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Manchester United next manager: Pochettino, Zidane, Solskjaer & the top candidates for Old Trafford job

2:00 PM GMT+4 09/01/2019
Mauricio Pochettino Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Zinedine Zidane
As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rebuilds from the ruins left behind by Jose Mourinho, Goal takes a look at some of the candidates in the running for the job

The cloud has lifted over Old Trafford since Jose Mourinho's departure and the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker boss until the end of the season was an inspired move.

It was an unusual move by the Manchester United hierarchy, but one which has already paid off with Paul Pogba, in particular, thriving in the new atmosphere fostered by the Norwegian.

Solskjaer's brief takes him up to the end of the 2018-19 season, with United set to appoint a permanent successor to Mourinho after that.

So who will take the reins? Goal takes a look at the top candidates - as well as a few outsiders - and their odds for the Manchester United job.

  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 2018-19

    #1 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would not have been the first choice for many prior to his appointment as Mourinho's (temporary) successor, but the Norwegian has hit the ground running and lifted the spirits around Old Trafford. The fan favourite affectionately known as 'the Baby-Faced Assassin' is ostensibly 'on loan' from Molde until the end of the 2018-19 season, but he has made no secret of his desire to earn the right to remain as manager.

    While Solskjaer has made an impressive start to his tenure as Red Devils boss, the United hierarchy will be wise to reserve judgement until he navigates through sterner seas. Nevertheless, the fact that he is getting the best out of the likes of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford is an early indication of what lies ahead. Should he continue to breathe life into the husk left behind by Mourinho, it will be a big risk for United chiefs to change course.

    Odds: 4/1

  • Mauricio Pochettino Tottenham 2018

    #2 Mauricio Pochettino

    Prior to Solskjaer's appointment as caretaker manager, Mauricio Pochettino was the clear favourite to take the reins from Mourinho on a permanent basis and it is easy to see why. The Argentine has built a formidable team at Tottenham, one which practices an attractive brand of football and continues to compete with clubs boasting far greater financial muscle. The likes of Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Heung-min Son have flourished under the Argentine's guidance.

    Pochettino would be expected to replicate that consistency at Old Trafford and the chances are that he could be enough to lure some of the aforementioned stars north, which would be an added bonus. While Solskjaer is eager to give the United decision-makers a headache come the end of the season, Pochettino remains the stand-out candidate, with a fuller CV behind him than the Norwegian.

    Odds: 7/4

  • Zidane

    #3 Zinedine Zidane

    Having steered Real Madrid to three successive Champions League titles and a Liga in his first senior managerial role, Zinedine Zidane would appear to have the golden touch, which is something Manchester United need if they wish to restore the glory days.

    The French coach has been touted as a candidate for the role since the early days of Mourinho's decline, but seems to have since been overtaken in the running by Pochettino, whose Premier League experience may be viewed as an advantage. Nevertheless, Zidane still has plenty of admirers, with former United striker Louis Saha, for example, believing him to be the "best choice" for the club.

    Odds: 4/1

  • Laurent Blanc 17032018

    #4 Laurent Blanc

    World Cup winner Laurent Blanc helped Manchester United to a Premier League title in 2003 in one of the final acts of his playing career and he would surely relish the opportunity to repeat the feat as manager. The 53-year-old boasts experience in both club and international management, but has not been employed in a senior position since departing his job at Paris Saint-Germain in 2016.

    That hiatus from the game may be somewhat of a stumbling block, but Blanc can always point to his Ligue 1 success with both Bordeaux and PSG as indicators of his ability to build winning teams wherever he goes.

    Odds: 10/1

  • Antonio Conte Chelsea

    #5 Antonio Conte

    Instant Premier League success with Chelsea marks Antonio Conte out as a fine candidate to lead Manchester United into a new era as the club seek their first league crown since 2013. The Italian failed to reach the same heights in his second season at Stamford Bridge, but did bow out on a high note by winning the FA Cup. The former Juventus and Italy boss is now seen to be an outside bet for the Old Trafford hot-seat.

    Odds: 14/1

  • Massimiliano Allegri Juventus coach

    #6 Massimiliano Allegri

    As United began their hunt for Mourinho's successor, Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri was reported by ESPN to be keen on the role. However, the Italian has dismissed the links, insisting that he is doing "important things" with Juventus. Allegri has won Serie A titles with both AC Milan and the Old Lady, but his performance in the Champions League, where he guided Juve to two finals, adds even greater legitimacy to his claim for the United job. Indeed, he is even seen by some bookmakers to be more likely to land the job than his compatriot Conte.

    Odds: 6/1

  • Diego Simeone Atletico Madrid 2018-19

    #7 Diego Simeone

    Diego Simeone was linked with the Manchester United job last summer when the first rumblings of discontent were heard around Old Trafford. The Argentine's name has fallen away from the conversation since, but there is no doubting his credentials to resurrect United's fortunes.

    Under Simeone's leadership, Atletico Madrid have emerged as one of Europe's top clubs, reaching two Champions League finals and winning two Europa League titles, not to mention breaking the Real Madrid-Barcelona duopoly in La Liga back in 2014. Diego Godin, Antoine Griezmann and Jan Oblak have cemented their reputations as some of the best players in the world on Simeone's watch.

    Odds: 25/1

  • Eddie Howe Bournemouth

    #8 Eddie Howe

    The job that Eddie Howe has done at Bournemouth across his two spells as manager of the club has been impressive enough to see the Englishman thrust into the reckoning for the Manchester United job in the eyes of the bookmakers. The Cherries were in League One during the 2012-2013 season, but have transformed into Premier League regulars by Howe, who made club history in 2016-17 when he clinched a ninth-place finish - their highest ever league position.

    The difficulty for Howe, however, lies in the fact that he has no experience of managing a club the stature of Manchester United, with all its attendant needs and oddities. The Red Devils' hierarchy will be unwilling to take such a blatant risk after being burnt with their experience of David Moyes. That said, the appointment of Solskjaer - whose managerial CV is somewhat comparable - as interim boss suggests that it is possible.

    Odds: 16/1

  • Leonardo Jardim

    #9 Leonardo Jardim

    Former Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim is very much an outsider for the role of Manchester United manager, but the Portuguese could make a strong case for consideration, despite his relative inexperience at the highest level.

    Jardim's crowning glory came in 2017 when his swashbuckling Monaco side won the Ligue 1 title, finishing a remarkable eight points ahead of PSG. The likes of Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar emerged to prominence under his tutelage during that campaign, which also saw them reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.

    The team that Jardim built was subsequently torn asunder, with Europe's elite clubs seizing the best stars, and he struggled thereafter. If the Red Devils were to go with the 44-year-old, they would have to be prepared to be patient, which, after five different managers in as many seasons, is unlikely.

    Odds: 33/1

  • Nuno Espirito Santo Wolves 2018-19

    #10 Nuno Espirito Santo

    When speculation surrounding Mourinho's future began to heat up during the summer, Nuno Espirito Santo's name was one of a number held up as potential replacements. The Wolves boss dismissed the rumours as "nonsense" and said that he would ignore them, but he is still considered an outside bet by the bookmakers.

    The former Porto manager has made quite a name for himself at Molineux, guiding the team to Championship glory in his first term and he has them flying high in the Premier League, on course for survival in his second.

    Odds: 33/1

  • Carlo Ancelotti Napoli PSG press conference

    #11 Carlo Ancelotti

    With three Champions League titles and league championship medals from four different countries, Carlo Ancelotti is one of the most successful and widely respected coaches in the world. The Italian is currently Napoli's head coach, but he is considered an outsider for the Manchester United job.

    Ancelotti's Chelsea pipped Alex Ferguson's Manchester United to the Premier League title in 2010 and the former AC Milan boss' journey has since seen him win trophies with PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. His pedigree is without question, but United would represent a unique challenge for the 59-year-old. Having taken the reins at the San Paolo just last May, he and Napoli would need a significant offer.

    Odds: 40/1

  • Roberto Martinez Belgium 2018

    #12 Roberto Martinez

    From one team of Red Devils to another? Roberto Martinez steered Belgium to a third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and appears to have unfinished business, having only taken up the role in 2016. His current deal takes him up to 2020, but he would surely be tempted to return to club football if an offer from Manchester United came his way.

    With prior experience in the Premier League, Martinez knows English football well and his time at the helm of Belgium, working with some of the world's best players, has established him as one of Europe's top coaches. A particular plus can be found in the fact that the former Everton boss seems to be the man to get the best out of United striker Romelu Lukaku.

    Odds: 50/1

  • Didier Deschamps France World Cup champions 15072018

    #13 Didier Deschamps

    Having steered France to World Cup glory in 2018, Didier Deschamps is among a number of potential top-level candidates for the United job. The 50-year-old boasts vast experience and may be open to a new adventure after nearly seven years at the helm of Les Bleus.

    He led Monaco to the final of the Champions League in 2004 - where they were beaten by Mourinho's Porto - and has enjoyed spells at Juventus and Marseille, winning Ligue 1 in 2010 with the latter.

    Odds: 50/1

  • Ryan Giggs Wales 06092018

    #14 Ryan Giggs

    Some Manchester United fans may recoil at the thought of Ryan Giggs taking the reins of at Old Trafford after footage of a team-talk from his temporary 2014 tenure as manager went viral early last year. However, like Solskjaer, his achievements as a player ensure that he remains admired.

    Giggs is now managing Wales though and he has a European Championship qualifying campaign to gear up for this year so it seems unlikely. Indeed, when asked in the summer about whether or not he might take over from Mourinho, the Welshman told reporters: "No, I would keep my money in my pocket if I were you."

    Odds: 50/1

  • Marco Rose Red Bull Salzburg 2018-19

    #15 Marco Rose

    A left-field candidate for the Manchester United job emerged when the Sun reported that Red Bull Salzburg boss Marco Rose was in contention. According to the paper, the German coach is part of a five-man shortlist drawn up by the United board, alongside firmly established names such as Zidane, Blanc and Pochettino.

    Rose's performance with Salzburg in continental competitions in particular is reported to have played a big part in the club's admiration for his abilities. However, given his relative inexperience, the 42-year-old seems like an unlikely appointment.

    Odds: N/A