There had been signs of Jose Mourinho’s demise as Manchester United manager, but none quite as stark as Sunday’s defeat to Brighton. For all that has darkened the mood at the club over the summer, this felt like a watershed moment, a point of no return for the Portuguese coach at Old Trafford. It’s difficult to envisage how he can possibly reverse the narrative.

Now, with most writing off Mourinho, talk has turned to potential candidates to replace him. Mauricio Pochettino is one name consistently mentioned, but with Real Madrid failing to prise him from the grips of Spurs in the summer it seems unlikely that the Argentinean will be leaving North London any time soon.

Then there’s Max Allegri, the Juventus boss who has long been linked with a switch to the Premier League. Had an approach been made at the end of last season, United might well have stood a chance of luring the Italian, with Allegri admitting that he would evaluate his future. But with Cristiano Ronaldo now in Turin and Juve among the favourites to win this season’s Champions League, Allegri is another who would surely be beyond Man Utd’s reach.

Zinedine Zidane, however, is an intriguing proposition. Reports surfaced last week that the former Real Madrid manager, the winner of three Champions League titles in back-to-back seasons, would be willing to take over at Manchester United, with the Frenchman looking for a return to management in the not so distant future.

It might be difficult to imagine Zidane standing on the Old Trafford touchline, but he could be the perfect fit. Man Utd need a man manager to get the best from their talented, yet under-utilised, squad and Zidane is exactly that. He thrived at Real Madrid by getting the best out of the squad he inherited. He would walk into a similar situation at United to the one did at Real Madrid in the winter of 2016.

What’s more, the Man Utd job would give Zidane the chance to prove he can cut it as a manager outside of Spain, outside of the Santiago Bernabeu – the place he made his cathedral over 12 years as a player and a coach. Even after such success in the Champions League and La Liga, there are some who still doubt Zidane’s credentials and so a Premier League stint would give the chance to quell those doubts forever.

Despite Sunday’s defeat to Brighton, Mourinho reportedly still retains the backing of his employers. But Zidane’s availability presents Man Utd with an intriguing alternative. He might not be a quick fix, but it’s difficult to argue that Mourinho is better qualified for the Old Trafford job than the former Real Madrid boss.

Zinedine Zidane 

Antonio Conte   

Mauricio Pochettino

Odds are correct at the time of posting

Join the discussion