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Who Might Take the Reins at Manchester United?

Manchester United will once again look to find a manager who can return the club to its former glory

Manchester United by Paul is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Who Might Take the Reins at Manchester United?

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

The Premier League is probably one of, if not the most difficult domestic soccer leagues in the world. It’s unforgiving when managers don’t find success. At Manchester United, there has been a revolving door of managers since the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, José Mourinho – all were given their walking papers in short order after failing to find continued success at Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was finally sacked after a painful 4-1 defeat to Watford back in November, becoming the latest victim. The rumor mill immediately cranked into high gear about what the club would do to replace him. A plethora of names was bandied about before the dust settled and Ralf Rangnick was named as interim manager for the remainder of the season.

Since taking over, Rangnick has had a tough go of it. The results have been mixed, and the club currently sits 7th in the table. So – I figure it’s a good time to revisit the list of potential candidates who may be brought in to try and turn things around when the season is over.

sarcastic dan levy GIF by CBC

Every time someone gets sacked at Old Trafford (or most other places for that matter), these guys are mentioned as possible replacements. Their bona fides put them at or near the top of any list of managerial candidates.

Zinedine Zidane

Currently a free agent, Zidane established himself as a solid manager while at Real Madrid. He found success both in the Champions League and in La Liga, bringing trophies home in both competitions. Both Ronaldo and Varane have played for Zidane, and he clearly would bring an experienced hand when dealing with huge expectations and lots of strong personalities in the dressing room. There is a question as to whether or not he’d actually want the gig.

Mauricio Pochettino

Ah, yes – the one that got away. After Tottenham parted ways with Poch, speculation ran rampant that United would bring him to Old Trafford. Alas, it didn’t come to pass. Instead, he jumped to France to take the reins as Paris Saint Germain, where he gets to work with the likes of Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi. Overtures were made in the immediate aftermath of the Solskjaer sacking, but they were short-lived. Time will tell what might happen once the current campaign comes to a close.

Brendan Rodgers

There’s no denying his managerial credentials. Trophies have followed him from Celtic to Leicester, but what might it take to pry him away from the Foxes? Oh – he’s also managed Liverpool, so that could be a tough sell for some United fans. Of course, if he were to find success, it could go a long way.

The “Lesser Known” Options

John Krasinski Hello GIF by SomeGoodNews

This crop of names may not have immediately come to mind, but given the recent track record at the club, maybe it’s time to think outside the box a bit.

Luis Enrique

Still another name who’s proven himself capable of handling immense pressure. He’s currently in charge of Spain but has indicated his desire to one day manage in the Premier League.

Erik ten Hag

While he may not yet have name recognition, he’s quickly proven himself up to the task. He cut his teeth with Bayern Munich’s youth team but has really made an impression since taking over at Ajax in 2017. He brought the club to the Champions League semi-final in 2018-19 and has captured the Dutch title as well. His attacking style would be a welcome sight at Old Trafford.

The “X Factors”

Of course, we’re only in January. There’s no telling how the remainder of the season may shake out. Will United find their form and go on a run to secure a Champions League spot? Will they totally collapse to depths never before seen by this storied club? Or will they continue to confound us all, bouncing back and forth between impressive victories and head-scratching draws or defeats? The remaining fixtures will impact things in any number of ways. There may be more managers available, or maybe they’ll decide to give Rangnick another year. Perhaps some of their top targets will take jobs elsewhere before United comes calling. Who knows?

This Writer’s Wish List

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Personally, I’m trying to keep an open mind when it comes to who lands the job. Ed Woodward leaving at the end of the month is a great first step. I think the club has to bring in a sporting director whose focus is the product on the pitch. Maybe that’s their plan for Rangnick after the season? After all, he is already making waves with his player analysis. Regardless, here’s my current order of who I’d like to see in the job:

  • Mauricio Pochettino: if the stars align somehow, I think he’d do wonders. Did I mention that PSG have reached out to Zidane?
  • Erik ten Hag: I didn’t know much about him, but the more I hear, the more I like
  • Brendan Rodgers: His familiarity with the Premier League and proven success are intriguing, and if he can succeed at United, it’d be great to annoy Liverpool fans
  • Zinedine Zidane: I’m currently ambivalent on him to be honest. I wouldn’t hate the appointment, but I don’t know how much I’d love it either.

Depending on how the next few months go, my order of preference may change, but I’d consider this to be my “top tier”. No matter what happens, we’ll all be keeping a close eye on goings-on at Old Trafford. There are issues beyond the manager to be sure, so whoever ends up in the job will have a daunting task ahead in trying to bring success back as a way of life for the red side of Manchester.

Joe is an actor who grew up eating, living and breathing sports. He spent many an afternoon on the soccer or baseball field in his youth (and even gave several other sports a shot) before a series of events put him on the path to pursuing a performing career. Subsequently, he's worked almost every other type of job you could imagine while trying to support that endeavor. Whenever he's not working any of those jobs, he can often be found watching, playing or discussing sports in some way. Most of that banter revolves around the Mets, Giants, Rangers or Manchester United. His short term goal is to fully convert his fiance into a rabid sports fan, not someone who leaves the room whenever he turns a game on.

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