Next Manchester United manager: 5 contenders to replace Jose Mourinho

Updated: 30/05/2024

After an atrocious start to the season, Manchester United's worst since 1990, Jose Mourinho has finally been sacked.

From falling out with star man Paul Pogba and bitterly criticising most of his squad to producing consistently turgid performances and average-to-poor results, Mourinho's tenure at United has been hugely damaging for all involved. His sacking hardly comes as a surprise, even if there were a flurry of ‘business as usual' stories going round after last weekend's 3-1 defeat to Liverpool.

Read more: Jose Mourinho sacked by Manchester United

The news cycle will now inevitably turn to who could replace Mourinho at United, with a huge rebuilding job needed after several seasons of demoralising infighting and aimless transfer strategy.

Here are the main men in line to succeed him.

Zinedine Zidane

Serial Champions League winner Zidane is the favourite to take over from Jose Mourinho (AFP/Getty Images)

Age: 46

Availability: Unattached

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)

Odds: 11/10

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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.

Read more: Why Zinedine Zidane could be perfect manager for Manchester United

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.

However, his agent has dismissed talk of a move to Old Trafford, telling the French weekly newspaper Journal du Dimanche: “I do not think that he will manage in England. It is much less his style. I have discussed it with him, it does not really attract him. He has chosen to have a year out, he will not dive in again before that is over.”

That said, his odds remain short at 11/10.

He would be a great acquisition for the club, if he can be tempted away from his sabbatical.

Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino has committed his long-term future to Spurs (Getty Images)

Age: 46

Availability: Current manager of Tottenham Hotspur

Former managerial jobs: Southampton, Espanyol

Managerial trophies: N/A

Odds: 8/1

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.

Read more: Manchester United desperate to appoint Mauricio Pochettino as Jose Mourinho's replacement

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 would be popular. In addition, he may even 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, especially given some recently inconsistent form after a very strong start. However, he recently signed a long-term contract which Daniel Levy has already told Real Madrid they would have to pay the remainder of.

His odds have lengthened slightly of late, presumably due to a combination of the large payout and the likelihood that Manchester United would plump for him with such a fee.

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.

Ryan Giggs

Welsh head coach Ryan Giggs is among the favourites for the Manchester United job (AFP/Getty Images)

Age: 44

Availability: Current manager of Wales

Former managerial jobs: Manchester United (interim)

Managerial trophies: N/A

Odds: 12/1

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 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 punditry on TV spots can definitely be questioned (and it frequently is). His work with the Welsh national side started promisingly enough, with resounding wins over China and Ireland, before defeats to Denmark, Spain, Denmark again and Albania.

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.

Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte was dismissed by Chelsea at the end of last season to make way for Maurizio Sarri, and is available (Getty Images)

Age: 49

Availability: Unattached

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)

Odds: 6/1

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.

Conte was also linked with the Real Madrid job after Julen Lopetegui's recent sacking, with Sergio Ramos commenting immediately that the players would not welcome a manager inclined to shake up the club, a comment commonly interpreted as referring to Conte. Other players such as Courtois expressed a preference for another manager. Conte has also expressed that he has no intention of returning to management this season.

While his record as a 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?

Brendan Rodgers

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has enjoyed a successful spell with the Scottish club and is one of the bookmakers' favourites for the job at Manchester United (Getty Images)

Age: 45

Availability: Current manger 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)

Odds: 14/1

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, however, failing to qualify for the Champions League group stage and off the pace in the league, 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 loth 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…

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Best of the rest

There are a number of other names in the mix, some of the usual crowd. Michael Carrick looks like he could be a very quick promotion to a managerial role, a risky but potentially a cheap option until the end of the season.

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.

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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.

Eddie Howe at 16/1 has also seen his odds shorten. One of the most promising young English managers in the game, he has achieved wonders with Bournemouth and enjoyed a magnificent start to the season – his side are only three points behind Manchester United at the time of writing. The question is how you ask him to leave a club he has taken from relative obscurity and where he is adored by the fanbase, while he is currently enjoying a zenith.

More on the Premier League:

Mourinho sacked by Man Utd

Man Utd's 11 signings under Mourinho – ranked from worst to best

Man Utd plot raid of Spurs and Leipzig to reunite Poch with Mitchell

Do Man Utd need a director of football?

Mourinho was a distraction from Glazers' shortcomings

Pochettino: A manager who could get Man Utd fans believing again

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