With Manchester United set for another trophy-less season and Ralf Rangnick destined for the Old Trafford boardroom, Mirror Football looks at the five main candidates for the position
“A proper coach” with at least “two of three years” should be Manchester United ’s priority according to Paul Scholes. The United legend watched his former team suffer another disappointing Champions League exit after Ralf Rangnick’s side were knocked out by Atletico Madrid.
It is a result which likely ends any remote possibility of Rangnick being handed the United reins on a full-time basis at the end of season. And while United fans have expressed desires of new full-backs, an alternative defender to Harry Maguire, and a new defensive minded central midfielder, Scholes vehemently believes a new manager must be at the front and centre of United’s focus.
“I think if you give this group of players a structure and way of playing, there’s some real talent in the squad. They’re not as talented as the teams above them [in the Premier League ], we know that,” Scholes said after the defeat.
“But, the very first thing this club needs to do, to get anywhere near winning the league again, is get a proper coach. Get a coach that suits the players, give them two or three years to build a squad of players that will challenge – Mirror Football takes a look at the five main candidates for the United job and what they achieved within the first three years of their current roles.
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The chaos and uncertainty blighting Chelsea amid Roman Abramovich’s sanctioning by the UK government has led to various pundits and former players stating United should take advantage of the situation and coerce Tuchel to Old Trafford. A few weeks ago, a move for the former Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund boss would have been considered beyond impossible.
That is because Tuchel has appeared to be on the verge of building a real legacy at Stamford Bridge, despite being in charge of the club for less than 18 months. After taking over from Frank Lampard in January 2020, Tuchel went on to win the Champions League and reach the FA Cup final within his first six months with the club.
He has since won the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup and were only narrowly beaten on penalties by Liverpool in the League Cup final. As Scholes said, United have a brilliant crop of players who are not clicking – Tuchel’s mastery in west London will likely see United fans clamouring for his arrival.
Paris Saint-Germain’s collapse against Real Madrid appeared to mark the end of Mauricio Pochettino’s time with the French giants and, in the eyes of many, pave a way for a move to Old Trafford. However, the former Tottenham and Southampton manager remains at the Parc des Princes as manager.
Pochettino replaced Tuchel at the PSG helm, after the current Chelsea boss was ruthlessly dispatched by the French giants on Christmas Eve. After taking over the reins with PSG in third position, just one point away from first place Lyon, Pochettino could only guide the Parisians to a second place finish as Lille pipped them to the Ligue 1 title.
Pochettino did manage to win the French Cup, his first trophy as a manager, and then the French Super Cup at the start of the season. While his side’s 15 point lead at the top of Ligue 1 will likely see his side stroll to another league title, their recent exit to Real Madrid paints an underwhelming picture, considering the likes of Lionel Messi and Gianluigi Donnarumma were signed at the start of the season.
Erik Ten Hag
Erik Ten Hag’s spectacular trophy haul with Ajax and unquestionable reputation for brilliant scouting and immense development has seen him emerge as one of the main contenders for the job. After being appointed as Marcel Keizer’s successor just after Christmas in 2017, he guided the Amsterdam side to a second placed finish, where they made up huge found on eventual winners PSV.
In his first full season with the club, he masterminded a magical campaign where Hakim Ziyech, Matthijs de Ligt, and Frenkie de Jong and co won the league and cup double and reached the Champions League semi-final where they were mere seconds away from the final. Having lost de Ligt, Ziyech, de Jong, and Donny van de Beek the following campaign, Ajax limped to a trophy-less season in the 2019-20 season, but roared back to winning ways with another League and cup double the following campaign.
Nevertheless, Ajax looked to be on their way to another Eredivisie title until Coronavirus caused the division to be ended and declared null and void. However, his side romped to a Eredivisie and Dutch Cup double the following campaign, where they finished 16 points ahead of second placed PSV.
While the glory days of Vincent Del Bosque remain a distant memory, Spain have taken hugely progressive steps towards since Luis Enrique resumed control of the reins in 2019. After a slow start to Euro 2020, Spain got all the way to the semi-finals where they were only just knocked out by Italy in a tense penalty shootout.
But they got a tiny semblance of revenge on Roberto Mancini’s side when they edged them out 2-1 in the Nations League semi-final, before falling to France in the final. While he is yet to taste international glory, Enrique looks to have paved the foundations for a Spain side who could be dark horses in the upcoming World Cup – whether he will be in charge of La Furia Roja or the Red Devils remains to be seen.
Brendan Rodgers may have once managed United’s fiercest rivals Liverpool, but his excellent work with Celtic and Leicester City could see the United board negate his past allegiances. After inheriting a side that was only eight points away from the relegation zone, Rodgers has assembled a fine Leicester team who have regularly competed for a place in the Champions League.
After a respectable ninth placed finish in his first four months, Rodgers guided the Foxes to consecutive fifth placed finishes where they were so close to qualifying for the Champions League. After finishing just one point away from fourth placed Chelsea last season, Rodgers did mastermind the Foxes’ first ever FA Cup triumph where they did overcome Thomas Tuchel’s side in the final, before following it up with a victory over Manchester City in the Community Shield.