“We had a virus that infected everyone at United. It was called winning.”
Sir Alex Ferguson
It has been the best part of a decade since the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson retired from his role as Manchester United manager. It was obvious then that the club would face an uphill battle to remain at the very top of English Football.
The squad was ageing with many first team players entering the latter part of their careers, while much of the rest of the squad was never capable of reaching the level that their predecessors had reached.
A look at the 2012-2013 first-team squad will quickly reveal that only David De Gea, Patrice Evra, Jonny Evans and Ashley Young went on to win major silverware following that title-winning season. The rest of the squad either retired from football soon after or have since found themselves playing with clubs that are not expected to challenge for major honours.
Looking at this now it is perhaps understandable that David Moyes was unable to maintain the levels that Sir Alex had set the season prior. It was always going to take time and significant financial resources to keep the club competitive at the top of European football.
Since that time, almost 9 years have passed and Manchester United don’t seem to be much closer to challenging for the Premier League title. Legends of the game like Luis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have passed through the doors with limited success. Both were able to secure trophies in cup competition, however, a serious challenge for the league title has never come to fruition.
Both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jose Mourinho were able to achieve second-place finishes in the league and although this was impressive they remained some way off top spot. In both cases, the club faltered in the following season and both were relieved of their duties.
As of right now, the Red Devils find themselves in an unenviable position. When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was relieved of his position the team were showing some alarming statistics. They found themselves ranked last in the Premier League in the number of total tackles and the number of duels won. Aside from this, the club ranked in the bottom three for the number of interceptions made. The team simply didn’t press effectively and seemed to be suffering as a result.
Looking at that it perhaps makes sense that Manchester United approached Ralf Ragnick, a man lauded as the father of the modern gegenpressing style that we see from teams like Liverpool today. This, however, is a temporary appointment. Manchester United have stated that the current plan is for Ralf Ragnick to move towards a more senior position at the club and that they are looking to appoint a new manager to take the club into the 2022-2023 campaign. It is still possible that Ralf Ragnick himself is that man but that is looking increasingly unlikely.
There hasn’t been the new manager bounce that the club was hoping for and it has been widely reported that there are many unhappy players at the club, some of which have even been reported to question Ragnick’s training methods. So who might Manchester United turn to? Here are five potential options.
What a season it has been so far for the former Östersund boss. His Brighton side finds themselves in the top half of the table and only six points off of Manchester United with 21 games played. In that time they have played some of the most exciting football in the league while also remaining defensively responsible.
This season they have recorded draws with Arsenal, Liverpool, and Chelsea on two occasions. Aside from this Brighton have recorded some excellent stats this season. They find themselves top of the Premier League for the number of tackles made and are second in the league for the percentage of successful pressures per 90 minutes played. This puts Brighton only behind Liverpool and shows the Englishman has the willingness to play modern pressing football, thus making him an excellent candidate to work with Ragnick next season.
An obvious negative of this appointment is the lack of silverware that Potter has amassed in his 10-year managerial career. In this time Potter has won three pieces of silverware, each of which was in Sweden with Östersund. It can also be said that compared to the other managers on this list Potter has the lowest winning percentage of 43.7% however, it is worth noting that his competition in this list have all managed larger clubs and have an advantage in this regard. Nonetheless, Graham Potters lack of trophies may hinder his chances of being considered for such a massive job.
From one manager without a history of silverware to a manager who has a World Cup to his name. Didier Deschamps is a manager who most certainly does not lack prestige having won trophies in France, Italy and obviously at the International level. In total Deschamps has 10 trophies to his name and boasts an excellent winning percentage of 54.09% across his managerial career.
The Frenchman also comes pre-packaged with a successful relationship with Manchester United’s enigmatic midfielder Paul Pogba. Some of the best managers in world football have tried and failed to get the best out of Pogba but Deschamps has proven he is capable of this. Perhaps his signing on a pre-contract agreement would convince Pogba to stay at the club instead of leaving when his contract expires at the end of this season.
Deschamps is currently still Managing the French National Team and will be preparing for the World Cup in Qatar this winter. If Manchester United are to appoint the Frenchman then they will likely have to wait until the second half of next season.
Erik ten Hag
Similarly to Didier Deschamps, Erik ten Hag comes pre-packaged with a good relationship with an out of sorts Manchester United midfielder. Donny Van de Beek was excellent under the Dutchman as Ajax romped to an Ederdivise title and the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. An outstanding achievement that many neutrals will remember with fondness for years to come. The really impressive feat, however, is that despite selling so many star players the Ajax manager has rebuilt his side and they continue to dominate Dutch football. Not only that they have recorded some excellent results in the Champions League this season. Most notably beating Borussia Dortmund home and away on their way to winning all six group stage games. Erik Ten Hag has 5 trophies to his name as a manager and boasts an outstanding win percentage of 63.70%.
His appointment would signify a willingness from the Red Devils to build a long term project and it would be smart for them to do so.
The former Liverpool boss might not be the candidate that Manchester United fans want to see walk through the doors of Old Trafford but he might be the candidate that they need. Brendan Rodgers is a student of the game with an uncompromising attacking style. The Nothern Ireland man is known for his ability to squeeze the best out of his players and that is a trait that should excite Manchester United more than any. United have an abundance of excellent players who have yet to reach their potential and this seemingly would suit Rodgers down to the ground.
The current Leicester City boss was excruciatingly close to winning the Premier League with Liverpool and on two occasions getting Leicester back into the top four. He has had a huge amount of success in his managerial career with 10 trophies to his name and a good win percentage of 53.3%. He has an FA Cup to his name and also boasts a completely undefeated domestic season with Celtic. That is a unique achievement that shows Rodgers can handle the pressure of a team that is expected to win every game.
With his Leicester side showing its limitations this season it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be tempted to try his hand again with a massive club and Manchester United would certainly fit that bill.
The second man on this list that managed one of Manchester United’s rival clubs but in this case, the fans may make an exception. Roberto Mancini is truly a world-class manager. Like Deschamps, he will be leading his national side into a mid-season World Cup. So if Manchester United wants him they will likely have to delay their appointment until then. That might just be worth it as not only is Roberto Mancini a proven winner he is also a favorite of Cristiano Ronaldo.
At the Recent FIFA Rewards Ceremony Ronaldo voted for the Italian when opting for who he believes to be the best manager in world football. If that is the case then it looks as if the influential striker has given us a hint of who he’d like to see in the role. Who can argue with him? Mancini has an impressive trophy haul of 14 including the coveted Premier League title and also has a winning percentage of 54.77%.
Should Roberto Mancini wish to try his hand at another major European club then Manchester United would be sensible to hand the reigns to a proven winner.
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