The latest managerial departure from the Premier League is a pretty big one. Former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho had spent around 2 and a half years at the club before facing the sack after a disappointing 3-1 loss to fierce rivals Liverpool. The reds have wasted no time in finding a replacement appointing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as interim manager for the remainder of the season.
Jose Mourinho’s sacking hasn’t really come as a surprise given how poor the Manchester club have been this season, and really since he took over altogether. Whilst the Portuguese legend did manage to win the League Cup and Europa League in the same season, these fairly minor trophies were not enough to satisfy hungry United fans who were used to winning Premier League titles almost every other year under Sir Alex Ferguson. Mourinho was also unable to build on these trophies having won nothing since and, with his side currently sitting 6th in the table, way behind those in front of them, this sacking is one which was ultimately deserved. Although two and a half years may not seem like a long time, it is a reasonably long reign for a manager in today’s game. There can’t be any argument that Mourinho wasn’t given enough time to properly install his style into his side. The current United team are just as bad now, if not worse than they were when Mourinho first took charge. Perhaps the one thing that saved Mourinho’s job for this long was the considerable fee that came with sacking him. Of course, £22.5 million is not a small fee but it’s not extortionate for a club of United’s size. The board have agreed to spend significantly more than that on just one player so money doesn’t really appear to be an issue for them. This does make you wonder why they left it so long to the point that this season is now a complete write-off. Why not give someone else the opportunity to recover from Mourinho’s position after 10 games, for example, so that there’s still the possibility of them qualifying for the Champions League at the very least?
Although it does seem to be too late, most United fans will be thankful that Mourinho’s departure has happened at all. It does look to be a huge challenge for interim boss Solskjaer, whose only real managerial experience in English football came during an unsuccessful stint in charge of Cardiff City. As much as he doesn’t look like being the manager in the long run, in some ways he can’t really lose. As we’ve already established, this season is pretty much over for United fans already. Given their current position and boring style of football, expectations will be very low. No one is going to expect an inexperienced manager to change everything overnight so that United become the feared giants they once were, so any positive impact Solskjaer has is likely to greatly enhance his reputation. He is already somewhat of a fan favourite following his impressive playing career with the Red Devils meaning most fans will be willing to give him a chance in a season where they’ve come to expect very little. Who knows, if the new boss does perform well as interim manager then why would he not be considered as a potential candidate to be given a long term contract?
Whilst it’s not going to be until the end of the season, we should consider the candidates to become the new full-time boss of Manchester United. As you’d expect, all sorts of names are being mentioned in the media but just two are beginning to look like the favourites: Mauricio Pochettino and Zinedine Zidane. Starting with the current Tottenham boss, Pochettino looks like an ideal candidate for a number of reasons. United are a club who don’t like to remove managers not long after they’ve appointed them; we can see that via Ferguson’s long reign and the fact that his successor, David Moyes, would still have 6 months left on his United contract if he did remain at the club. The Argentinian has remained loyal to Spurs despite links to top European clubs like Real Madrid. This could work in two ways for United: it may mean there’s absolutely no chance of him making the move to Manchester, or they may have a chance because the Tottenham boss may prefer this move to joining Madrid for a few reasons. Pochettino has had virtually no financial backing this season, something he would certainly have plenty of if he were to join the reds. This move would also mean that he gets to remain in England, managing in the Premier League which he will have become so familiar with by now. Yet, prying a manager away from one of your league’s top sides is never going to be easy. Therefore, United could alternatively chase another realtively new but vastly successful manager in Zidane. The Frenchman left Spanish giants Madrid having won three consecutive Champions Leagues there, an achievement that has never been attained by any other manager. Clearly, Zidane is capable of big things and would be hugely beneficial to key French players in the United squad who have failed to hit top gear, such as Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial. And of course, appointing a manager who is currently without a job is always going to be an easier task than getting one from one of your rivals.
Regardless of who the board choose to appoint as manager, it appears that the only way is up for Manchester United, following the sacking of Jose Mourinho. It would be difficult for any manager to do much worse than Mourinho both on and off the pitch, something which will fill United fans with optimism. For now, let’s see what Solskjaer can achieve during his time in charge and eagerly anticipate what will happen at the end of the season.