Zidane, Pochettino & possible Mourinho replacements


With the Portuguese having been sacked in the wake of Sunday’s humiliating loss at Liverpool, Goal looks at his possible replacements at Old Trafford.

The timing of Manchester United’s announcement of Jose Mourinho’s sacking may have caught everyone by surprise but the decision itself most certainly did not.

Sunday’s embarrassingly one-sided loss to bitter rivals Liverpool highlighted just how far behind the Premier League’s elite the Red Devils have fallen this season.

It had been thought that Mourinho would be given until the spring to turn things around but with the Anfield debacle having left United 11 points off fourth place, the Glazer family have decided to act.


The favourite, both with the bookies and United’s disgruntled supporters, is Zinedine Zidane.

The Frenchman stood down as Real Madrid boss after leading the Spanish side to a third consecutive Champions League triumph with a 3-1 victory over Liverpool in May.

Despite his remarkable record in European competition, there are those that remain unconvinced by the former France international’s coaching ability, with the argument being that he is tactically limited and also little more than a cup specialist.

However, such an attitude does Zidane a huge disservice, given he also won La Liga in 2016-17 and showed a willingness to experiment more and take greater risks with different formations during his final season at the Santiago Bernabeu, utilising the likes of Marcos Asensio and Lucas Vazquez to excellent effect, most notably against Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes.

There is no denying, though, that the most impressive aspect of his Real reign was the way in which he successfully managed a group of superstars, maintaining harmony in a dressing-room of massive egos and also rotating Cristiano Ronaldo regularly and effectively.

One would imagine that one of the most revered figures in world football would have an even bigger impact upon on a United side that, despite Mourinho’s protestations to the contrary, has been lacking in unity and confidence since the start of the season.


“For every single manager who is younger than him, he was an inspiration,” Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said of Jose Mourinho earlier this season. “For everyone. I took a lot of things from him. So many things.”

It has is now evident that the student has become the master. Indeed, many have believed for some time that United erred badly by picking Mourinho rather than Pochettino to succeed Louis van Gaal as coach in 2016.

By that stage, it was already abundantly obvious that the Argentine was one of the best young coaches in the game.

Of course, the critics will point to the fact that Pochettino has yet to win a trophy of any note in north London but it is worth remembering that he took over a club in disarray and now has Tottenham competing and starring in the Champions League.

Indeed, anybody who witnessed their victory over Real Madrid last season could not have been anything but impressed by the style and swagger of the display.

It was a similar story at Old Trafford in August, with Pochettino making a mockery of Mourinho’s constant moaning about Ed Woodward’s parsimony by beating United 3-0 with a squad that wasn’t strengthened by a single summer signing.

The contrast between the pair, both in terms of style and personality, is stark and it is difficult not to conclude that Pochettino would get more out of United’s players than Mourinho.

The big question is, though: would he really want to swap Spurs for United right now?…


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