Standing on the precipice of another major crossroads has seemingly become a hobby in this vintage of Manchester United, but the process of hiring Sir Alex Ferguson’s fifth successor could prove to be the most precarious of them all.
A break from football until 2 April offers United time to pick through the debris of a fifth trophyless year – the club’s longest silverware drought in 40 years – following another early exit from the Champions League. The managerial decision will no doubt be at the heart of all conversations.
Any United fan would relish the chance to dictate that better decision. Fans have not been coy in charging United’s next gaffer with hefty expectations, not least a general consensus that fights for fourth-place finishes should be well archived.
As the big decision becomes imminent, we want to know from Manchester United fans who they believe the club should hire once interim manager Ralf Rangnick takes up his consultancy role at the end of the season.
Ajax coach Erik Ten Hag is the club’s preferred option, though the club’s short-list also includes Paris Saint-Germain’s Mauricio Pochettino, Spanish coaches Luis Enrique and Julen Lopetegui, Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone, the combative Argentine who found himself the moving target for some angry fans’ drinks after his streetwise side provided the death knell to United’s Champions League journey.
If you’re Gary Neville and Roy Keane, it is Simeone’s services for whom United should be breaking the bank.
The chances of pulling Tuchel away from Chelsea are remote given the German’s vocal affection towards the club dovetailed with a prohibitive length on his contact. Enrique’s services face a similar improbability given Spain’s position in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in November and United’s desire to bring in a manager at the season’s end.
Pochettino’s failure to supply PSG with its elusive Champions League dream means the 50-year-old is expected to depart the Parisian club at the end of the season, opening the door for a United move.
Recent behind the scenes hirings by Ajax also hint that Ten Hag’s tenure at the club is reaching its end, with the 52-year-old’s side having fallen to Benfica in their Champions League bid and a change in command brewing.
Fans have pointed to both managers’ recent European collapses as CV shortfalls, but the two men continue to be the standouts for the big gig.
Whom Manchester United select to lead the club through the summer’s inevitable wholesale changes will prove crucial. Returning United to once-storied heights and eclipsing a near-decade of underwhelming showings that have been exacerbated by the consistent successes of rivals Liverpool and Manchester City will not be simple requirements for any new manager.
And as the 2021/22 season wraps up, we want to know who you think should be appointed as the Reds’ next boss.
Simply fill in the survey below to make your selection, and debate the options in the comments here.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.