Following a dismal 3-2 loss against Brighton in the Premier League, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has found himself under heavy criticism from pundits, fans and the press.
Simple defensive errors were to blame for the loss, as well as a timidity from the United midfield, which showed little inclination to attack. United managed only one shot on target in the first half at the Amex Stadium and conceded three goals, leading both captain Paul Pogba and Mourinho to admit there were severe problems.
The Portuguese’s odds on being the next Premier League manager sacked have shortened and he now finds himself ranked most likely by most bookmakers at around 7/2. The same bookies are also taking bets for the men to succeed him. Here are five contenders thought to be on the club’s shortlist - including Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers, who is priced at 20/1 to succeed the former Real Madrid and Inter boss.
Availability: Current manager of Celtic
Former managerial jobs: Liverpool, Swansea, Reading, Watford
Managerial trophies: Scottish Premiership (2016/17, 2017/18), Scottish Cup (2016/17, 2017/18), Scottish League Cup (2016/17, 2017/18), Football League Championship Play-Offs (2010/11)
Brendan Rodgers has enjoyed a dominant spell in Scottish football with Celtic, going on an enormous run of 69 domestic games unbeaten and securing a historic back-to-back treble. His side have stuttered this season, failing to qualify for the Champions League group stage, which could leave a number of their finer talents interested in a move to a club that can offer it. Rodgers himself may also be tempted to move, having achieved everything he possibly can in Scottish domestic football. Manchester United may be loath to hire a former Liverpool manager, or indeed a manager who oversaw such a poor start to the 2015/16 season – they may also doubt that winning the Scottish league with Celtic (who have done it the last seven times of asking) is that much of an achievement these days. Still, the last manager the club hired from the Scottish leagues didn’t do too badly...
Former managerial jobs: Chelsea, Italy, Juventus, Siena, Atalanta, Bari, Arezzo
Managerial trophies: Serie B (2008/09), Serie A (2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14), Supercoppa Italiana (2012, 2013), Premier League (2016/17), FA Cup (2017/18)
Antonio Conte has a long pedigree of success in club football and brought back the 3-5-2 to English football with his title-winning Chelsea side in the 2016/17 season. He now finds himself without a club after Chelsea dismissed the three-time Serie A winning coach for another Italian export, Maurizio Sarri. There was also the small matter of his dismissal of Diego Costa after a Premier League-winning goal haul – commonly regarded as a bizarre decision – and his public criticisms of Chelsea’s transfers, saying he had little to work with in his final season. While his record as an excellent manager is beyond question, his temperament is not. If United are looking to replace their current egomaniac with an excellent record, why would they recruit another one?
Availability: Current manager of Wales
Former managerial jobs: Manchester United (interim)
Managerial trophies: n/a
Ryan Giggs worked as a player-coach under David Moyes and took over from the sacked Scotsman in the final four games of the 2013/14 season. Having managed the club and played there for over two decades, he knows the setup at Old Trafford inside and out. However, he has never taken charge of a club on a permanent basis, does not have a strong managerial record to flaunt, and his tactical punditry on TV spots can definitely be questioned (and it frequently is). Giggs would be a familiar face, but to trust such an inexperienced manager would seem rash – and it is uncertain what the offer would mean for his commitments with the Welsh national team.
Availability: Current manager of Tottenham Hotspur
Former managerial jobs: Southampton, Espanyol
Managerial trophies: n/a
A long-time favourite to take charge at Old Trafford, Mauricio Pochettino worked well with the youth players at Southampton and then at Tottenham Hotspur, helping develop players like Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana into the talents they are today. As a result, it is thought many players at Spurs see his managerial future as crucial to their own playing careers. His attention to domestic youth prospects would go down well at United, who have seen some of their younger players stall in their development in recent years, and his attacking style of play (a high-pressing 4-2-3-1) would be popular. In addition, he may be able to lure players like Kane, Alli and Kieran Trippier to Old Trafford, which would go down very well with supporters. Tottenham didn’t spend in the summer transfer window, after Pochettino urged them to – so it’s possible he could be unsettled and tempted by a move away. However, he is under a recently-signed long-term contract which Daniel Levy already told Real Madrid they would have to pay the remainder of. It would be expensive, but the club hierarchy may see it as a worthwhile and long-term investment. The only thing that may be of concern is his lack of silverware, despite a strong winning record.
Former managerial jobs: Real Madrid, Real Madrid Castilla
Managerial trophies: La Liga (2016/17), Spanish Super Cup (2017), Uefa Champions League (2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18), Uefa Super Cup (2016, 2017), Fifa Club World Cup (2016, 2017)
Zinedine Zidane‘s progression to football management was rapid, and he returned the faith placed in him by the Real Madrid hierarchy with prolific success. His domestic achievements were modest compared to the dominance he fostered in Europe. Zizou became the first coach to win the Champions League for the third consecutive time in the summer, and promptly resigned from the club after the final. Zidane’s Madrid were characterised by attacking football which played to the strengths of their world-class players, principally Cristiano Ronaldo. Although there’s little chance of securing the former United No 7, who has just started his late-career journey at Juventus, Zidane would look to get the best out of the creative talents already in United’s ranks. He would be a great acquisition for the club, if he can be tempted away from his sabbatical.
Best of the rest
There are a number of other names in the mix, some of the usual crowd. Thomas Tuchel, the studious ex-Dortmund manager, is linked but has a job at Paris Saint Germain working with the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
He is probably all right where he is, thank you.
Didier Deschamps is an interesting shout, but it is unclear whether the French World-Cup winning coach would be able to work at Old Trafford alongside his national team duties – although he would strengthen his relationship with Pogba.
Luis Enrique is always in these shortlists, and the ex-Barcelona man has an excellent resume as most ex-Barcelona coaches do – but he would demand an enormous pay packet too and was recently appointed Spain manager.
More left-field options would be the English Premier League coaches who achieved lots with smaller teams, such as Sean Dyche or Eddie Howe.
However, the lack of trophies won by both in the top-tier would make them more risky options.