10 points from seven league games, a cup exit and strained relationships with his own players. Jose Mourinho’s situation at Manchester United eerily reminds us of his final season at Chelsea and it may not be long before he is shown the exit door. We list out five men who United could turn to if they decide to fire Jose.
1. LAURENT BLANC
Blanc hasn’t taken up a managerial role since leaving Paris Saint-Germain in 2016. For many, the Frenchman may not seem like the ideal candidate to replace Mourinho because winning the Ligue 1 with PSG and the Premier League with Manchester United are different ball games. Lest we forget, Blanc has also won the Ligue 1 with Bordeaux in 2009.
PSG failed to win the Ligue 1 in the first season after his departure while they won it thrice in a row with him at the helm. In addition, they reached the quarterfinal of the Champions League with Blanc every season but haven’t gotten past the Round of 16 since his departure.
As a player, Blanc represented Manchester United in the final two seasons of his playing career and as a result, he will already know the expectations that come with the job. His appointment might also please his compatriots Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial who have been alienated by Mourinho.
2. LEONARDO JARDIM
United fans would love a manager who deploys an attacking style of play and can also bring to fore talented youngsters from the academy. Jardim ticks both these boxes.
He was hired by AS Monaco in 2014 after an impressive season with Sporting CP in Portugal. He inherited a side that finished seventh in the league in 2012-13 while scoring and conceding 36 goals. The average age of the side he worked with was just 24 but they finished second in the league, seven points behind champions Benfica, and scored 18 goals more and conceded 16 less than in the previous season.
The Portuguese manager impressively won the Ligue 1 with a young Monaco side in 2016-17 and that side racked up 95 points while scoring 107 goals! He also took them to the semifinal of the Champions League that season while beating Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City along the way.
Although still employed, United should be able to convince the 44-year-old to part ways with Monaco.
3. ANTONIO CONTE
Conte may not be high up the fans’ lists given his pragmatic approach but the former Chelsea boss makes sense for more than one reason.
Firstly, the Italian has already shown that he’s capable of acing the Premier League. Chelsea won the league in his debut season in England with 93 points while also breaking a couple of league records on the way. In addition, his Chelsea side reached the FA Cup final in both seasons he was in charge and won the 2018 final at the expense of United.
Secondly, he may be able to solve one of United’s big concerns – bringing the best out of Pogba. Pogba moved to Juventus in 2012 and played under Conte for two seasons. It was under the Italian’s tutelage that the Frenchman rose to fame and became one of Europe’s most coveted midfielders.
Conte had unresolvable issues with the Chelsea management and it was one of the reasons behind his departure. If United can provide him with the players necessary to make his system work, then the partnership has the potential to work wonders.
4. MAURICIO POCHETTINO
Of all the names mentioned in this list, Pochettino will be the most difficult for United to pursue. Spurs will do everything they can to avoid losing their manager during the course of the season and this is a manager who has helped raise the profile of the club.
The benefits of hiring Pochettino is similar to that of hiring Jardim. United get a manager who favours offensive football and also has a fantastic track record working with young players. However, Pochettino will be less of a gamble than Jardim because the former has over five-and-a-half years of experience managing in the Premier League.
If Man Utd are keen on appointing Pochettino and have to wait till next summer for his services, then they will need someone to take charge till the end of the current season. Chelsea have gone through similar situations in the past and they found a solution like appointing Rafa Benitez in 2012-13 or Guus Hiddink in 2015-16.
5. ZINEDINE ZIDANE
Should Mourinho be sacked, an outright favourite for the post is Zidane. He left his role at Real Madrid in the summer after two-and-a-half seasons of unparalleled success. Nine trophies including three Champions League titles in his first job as a manager has seen his stock rise.
The 46-year-old is no stranger to managing a club with huge expectation and superstars, so the United job, if it becomes his, won’t be a new challenge in that aspect. However, it will be a tough job nevertheless.
Zidane, the player, is an idol to many modern-day superstars including Pogba and this should give added motivation for the 25-year-old midfielder to stay at Old Trafford and perform to the best of his abilities.
Zidane took over as Real manager midway through a season and won the Champions League. United fans would love nothing more than a repeat of that feat with their beloved club.