ferguson left big shoes to fill and Manchester United are still trying to do just that. David Moyes didn’t last a season, Van Gaal found out he was being sacked on the day he won the FA Cup when Jose Mourinho announced he’d got the job. And frankly, the Portuguese spent three years boring the pants off everyone.
United, it’s fair to say, are still looking to find their ‘Magic Man’ and are in no rush to do so before the end of this season.
We look at the contenders for one of club football’s top jobs.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
The current incumbent, albeit as interim manager. Solskjaer is on course for a top-four finish and a FA Cup triumph.
Known as ‘The Baby-Faced Assassin’ as a player, the Norwegian got off to a flyer as United boss with a 5 – 1 win at Cardiff City. It set the side hurtling off on a nine-game winning streak which ended with the fortuitous 2 – 2 draw at home to Burnley.
The Red Devils remain unbeaten in domestic football (W11, D1) but a warning sign came in the Champions League. United were comprehensively outplayed by Paris St-Germain at Old Trafford, despite the visitors being without Cavani and Neymar Jr., as well as fielding a patently unfit Marco Verratti.
United are fourth but face Liverpool this weekend with a trip to Arsenal and the Mancunian derby still to come. While it’s all looking good for Solskjaer at present, things could easily turn sour if they lose at Wolves in the FA Cup and finish outside the top four.
Until then, however, it’s no surprise to see him clear of the field at 2/5 with Betfair.
The Tottenham boss has plenty of admirers in the English media and is highly thought of among the United hierarchy. While Solskjaer will be a ‘free’ signing, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is likely to demand an extortionate fee for the Argentinean coach.
With focus turning to homegrown players, Pochettino’s record of bringing through young English players at White Hart Lane/Wembley isn’t unnoticed nor is his ability to make Tottenham permanent members of the Premier League’s top four. All this with significant wage restrictions and no investment in 2018-19. Little wonder he appeals to a club whose willingness to spend is only rivalled by Viv Nicholson.
The absence of any trophies in his managerial career is a black mark and may see him hired on less than other, more proven, managers.
Pochettino is currently 11/4 to become Manchester United’s next permanent manager.
Former Real Madrid manager whose three Champions League triumphs at the Bernabeu is the stuff of legend. Or Roy of the Rovers, however you want to describe it.
Will he fit at United? Closely linked with the Chelsea job, the Londoners let it be known his lack of spoken English is a serious concern. Then again, if anyone heard Unai Emery mangle the language in his press conferences will know how endearing that can be.
No word from the French genius if he is interested in the job himself but can he bring his magic wand to Old Trafford? There’s a strong argument that all United are missing is a Ronaldo figure to challenge for the top trophies. Will that stop Zidane from coming to English football?
Zinedine Zidane is currently 28/1 with Smarkets to take the United job.
The England boss is the flavour of the month having taken England to the semi-finals of the World Cup and Nations League. If he gets the Three Lions to the same stages or further of Euro2020, there’s no stopping him when the top jobs come around, surely?
And therein is the issue. Southgate’s experience at club level is thin on the ground with just one stint at Middlesbrough before becoming England Under-21’s.
The England senior job is completely different to any club job and there seems to be some hesitancy on United’s part to upset the FA at present.
Gareth Southgate is 10/1 with Betfair to take the United job.
The Juventus boss is top of everyone’s list when a top job comes around. Arsenal were reportedly interested in taking him when Arsene Wenger left but he stayed in Turin.
An English speaker (of sorts), Allegri has stayed steadfastly loyal to the Turin club and there’s a feeling that the quest for the Champions League is as much his obsession as the Agnellis.
At 16/1, Allegri is good outside bet although the Bianconerri’s first leg defeat at Atletico Madrid suggests the Champions League is as far away as it has ever been from his grasp.