Four outside-the-box shouts for the Manchester United job
With pressure building on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following Manchester United’s disasterclass against Liverpool on Sunday, speculation surrounding the Norwegian and his future at Old Trafford has been rife in the media.
While the likes of Antonio Conte (8/11) and Zinedine Zidane (9/1) are the current front-runners in the betting due to their vast experience of managing a changing room packed full of superstars, here The Sack Race takes a look at four outside-the-box managers who could potentially change the dynamic at the club.
Graham Potter (50/1)
Brighton manager Graham Potter is making headway at the Amex and is quickly becoming one of - if not the - most exciting British coach in world football. After cutting his teeth in the managerial game with Swedish side Ostersund, where he guided the club to three promotions alongside the knockout stages of the 2017-18 Europa League, the 46-year-old earned a move to Swansea in 2018 before taking charge of Brighton a year later.
Potter’s managerial style is heavily-based on possession and keeping the ball. Last season his Brighton side ranked fourth in the Premier League for xG (expected goals), which highlighted just how many chances they were creating in the final third. Unfortunately, they massively struggled to convert those chances into goals and ended the campaign in a relegation battle, eventually finishing 16th and finding the net just 40 times.
So far this season, though, Potter has seemingly rectified those issues and the Seagulls sit fifth in the top-flight having lost just two of their opening nine league games, conceding only nine goals (seven fewer than United). There is no doubt that the Brighton manager would implement an exciting style of play at United and certainly get the team playing in a more organised way, whilst also maximising the output from their ultra-talented attacking personnel.
However, huge question marks remain over whether he would have the ability to manage the amount of egos at Old Trafford given he is still relatively young and inexperienced, and each of his positions thus far have come in much more modest surroundings. One for the future, perhaps, with a role at someone like Tottenham or Leicester probably more beneficial at this stage of his developing career.
Marcelo Gallardo (no odds yet)
One of the most exciting prospects is Marcelo Gallardo, current boss of Argentinian powerhouses River Plate. There is a strong chance that you may not have even heard of the 45-year-old, so let me summarise his achievements and why he could be a suitable candidate for the United job should Solskjaer receive his marching orders.
Gallardo has resided in the River Plate hotset for the previous seven years, initially taking charge of the club where he spent the majority of his playing career in 2014. In that time he has achieved great success, winning two Copa Libertadores’ and three Copa Argentinas.
Somewhat amazingly, he is yet to win the league in his native country, although this season his River Plate side sit top of the pile in the first tier - nine points ahead of second-placed Talleres Córdoba, and 12 ahead of fierce rivals Boca Juniors after 18 games.
The South American is not short of high-profile admirers, either. In 2019, Pep Guardiola was emphatic in his praise on Argentine television.
“What Gallardo has done with River is incredible,” the City boss said. “Every year three coaches are named as the best in the world, and he’s never among them.
“I can’t understand it. It’s as if there’s nothing else in the world apart from Europe.”
Gallardo - who has previously been touted for the Barcelona job - would be a left-field choice, that much is clear, but with his contract at River expiring in December, there is the potential for United to swoop in and capture one of the most exciting young managers in world football for nothing in the coming months.
With his record at River considered, it is hard to imagine that Gallardo will not eventually make his mark abroad; whether that could be at Old Trafford is a different question altogether, though.
Thomas Frank (66/1)
Much like Potter, Brentford manager Thomas Frank is also an interesting proposition. The Dane is 66/1 to be the next United boss, and while his experience with managing global superstars is somewhat non-existent at this point - his CV reading Brondby IF, Denmark U19s and Brentford up until this point - he does have a really strong identity and could implement an exciting style of play at the club.
Brentford have the sixth-best defence in the Premier League this season having shipped just nine goals, while their xG rating of 13.82 means that they are seventh-best team for chance creation in the top-flight so far. With more resources to hand, one can only imagine the potential success Frank could enjoy in the north-west.
Ernesto Valverde (100/1)
Some will say I’m delusional for even mentioning Ernesto Valverde’s name in this list, you might well be right; you probably are. However, despite the Spaniard’s career at Barcelona ending sourly, there is no doubt that he is a successful coach who has the ability to win silverware. During his time at the Camp Nou, the 57-year-old won two La Liga titles and the Copa del Rey.
Alongside those achievements, he also won three Greek Super League titles and two Greek Cups whilst in charge of Olympiacos. Throughout a combined three years in charge of the Greek giants - spanning over two separate stints - Valverde lost just 16 of his 127 games. During his three years at Barca, he only lost 16 of his 145 games, whilst conceding on average 0.88 goals per game.
United need a defensively-intelligent coach who has experience in managing the world’s biggest players at a huge club - Valverde might not be a glamorous appointment, but there is certainly a case to be built in his favour.