When José Mourinho joined United after replacing the sacked van Gaal, it seemed like a match made in heaven. Even though he didn’t get the chance back in 2013 when Sir Alex retired, he finally got his wish to manage United.
Ever since he took charge he has been scrutinized, receiving a lot of backlash no matter what he has done. Four games into his first season in charge, United lost the first Derby of the season at home to City.
The 16/17 season was one to forget domestically, as Manchester United finished 6th in the league table and out of the Champions League places; they went on to win the Europa League which ensured they didn’t miss out on the Champions League the coming season anyway. Mourinho and his team also won the League Cup by beating Southampton at Wembley that February.
The Portuguese manager won two trophies in his first season in charge which no United manager had ever done in the history of the club. He guided the club to a respectable second placed finish last season with the number of points tally, which would have won the title under Fergie a commendable four times.
Even though he has enjoyed success at United, it has always been underwhelmed or overshadowed by our rivals. United has enjoyed its best post-Ferguson era under Mourinho, no matter what anyone says. In the 16/17 season, United finished outside the top 6, and City and Liverpool both finished inside the top four. Last season United finished second, City won the title with the record number of points and broke numerous records on the way, while Liverpool reached the UCL final.
It was demanded at numerous occasions that he be sacked. Mourinho’s start to the United tenure was pretty scary as the club had lost three in a row in September in all competitions, and we’d thrashed four – nil at the bridge. It’s not just about the results that everyone is upset and angry about. Mourinho and his dull style of play, constant public criticism and wailing about not getting his desired signings are not enjoyed by a majority of fans and pundits alike.
Given that, everyone would agree that this is the best set of fans Mourinho has encountered after they repeatedly backed him in games with full force and peak volume in the stadium.
But it seems like his tenure is coming to an end, be it now or at the end of the season – with the lack of results, poor performances and constantly being outclassed by the opponents. The negatives seem to be piling up, which could eventually lead to one big sack.
There have been a lot of Managers who’ve been linked with the United job before – Zinedine Zidane, Diego Simeone, Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino are some high class names. Some not-so-recognizable names who’ve been linked with the job are Julian Nagelsmann, Eddie Howe, Ryan Giggs, Leonardo Jardim and Roberto Martínez. Many of them were just floating rumors and none being a serious link.
We take a look at some of the potential replacements, how they would fit, and their chances of getting the United job.
Eddie Howe instead of Mourinho
The current Cherries boss has done a fantastic job at Bournemouth, with the club achieving a higher League finish every consecutive season. He has transformed the Cherries from a relegation battling club to a stable mid-table club. His knack of buying young players with good potential from the lower Leagues has made him stand out from the rest of the managers, as he also promotes home-grown talent. Buying young players who don’t get a chance at first team football from top clubs has been his key strategy in the transfer market.
It’s not just players he has a good eye for: his style of play is also eye-catching, with Bournemouth playing beautiful free flowing football with discipline and panache. He isn’t called the Guardiola of the small clubs for no reason; plus, the Glazers would be happy with minimal requirement of investment in terms of transfer budgets.
Probability of Mourinho Replacement – 30%
Leonardo Jardim instead of Mourinho
Jardim came into the spotlight with the Tottenham Hotspurs Champions League fixture at Wembley in the 16/17 season.
In a season where United were domestically struggling and in Europe were competing in the second tier club European club competition, Les Monegasques marched onto the title, reaching the last four of the UCL beating the likes of Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund in the knock out stages.
He has been known to play good football and dominate matches with his style of play. Whenever his style of play is talked about, everyone will remember the Spurs game where the full backs stole the game – Monaco outclassed Spurs at their own turf.
If Howe has a knack for finding young talent domestically, Jardim does this on a continental level – Kylian Mbappé, Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Henrichs, Youri Tielemans are some of them that sold off for huge transfer fees. He constantly and consistently replaces his sold stars with potential quality players, developing them into stars on their own merit. This would also help United’s trend of buying young talents and playing them consistently to etch Superstars out of them.
Probability of Mourinho Replacement – 45%
Mauricio Pochettino instead of Mourinho
Since taking over Spurs in 2014, Pochettino has brought stability and quality to his side,with playing as an attacking unit. His signings of Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld, Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier have helped him continue functioning and improving as a team.
His side brought the unbeaten start of City in 16/17 to an end at White Hart Lane, and beat Chelsea to curb their winning streak the same season. His playing style has been pointed out and lauded by many pundits alike, and he has been repeatedly linked with the United job.
He is known for signing young talent which would adhere to United’s youth development policy and playing home-grown talent.
Probability of Mourinho Replacement – 70%
The likes of Zidane, Conte, Simeone have been ruled out because they either they don’t fit United’s requirement or they are not interested to leave their current club to destroy a continuing project. The probable replacements seem promising enough.