Erik ten Hag is under pressure at Manchester United after a dismal start to the new season, with consecutive home humblings to Manchester City and Newcastle having increased the pressure on his position.
The Dutchman led the Red Devils to a largely positive first season as the club claimed Carabao Cup success and Champions League qualification, but the opening months of 2023/24 have been a disaster. It’s now nine defeats from 15 games in all competitions, with mounting pressure on Ten Hag to turn the club’s fortunes – and results – around.
Should the Dutchman depart, United will be seeking a sixth permanent manager since Sir Alex Ferguson retired a decade ago. But who could be in the frame? We’ve looked at five potential successors.
Five names who could replace Erik ten Hag at Manchester United:
Ruben Amorim has been regularly linked with Premier League vacancies in recent transfer windows, with Chelsea and Spurs each said to have considered the Sporting Lisbon head coach.
Amorim led Sporting to a Primeira Liga and Taça da Liga double in 2020/21 – the club’s first Portuguese league title in 19 years – before retaining the latter trophy last season.
Amorim’s arrival would lead to change at Manchester United, with the 38-year-old having favoured an adaptable back-three system with wing-backs who provide width. His flexible 3-4-3 uses a narrow front three who press intensely from the front, with a focus on crowding central areas.
The Portuguese coach has a reported release clause of €10m (£8.7m) in his contract in Lisbon, but has talked down speculation linking him with Old Trafford this week.
“Regarding the future, I have an idea for the end of the season but I won’t say it now,” Amorim said after Sporting beat Farense 4-2 on Thursday.
“But the results and the context take us to something different. I don’t want to be commenting on these things. I have not been contacted by Manchester United. I’m not going to be commenting on that. I will respect the contract, everything that is there will be fulfilled.”
Julen Lopetegui walked out on Wolves on the eve of the Premier League season, with the Spaniard having quit the club over a lack of backing from the board. Lopetegui’s exit was a bitter blow for Wolves who had worked hard to tempt the ex-Real Madrid and Spain coach to English football.
The 57-year-old has a wealth of experience in high-profile positions and has made clear his desire for a second opportunity in the Premier League.
“My wife and I are trying to take advantage of our free time,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live after revealing he was still living in England after leaving Wolves.
“We want to know more about the culture of England and we love the history. We have visited a lot of cities and will continue. At the weekend, I try to see different matches and be aware of what is happening the Premier League. We are very happy here and I have the ambition to stay here for longer.”
Could Manchester United move for a coach well-versed in the demands – and difficulties – of the manager’s position?
Carrick spent more than decade with the club as a player before spending time on the coaching staff under Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford.
The 42-year-old departed the Red Devils in 2021 and took his first senior position with Middlesbrough in October 2022. The North East side were in the Championship’s relegation places at the time of his appointment, but an upturn under Carrick saw ‘Boro reach the second-tier play-offs last season.
Michael Carrick’s Middlesbrough has won eight of their last nine matches in all competitions:
Boro advance to the Quarter Finals! 🦁🔴 pic.twitter.com/iTKdVH0XuE
— StatmanJames (@JamesStatman) October 31, 2023
Middlesbrough started the current season in poor form after losing Chuba Akpom and loanees Cameron Archer and Aaron Ramsey during the summer, but have won six of their last seven games to move within three points of the play-offs.
Talk about a name to put the cat among the pigeons, the arrival of Diego Simeone into the Premier League would be box-office viewing.
Simeone has spent 12 years with Atletico Madrid, a period which has seen the Argentine lead the Spanish side to two La Liga titles, two Champions League finals, two Europa League trophies and the Copa del Rey among his honours.
The 53-year-old built his reputation on the combative defensive approach that defined his playing career, but Atletico have evolved under Simeone. No longer a team determined to shithouse their way to narrow 1-0 wins and grind out results, the current version of Atleti are free-scoring and Spain’s leading goal threat.
450 – Foreign coaches with most games managed in @LaLigaEN history:
488 – Ferdinand Daucik 🇸🇰
480 – JB Toshack 🏴
457 – Manuel Pellegrini 🇨🇱
450 – DIEGO SIMEONE 🇦🇷
439 – Javier Aguirre 🇲🇽
Legendaries. 🎩 pic.twitter.com/BbqOfNcOia
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 30, 2023
Only two teams in Europe’s top five leagues have outscored Atletico in 2023, while no team in La Liga has picked up more points this calendar year. The move to a 5-3-2 has turned Atletico into a forward force, with the rigid 4-4-2 now gone.
Simeone has shown he is willing to – and capable of – change, while there’s little doubt the Argentine boasts a will-to-win that could cause carnage in the Premier League. Manchester United’s current squad have been accused of lacking fight under recent regimes. Simeone would not stand for that.
Perhaps the biggest name head coach currently unattached to a club, Zinedine Zidane continues to be tentatively linked with Premier League positions. The Frenchman has shown a reluctance to move to England given his lack of English, but Marcelo Bielsa is among the coaches to have shown that language barriers can be navigated to have success in the Premier League.
Zidane has been out of work since leaving his second spell at Real Madrid and has been patient in assessing his next move, with links to Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and the French national team failing to materialise in a return to the dugout.
Zinedine Zidane to Manchester United.
Discuss 👇 pic.twitter.com/v3ARw4UhMR
— GOAL (@goal) November 3, 2023
The 51-year-old remains an enigma in management, given he is unproven outside of the Spanish capital. 11 trophies and a number of records, including the longest unbeaten run in Spanish football history (40 games) and the first coach to win three consecutive European Cup/Champions League trophies mean Zidane would be worth the gamble. Given his pedigree, both as player and coach, he would command instant respect inside the dressing room.