Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
After an excruciatingly poor start to their 2018/19 Premier League campaign, Manchester United have sacked manager Jose Mourinho.
United’s crushing 3-1 loss to Liverpool at the weekend left the club a full 19-points off their traditional rivals after just 17 games, and the manner of the defeat and subsequent fallout looks to have sparked the club’s decision-makers into action.
For most Man Utd supporters, Mourinho’s sacking had been long overdue. The Portuguese coach had been the personification of misery this season, denigrating his superiors and his players with relentless acerbity.
In an official statement, the club detailed their plans to appoint a caretaker manager until the end of the season, before appointing Mourinho’s permanent replacement next summer.
Let’s take a look at some of the candidates and favourites to become the next permanent Manchester United manager:
Zinedine Zidane – 5/2
Out of work legendary French international Zinedine Zidane is the bookmakers’ early favourite to succeed Jose Mourinho in the Old Trafford hotseat.
In the Frenchman’s only senior management role to date, Real Madrid won the Champions League for a record breaking 3 consecutive seasons under Zidane’s expert instruction.
Zidane has been heavily linked with the United job since his departure from the Bernabéu in May, though some rumours suggest that the former World Cup winner isn’t keen on a move to England.
Leonardo Jardim 12/1
Venezuelan-born, Portuguese manager Leonardo Jardim’s reputation skyrocketed during his most recent managerial stint at Monaco between 2014 and 2018.
Jardim combined his incredible ability to develop young players with some clever transfer market manipulation to create a tremendously exiting team in the Principality.
Jardim’s Monaco team peaked during the 2016/17, when a side featuring stars like Kylian MBappe, Thomas Lemar, Benjamin Mendy, Fabinho and Bernardo Silva fired the club to Ligue 1 glory and all the way to the Semi Finals of the Champions League.
The guts of that team, including every one of the players listed above were eventually ripped out and sold off to bigger clubs however, and unable to manage the necessary rebuild adequately, Jardim was sacked in October this year.
With a track record of bringing through young players and a reputation for favouring attacking football, Jardim ticks plenty of the right boxes, though for now at least, he feels like an outside bet.
Mauricio Pochettino – 12/1
Mauricio Pochettino would be most United supporters’ first choice to succeed Jose Mourinho as the club’s new manager.
The Argentinean coach has done an incredible job at Tottenham Hotspur, building a talented, competitive team on a shoe string budget relative to the resources available to Spurs’ top of the table rivals.
The vertical trajectory of Spurs’ younger players’ development under Pochettino would be of particular interest to United, as will the evolution of Tottenham’s style of play under the 46-year old.
Spurs of course would be incredibly reluctant to let Pochettino leave. The Argentine signed a new contract with the club as recently as May.
Things change quickly in football however, and ongoing tension over transfers between Pochettino and Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy could be the catalyst for a shake-up in the dugout.
Eddie Howe – 33/1
The odds on Eddie Howe becoming the next permanent Manchester United manager are understandably long, though events could shift the odds further in his favour in the next few months.
If the rumours hinting that Zidane is reluctant to take a job in the Premier League are true, and if other candidates like Mauricio Pochettino are unavailable, Eddie Howe could start to move up the list of favourites and into contention for the job at United.
All things considered, Howe’s achievements at Bournemouth are among the most impressive managerial feats in football over the past decade.
The 41-year old has been repeatedly passed over when the country’s biggest jobs open up, and there are suggestions that in a footballing world where English coaches are considered less capable than their foreign counterparts, Howe’s nationality has held him back.
However, after Jose Mourinho, caustic and abrasive approach, United might go down a calmer, more holistic route with their next managerial appointment. Eddie Howe certainly fits that profile.
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