Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Next Man Utd manager: Zinedine Zidane makes final verdict on replacing Ten Hag as shock Dan Ashworth pick for job is revealed

Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag and potential replacement Zinedine Zidane

Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag and potential replacement Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane will reject any attempt by Manchester United to install him as Erik ten Hag’s successor this summer after a report named the surprise choice for the job by the club’s incoming new sporting director Dan Ashworth.

The Dutchman enjoyed a progressive first season at the helm last season by leading Manchester United to the FA Cup and Carabao Cup finals – with success coming in the latter – as well as a top-three finish that secured a much-desired return to the Champions League. However, little has gone right this time around with Ten Hag appearing to leap from one crisis to another and failing to get a consistent tune out of his expensively assembled squad.

They are, thankfully, through to the FA Cup quarter-finals after a narrow and somewhat fortunate victory over Nottingham Forest in midweek, but need to start picking up more wins in the Premier League after their unbeaten start to 2024 was derailed by Fulham last weekend, who claimed a 2-1 win at Old Trafford.

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And while United have suffered just one defeat in nine games so far this season, this weekend’s derby with Manchester City will illustrate exactly where they are as a side, with a defeat potentially widening the gap to fourth-placed Aston Villa to a worrying 11 points.

As a result, it is little surprise to see the pressure rising intensively on Ten Hag over the past week, with speculation rising that he may not retain his job going into the 2024/25 campaign.

To that end, our exclusive report on Friday explained that many at Old Trafford already feel Ten Hag is a deadman walking and that a decision on his removal as manager has already been made.

Zidane rules himself out of Man Utd running; picks three jobs he would take

Any decision on his future will be made by new minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe, alongside incoming new sporting director Dan Ashworth.

While Ashworth has not yet been cleared to start working at United – he is currently on gardening leave from Newcastle as the two clubs try and reach agreement on a settlement fee – he has reportedly held a number of talks with Ratcliffe on the direction he believes the club should go in.

Another of Ratcliffe’s close allies is INEOS director Jean-Claude Blanc, who is expected to take a role at United in the coming weeks. Well connected in the game after holding down similar roles at both PSG and Juventus, Blanc is thought to have recommended the legendary Zidane to take up the job.

However, multiple reports claim Zidane is ready to reject any approach to bring him to United.

And sources close to the iPaper claim Zidane would have no hestitation in spurning the offer if it came his way.

“When you have won what Zizou has, as a player and a manager, you can pick the perfect role,” the source said. “United at the moment aren’t that. He has always said he does not really want to live in England and has never tried to learn the language properly. That won’t change now.”

That claim is also backed up by RMC Sport, while Thomas Gravesen, who knows Zidane from his own time at Real Madrid has named the only three jobs he would return to the dug-out for.

“I spoke to Zidane in Madrid two years ago and he told me that there were only three roles he would like to accept: they are Marseille, Madrid and the French team,” Gravesen told Discovery Denmark.

“We were in Madrid two years ago, and he told me exactly that. I also asked him if he was ready to coach again. And then he told me there were no possibilities only for these three.”

Dan Ashworth picks dream Man Utd manager

Nonetheless, it’s suggested INEOS officials could yet still make the move, though do very quickly have a Plan B in mind.

Indeed, according to the i, the name that persistently keeps getting brought up at United is that of Graham Potter.

The 48-year-old remains out of work having been dismissed by Chelsea last year, having failed to get a tune out of their expensively-assembled squad.

And while some would question his merits to take on an arguably even bigger job at United, it’s reported that Ashworth is an enormous admirer of Potter, having worked closely with him during his time in charge of Brighton.

As a result, it’s reported that Ashworth has strongly pushed Potter’s name to Ratcliffe and outlined exactly why he has the footballing philosophy to make a success of the United job.

It’s also claimed that Julian Nagelsmann is another name under consideration, following a recommendation by former United interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

However, they are most likely to pursue a move for Potter if Ashworth gets his way, believing his ethos, style and personality is exactly what the club needs to help restore them to greatness.

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