With Jose Mourinho looking increasingly likely to be named Manchester United boss this summer, we look at six alternative options the club could consider amid claims the Portuguese is not to everyone’s taste at Old Trafford.
Despite growing claims that Mourinho is to replace Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford this summer, there have been reports on social media that senior figures at Old Trafford are not altogether too amoured by the thoughts of the Portuguese taking the job.
With a lack of viable contenders for the role available, our article earlier this month suggested United should dance with the devil and embrace the appointment of odds-on favourite Mourinho.
However, we look at six other alternative options the club could consider should the club decide against the appointment of the controversial Portuguese coach.
Mauricio Pochettino – current odds 10/1
When the Daily Telegraph labelled the Argentine the ‘perfect fit’ for United last month, they suggested the Tottenham boss’ high intensity pressing game bore legitimate comparison to the core principles Pep Guardiola will bring to Manchester City.
What they overlooked, however, was Pochettino’s willingness to develop young players and promote them within the youth set-up – something he’s achieved to good success at both Spurs and Southampton before that. United’s academy set-up has endured a shake-up in recent weeks, with more of an emphasis spent on developing youth again, which would make Pochettino – in many ways – the perfect candidate.
However, while United may well like the look of Pochettino – inspite his lack of Champions League experience – there would be serious doubts about whether he’d make what some would perceive as a backwards step by moving to United. They’d also likely meet extremely fierce opposition from Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who would no doubt do all within his power to keep his man at the White Hart Lane helm.
Diego Simeone – current odds 25/1
“[Diego] Simeone has a release contract at Atletico Madrid, I think they had a look at him before Van Gaal. I can’t quite understand why he hasn’t come into the picture.”
The words of Daily Telegraph journalist Matt Law when speaking to Sky Sports’ Sunday Supplement show this weekend.
It’s easy to see where Law was coming from given Simeone’s success at Atletico Madrid, where he has turned them from La Liga also-rans to serious contenders for the game’s top prizes.
That release contract Law refers to is the £6million compensation fee which would be due to Atletico should United prise him away from the Spanish capital. Hardly big money in the modern game – and a drop in the oceans for the wealth of cash soon to be swilling around in the Premier League.
Simeone’s contract at Atletico – which he signed a year ago and ties him to the club until the summer of 2020 – is worth a reported £4.4million a year – again money that he could easily double, if not treble should he move to the Premier League.
However, the Argentine has shown in the past that he remains completely loyal to Atletico and claims from the coach that “I am here because I’m convinced the club will continue to grow,” don’t offer United much hope of landing the Argentine.
Laurent Blanc – current odds 33/1
A former United defender, Blanc’s United appointment odds went on the drift a fortnight ago when he signed a new deal with PSG to commit him to the club until the summer of 2018.
Blanc described the offer of an extension as a “show of faith” from the club’s wealthy Qatari owners and desite Le 10 Sport claiming United had made contact with the 50-year-old to take over the reigns at Old Trafford, a move for Blanc looks increasingly unlikely.
The Parisians, two-time defending Ligue 1 champions, currently boast a 24-point lead at the top of the table, and also hold a narrow lead over Chelsea in their last 16 Champions League tie, and it would seemingly take something seriously special to persuade Blanc back to Old Trafford.
Ryan Giggs – current odds 13/2
A United legend. The club’s most decorated player, their record appearance holder with a staggering 963 matches under his belt, and now United assistant manager. But as we’ve seen in the past, the best players don’t always make the best coaches.
His possible appointment has been met with mixed reaction from observers: Bryan Robson describing him as United’s answer to Guardiola; Rio Ferdinand suggesting he’d be a ‘risky choice’.
However, amid suggestions he’s the preferred candidate among United’s hierarchy, (and probably with Sir Alex Ferguson in an advisory role) he does look the strongest rival to Mourinho, despite suggestions that his stock has been soured by his association with the failed Louis van Gaal era.
What does look the most likely scenario, however, is that Giggs continues in his assistant manager’s role, working alongside Mourinho, and with the top job on a promise once Mourinho departs….
Manuel Pellegrini – current odds 33/1
33/1. Why not? An unlikely contender, admittedly, given his association with Manchester City. But this summer, Pellegrini will be a man in demand and the rarest of rare things with the game’s top managers – a ‘free agent’.
Already linked with Chelsea, Juventus and Valencia – a return to La Liga looks like the most likely outcome for the Chilean come the summer. But let’s consider the pros about this: he knows the Premier League, he has Champions League experience, he understands the modern challenges, he’s shown himself happy to promote youth when needed, he’s shown a good eye for a signing, and he’s already based in the area.
The thing that would stick in the craw for many United fans would be the admission that by taking ‘City reject’ Pellegrini, the club would be accepting they now play second fiddle to the team once described, somewhat patronisingly, as their ‘noisy neighbours’ by Sir Sir Alex Ferguson.
But swallow their pride, and United might just find the best contender for their hotseat could be sitting right on their doorstep. Why not indeed?
Jorge Sampaoli – current odds unpriced
A bona fide outsider in our list given no bookmaker is currently offering odds on the Argentine succeeding Van Gaal at United this summer.
However, talk linking the former Chile coach to Chelsea was not deemed massively too far wide of the mark – with Bayern Munich star Arturo Vidal suggesting his former international coach had the “perfect style for the Premier League”.
“He likes speed, he likes pressing, he likes to attack a lot. That is the football you like in England, isn’t it?” Vidal told The Times.
Albeit unlikely, perhaps talk of Sampaoli moving to Old Trafford might just snowball a little, with one TEAMtalk Your Say poster expressing his surprise the 55-year-old tactician handn’t yet been suggested as a contender.
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Who do you think should succeed Van Gaal? Would Mourinho be the wrong choice? Do any of our other candidates fit the bill? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box, below.