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Ranking the favourites to become the next Manchester United manager

Manchester United could join the long list of clubs searching for a new head coach this summer with Erik ten Hag’s position under real threat.

The Red Devils could miss out on European qualification for next season and have suffered a club-record 14 league defeats in a single Premier League campaign, with question marks over Ten Hag’s ability to bring the best from an underperforming squad.

A 4-0 defeat at Crystal Palace was another low in a season of setbacks, and the club’s new hierarchy could decide on change at the end of the campaign.

We’ve decided to look at the names in the frame to replace Ten Hag should he leave, with the five favourites to become the next Manchester United manager.

Zinedine Zidane – 11/1

Zinedine Zidane continues to be out of work, having called time on his second spell at Real Madrid in 2021.

The Frenchman remains untested outside of Real Madrid, though his body of work with the Spanish giants is some reading. He is the only manager in history to have won the European Cup/Champions League in three consecutive seasons, while his records include the longest unbeaten run in Real Madrid and Spanish football history (40 games).

The 51-year-old won 11 trophies in just 263 games across all competitions but has been patient over a potential return to the game. Asked last week about the impending vacancy at Bayern Munich, Zidane dismissed suggestions he could take over.

“No [I will not be taking over]. I am going to watch the game [the second leg of Bayern’s Champions League semi-final against Real]. I hope Madrid wins but it is going to be a difficult and complicated match,” he told Sky Germany.

Roberto De Zerbi – 11/1

Roberto De Zerbi’s stock might have fallen slightly this season but the Italian remains an intriguing option for top clubs. Last season, he led Brighton into European competition for the first time in their history with a top-six finish in the Premier League, achieved with an ambitious and bold brand of football.

Brighton rank fourth in the Premier League for average possession (61%) and second for pass accuracy (89%) behind Manchester City, while only the top three have averaged more shots on target per game (5.7) than the Seagulls.

De Zerbi’s style is clear and defined, something that has not been the case for Manchester United under the current regime. The 44-year-old might feel ready to take his fluid philosophy to a bigger stage.

Graham Potter – 5/1

Graham Potter is another who has taken a patient return to management, turning down several opportunities after a short-lived spell at Chelsea. The 48-year-old built an impressive reputation at Brighton before crossing to Chelsea, though failed to last a single season as he was sacked in April 2023.

Given the struggles of successors Frank Lampard and Mauricio Pochettino at Stamford Bridge since, his time in West London was perhaps not the catastrophe pictured upon his exit.

It would be a huge risk with Potter having failed to reestablish his credentials since leaving Chelsea, but he is a coach Dan Ashworth – Manchester United’s soon-to-be sporting director – knows well.

Ajax have also been linked.

Gareth Southgate – 3/1

Gareth Southgate is another candidate that Ashworth is open to, having worked alongside the England manager during his time as the FA director of elite development.

Southgate is set to leave England after this summer’s European Championship with the expectation that the 53-year-old will step down regardless of performance at the tournament. England’s most successful manager since Alf Ramsey, Southgate has led the Three Lions to a World Cup semi-final and European Championship final since taking charge in 2016.

The caveat, of course, is that England possess one of the strongest squads in international football and some have suggested Southgate has held back, rather than enhanced, the talent at his disposal with a pragmatic approach.

However, his leadership qualities are said to be highly respected at Old Trafford, having united an England squad that had been divided under past regimes. So much so, that United could offer him a first role in club football for over a decade.

Thomas Tuchel – 6/4

Thomas Tuchel is the current frontrunner for the role as he prepares to leave Bayern Munich at the end of the campaign.

A mutual decision has been made for the German to depart after Bayern’s first season without silverware since 2011/12. Even amid that disappointment, Tuchel will be one of the most high-profile managers available in the summer.

The 50-year-old has won major trophies in three different countries and has led both PSG and Chelsea to Champions League finals, winning with the latter in 2021. He has proven his ability to manage big names in the dressing room, though has occasionally endured fractious relationships with those above him in the boardroom.

Read – Premier League awards: Biggest nominee omissions in 2023/24

See more – The players with the most Champions League final appearances

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