Former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane was linked with the Manchester United job last November before Ralf Rangnick was appointed as interim manager until the summer
Manchester United reportedly used “baseless” rumours linking Zinedine Zidane with their vacant managerial position as a tactic to keep Cristiano Ronaldo happy.
Reports last November claim Zidane was being lined up to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ronaldo had given his seal of approval. Zidane never did get the job, as United appointed Ralf Rangnick as interim manager until the end of the season.
Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is set to be announced as the new United manager in the coming weeks. The 52-year-old has agreed in principle to take the job on a four-year contract, beating Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino in a two-horse race.
United have held several in-depth interviews with Ten Hag in recent weeks. It’s believed the former Bayern Munich reserve team coach has laid out a long-term plan for the Red Devils and will have the final say on transfers and style of play.
Zidane seemed the obvious choice for the United job after Solskjaer’s dismissal due to other candidates being employed elsewhere. He was unattached after leaving Real at the end of the 2020-21 campaign, completing a second successful spell.
The Frenchman won 11 trophies during his time in charge of Real, including two La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues. His success on the continent is the most admirable, as he’s the only manager in history to win three consecutive European Cups.
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Ronaldo was Zidane’s talisman at Real during his first spell in charge. “He [Zidane] helped me a lot,” said Ronaldo in August 2019. “I already had a lot of respect for him but working with him made me admire him more. That’s because of what he’s like as a person, how he talks, how he led the team and how he treated me.”
Another unattached candidate last November was Antonio Conte, who went on to become Tottenham manager after United failed to make him an offer. It’s believed the Italian was not expected Solskjaer to be dismissed when he took the Spurs job.
The Red Devils were left to rue that decision, with Conte’s team currently sitting in fourth in the Premier League – six points ahead of Rangnick’s side in seventh. Arsenal and West Ham are also in contention to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
As reported by the Manchester Evening News, Ronaldo was not impressed with the idea of Conte becoming the next United boss. The club’s hierarchy was also not keen on the idea, with legends such as Gary Neville also expressing their doubts.
It’s believed Ronaldo held the United dressing room together after their humiliating 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool in October. Yet reports also suggest the Portuguese ace was dissatisfied with Solskjaer’s performance and his agent Jorge Mendes asked Ed Woodward if he would be sacked following the 4-1 defeat to Watford in November.
The Norwegian was dismissed after that dismal result and it’s believed Mendes recommended Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui as his replacement, but Rangnick was appointed.