Manchester United's sacking of besieged boss Jose Mourinho came as a surprise to few, but those in the running to replace the Portuguese manager may raise a few eyebrows. RT Sport takes you through some potential replacements.
The club announced on Tuesday that they had parted ways with their under fire manager just two days after a 3-1 defeat to arch rivals Liverpool at Anfield left the club in 6th place in the Premier League table. A caretaker manager, believed to be coach and former player Michael Carrick, will take over training duties ahead for a permanent boss taking over until the end of the season.
While Mourinho's departure, after the club endured their worst start to a season in 28 years, was more a question of 'when' and not 'if', but there are plenty of rather large 'ifs' and 'buts' connected to the names of his potential replacements, with some familiar names, some baby faces and some old guards in the mix as well.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
The man whose tongue-twisting name is etched into United folklore for scoring the winning goal in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final to clinch an unprecedented treble for the team would be a welcome return to United in a coaching capacity.
It is reported that the Norwegian, who is currently coaching local team Molde in the countrys Eliteserien, is one of the options being considered to take over on a short-term basis, having won the Norwegian league title.
Solskjaer has coached at United before, leading the clubs all-conquering reserve team, before winning a Norwegian league and cup double with Molde. However, after initial success, the 45-year-old moved to Cardiff City, for disastrous 6 months in charge which ended with the Welsh club being relegated from the Premier League and after a poor start to life in the Championship, Solskjaer was relieved of his duties.
Lets face it – Zidane is the fantasy appointment United fans all want to see at Old Trafford. Perhaps the greatest midfielder of his generation, a simultaneous world and European champion as an international icon, scorer of one of the best goals in Champions League final history and an original Galactico.
The imperious heights of Zizous playing career is enough to place him in the company of the games all-time greats. Read the same for his managerial career.
Zidane worked his way up through Real Madrids coaching pyramid, taking a spell in charge of second string Castilla, and the becoming assistant manager under Carlo Ancelotti, before taking over on a permanent basis following the dismissal of Rafael Benitez.
From there he became the only manager in history to win three consecutive European Cups when he guided his Madrid side to Champions League success in successive finals in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
With such pedigree in the game at all levels, it seems like Zidane would be the logical replacement for Mourinho, and that's why he is 2nd favorite to take over, but most would argue his lack of experience in English football is too much of a minus to overlook.
Real and United's structures are also starkly different, with the Spanish club being home to a range of world stars already, including Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric, and the Los Blancos board willing to spend big on star names, whereas Mourinho was constantly denied his desired signings at United.
A classy defender brought to United perhaps 5 years too late during his playing days, and also, like Zidane, a World Cup winner with the French national team, Blanc has carried his measured reading of the game into the coaching ranks.
The favorite to get the job on a full time basis in the summer, Blanc has carved out a solid resume in his first three managerial positions, first winning a Ligue 1 title with Bordeaux before taking the reins of Les Blues from 2010 to 2012 before winning his second French title with a second different club with PSG, the first of three in a row.
Blanc has scooped multiple Ligue 1 Manager of the Year and French Manager of the Year titles individually while in two different roles, but has not been in football management since 2016, certainly making the vacant United job an attractive stepping stone back in to football.
Fans would perhaps groan at the prospect of hiring another sacked Chelsea manager being appointed to the hot seat, but Antonio Contes time in charge of the West London, saw him win the League in his first season and the besting Mourinhos United in the FA Cup final a year later.
Conte was sacked after a disappointing season following that cup win, but few have managed to stay on the bucking bronco that is the Chelsea managerial job. Mourinho knows that all too well. The club appointed 13 temporary or permanent coaches since his departure from his first tenure 11 years ago.
Although hugely unpopular in the Chelsea dressing room, Conte did coach Paul Pogba at Juventus, where the Frenchman has had his best days at club level, but that would perhaps be the only change – however stark – he would bring from Mourinhos lineage.
Surely it cant be that the figurehead of one of Uniteds most despised rivals for over a decade can take over at Old Trafford? The Frenchman has been looking for a road back into football since stepping down as Arsenal manager this summer.
German giants Bayern Munich have been mooted as a potential destination but football, just as life, can sometimes be stranger than fiction, and what a story it would be if Wenger could steer United to stability after riding choppy waves at the very end of his Arsenal career.
It wouldnt be all plain sailing with Wenger at the helm, as his rivalry with United and in particular former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, was the subject of fierce media attention and was even the concept of a recent documentary detailing their famous flare ups on and off the pitch.
Will the general of The Battle of Old Trafford return to lead the fallen empire of United? Its probable, but unlikely.