OTB look at the runners and riders for the Manchester United gig after Mou's departure

This one feels different. Manchester United fans, and a curious public, have witnessed three unceremonious departures since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in May 2013. What was once unthinkable is the reality - the revolving door is picking up pace, and Jose Mourinho is the latest to the sharp end of Ed Woodward's hobnails.

Off The Ball spoke to Spanish football aficionado Graham Hunter, as well as OTB's Nathan Murphy and Phil Egan to discern who will be the next through the door, as United struggle to stay relevant in a league where both the biggest and smallest have leapt ahead of them in their managerial structures.

Mauricio Pochettino

The name on almost everyone's lips regarding the long-term appointment is Spurs' current manager. But Pochettino's link with this job comes amid a great deal of personal and financial uncertainty. Tottenham's manager has presided over one of the best starts to a Premier League season, despite signing no players in the summer. He has been on record with his irritation over Levy's parsimony - whether this is a situation where the love for the club overrides the bumps in the road remains to be seen.

Sir Alex Ferguson has been a long-time admirer of Pochettino's playing style and attitude to the game, but - perilously for United - so has Florentino Perez. If Pochettino makes clear a private desire to move, then the waters will be sufficiently chummed for Perez to strike.

In the meantime, United would do well to get in place a structure within which Pochettino could work. A director of football is desperately needed to oversee footballing operations and acquisitions that have sadly fallen behind the commercial partnerships at the club. If United get that right, along with the money for both the Argentine and his current club, they may prevail.

 

Zinedine Zidane

Zidane has been linked so often with United that it seems in the mindset of some fans that his appointment would be both undoubtedly beneficial and something that he wants. The arguments are simple: he is footballing royalty, with a managerial record that is as glittering as it is short. A penny for Ferguson's thoughts when Zizou challenges Fergie to a Champions League-measuring contest.

There is some logic beside the sentiment, as Zidane galvanised a dysfunctional Real Madrid team to go on and win 3 European Cups. However, he saw the iceberg at the Bernabeu as clearly as anyone, meaning someone with his ability to see a situation as its constituent parts may think United best left to someone else.

Thoughts of a short-term appointment of Zidane are the fevered dream of a generation of United fans baited by transfer rumour and conjecture.

 

Diego Simeone

No managerial list of elite jobs would be complete without Simeone, but the reality is that Manchester United are unlikely to want him, nor will he want to come. Simeone has built a legacy at Atletico Madrid that implores others to link him away, but the club has been made in his image for nearly a decade - oversight he would not get at United. 

Simeone has, according to Graham Hunter, tried to learn English and decided that this is not for him. Both parties would be unlikely to want to sign onto a situation where communication has already broken down between manager and squad, albeit for different reasons.

 

Gareth Southgate

If he wasn't onto such a winner with England, there might be a great deal of sense for United to approach Southgate - perhaps less for him to take it. He tallies perfectly with the club's philosophy of blooding and coaching young players (as Lingard and Rashford will attest); plays modern, attacking football and manages up as well as he does down.

The reality is that Southgate is in a position as England manager that has been rarely seen since Sir Alf Ramsay. The pace of international management suits Southgate as he appears to take as much time and care with the big picture aspect of the England role, in identifying structural and operational improvements. 

 

Arsene Wenger

In some ways, a short stint makes a lot of sense. See through a broken squad until the end of the season, with the knowledge that the parting of the ways is near. Try to get the squad harmony back with a bit of tender loving care, and playing with a little more elan and in a much less stilted way.

Smalling and Jones under Arsene, though.

Good Christ.

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