Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino might be the odds-on favourite to take over at Manchester United, but what about those names lurking just under the radar.

2021-11-23
Enrique, Ten Hag, Simeone – the big price outsiders who could take the Manchester United hot seat

We’ve been down this ‘odds-on’ favourite road several times already this season. Unai Emery, Paulo Fonseca and Antonio Conte were all odds-on favourites for the Newcastle role. Frank Lampard was nailed on at Norwich and Nuno was ‘definitely’ joining Everton before Rafa Benitez strolled back into Merseyside.

Actually come to think of it, Fonseca has been odds-on favourite at most vacant roles across the UK this season. Apart from at Old Trafford, where he cruelly lurks down at 66/1 for the Manchester United job. What’s he suddenly done wrong?

Simply put, just because ‘Poch’ appears to be the chosen one at Old Trafford it doesn’t mean he will sail into the red side of Manchester before anyone has a chance to say…’hey, he’s actually not that good’.

So while the Manchester United big cheeses take a few weeks to work out that Pochettino specialises in being a runner-up, the time is ripe to pounce on one of the value outsiders. Planet Sport assesses their chances.

Erik ten Hag

Ajax boss Erik Ten Hag

The manager who always takes the big jobs in your Football Manager save, but you wouldn’t recognise if he offered to buy you a mug of coffee.

The 51-year-old, who has been in charge at the Johan Cruyff Arena for almost four years, is always linked with the big jobs.

There’s no doubt he’s storming it in the Netherlands, but would moving to Old Trafford be too big a step?

Bar a two-year spell as Bayern Munich reserves manager, his experience is very, very Dutch. A blood and thunder clash with Willem II probably doesn’t compare with a wet and windy Tuesday night in Stoke…damn it what’s the 2021/22 equivalent…er Burnley.

Can you cut a Tuesday night in Burnley, Erik?

Laurent Blanc

Laurent Blanc

Laurent ‘always 12/1’ Blanc appears on every vacant manager market and never shortens or drifts. There he is always just lurking outside the top five.

Blanc ended his playing career with Manchester United, so will automatically have the ‘oh, he really understands the club’ phrase chucked at him.

Let’s ignore the fact he rocked up at Old Trafford as a 35-year-old looking for a final pay day and his performances hardly ripped up any trees.

As a manager, Blanc won the league with Bordeaux and Paris Saint-Germain, but failed to claim the Champions League. And we all know that always spells the end of the road for any PSG manager.

After a four-year gap in his managerial career, Blanc took over as head coach at Al-Rayyan Sports Club in Qatar and vanished into the soccer wilderness, with only his bank account to keep him company.

Luis Enrique

Spain manager Luis Enrique

The current Spain manager is reportedly the choice of Ronaldo, and his opinion is obviously very important.

Keeping the star player onside seems like an important first job for any new boss, so Enrique would be a great choice, even if he does dress like he’s just popping out to meet a friend in a local wine bar.

The only problem is Enrique has already rubbished the move, telling the Spanish media “Is it April Fools’ Day.”

Expect his odds to continue to shorten every time Ronaldo mentions him or Spain have a bad game.

Diego Simeone

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone

Our dark horse. Simeone has been at Atletico Madrid for ten years and, apart from the Champions League, he has won everything he can. Even this stoic individual must be hankering for a change of scenery by now.

Ok, he has no links with any Premier League club, he has just signed a three-year extension to his contract and is considered a legend by Atletico Madrid. A tough man to budge perhaps.

However, Simeone is just the kind of man who might be up for a challenge and he’s just the kind of manager Manchester United need – someone to bend them over his knee and give them a good smack across the bottom.

Hang on…weren’t Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho meant to do that.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson

This would be the story of all stories. The old master returns to pick up the pieces of the broken club he left in 2013, and leads them to a bit of silverware as an added bonus.

Every time United get into bother on the pitch, the cameras cut to Ferguson in the crowd muttering under his breath or daydreaming about who he’d like to throttle next.

United have announced they are looking for an interim manager until the end of season, so would it be so bonkers if Fergie was rolled out for half a season?

His heart is all fixed, he clearly would do better than anyone else on this list and his legacy would remain intact even if they did finish seventh.

He would certainly stop Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof bumping into each other every match.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo’s odds seem to be lengthening by the day. He was 20/1 not two weeks ago. Now ‘I’ve not had a proper manager job ever’ Nicky Butt appears to be more appealing for the bookies at 60/1!

Ronaldo seems like an obvious choice. He’s a superstar, he’s clearly the main focus of power in the dressing room, he’ll have the fans’ backing and his ‘give the ball to me tactic’ will probably work at least 60% of the time.

United gave the interim role to club legend Ryan Giggs a few years ago and look where that got him…oh sorry ignore that.

Read more on Planet Sport: Desperate Pochettino now clear favourite with bookies to take over at a desperate Manchester United

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