Nobody thought this article would be written this season, but that’s the nature of football. Erik ten Hag, flying after an encouraging last season had basically been handed the keys to the club, finds himself in a precarious position all of a sudden. Manchester United’s next manager discussions are already underway, a thought that wasn’t remotely realistic at the start of the season.
Unfortunately, after eight losses from 15 games, and bad performances in about 13 of those, Ten Hag looks like the next in a line of managers who have failed to revive this sleeping giant.
With the Dutchman’s future on thin ice, here are the top three candidates to be Manchester United’s next manager-
Sporting Lisbon’s Ruben Amorim has, for a long time, looked like a sure bet to take the next step to a European elite in his career. His thrilling attacking football, trust in youth, and Champions League pedigree have made him one of the favourites every time an elite job opening comes up.
Perhaps most importantly for United, Amorim has a reputation for making players better. The likes of Pedro Porro, Nuno Mendes, Matheus Nunes, and Joao Palhinha are just some of the names who played their best football under Amorim at Sporting before flourishing elsewhere.
Furthermore, he has history of reviving a sleeping giant. He was the mastermind behind Sporting’s first league title in 19 years while losing only once the entire season in 2020/21.
United fans will have deja vu because these are also some of the qualities that were used to describe Erik ten Hag at Ajax before he had joined United.
However, the reality remains that the current version of Ten Hag is unrecognisable from the one who thrilled Europe with his energetic young squad. Amorim is the next big thing.
If United don’t want to get burned by going after the next big thing again, they can try fishing for the biggest thing in the pool.
Zidane is currently unemployed following a trophy-laden spell with Real Madrid when Los Blancos made Champions League their personal playground.
Many managers have cited player management issues as one of their biggest obstacles at succeeding at United. For Zidane, that’s his biggest strength. There is no dressing room and board tougher to navigate and demanding than Real Madrid. The way he brought them together during his spell in Spain to get the best out of everyone silenced everyone who doubted him.
Even his tactical acumen came to the fore during his second spell at the club, when he expertly used the tiring resources at his disposal to squeeze out another La Liga title.
Lacking charisma and natural presence was cited as one of the deficiencies of Ten Hag even when he was at Ajax. That has become painfully clear now that the results aren’t their to hide it. Zidane brings that and more in heaps.
It feels crazy to say that about a manager who, at one point during his Bayern Munich tenure, had more trophies than losses, but Flick is at a crossroads in his managerial career.
His Bayern spell ended disastrously off the pitch after he fell out with the board. The spell at Germany wasn’t any good and now Flick is on the outside looking in for jobs. He is clearly highly-regarded still, but he needs his next job to be a success.
A highly-charged, confrontational personality, on paper, looks like the worst possible fit for the current United squad. However, when Sir Jim Ratcliffe takes control, and changes happen at the top level, like Jean-Claude Blanc coming as the CEO, Flick might become an attractive option.
Ratcliffe might install him and back him unequivocally to reset the standards at the club. Ten Hag has made an attempt to do the same but the history of the Glazers is such that there is a rotten culture that permeates through the club.
Flick might be able to hit the refresh button it under new ownership.