Manchester United head coach Eric Ten Hag chooses manager to replace him as he tenders voluntary resignation letter to Manchester United board 

Manchester United head coach Eric Ten Hag chooses manager to replace him as he tenders voluntary resignation letter to Manchester United board 




Richard Sellers/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images

6 Candidates to Replace Erik Ten Hag as Manchester United Manager



Be prepared to hear “this is Manchester United Football Club” said a lot in the next few days.


Manager Erik ten Hag’s position could be untenable after a woeful 3-1 Manchester Derby loss to rivals Manchester City.


It’s been a difficult season for the Red Devils, who finished last in Group A of the UEFA Champions League and sit in sixth place in the Premier League with 44 points.


Despite a bright first season for Ten Hag that brought a third-place finish in England’s top flight and a Carabao Cup title, things haven’t gone quite so well in the 2023-24 campaign.


“This is Manchester United Football Club” we’re talking about here, and anything less than brilliance is not tolerated at Old Trafford.


With new investors taking charge of the club’s operations, a fresh start might be best for everyone.


So who could be next to try to fill the exceptionally large shoes of Sir Alex Ferguson and bring United back to their glory days?


After a quick look at Ten Hag’s tenure, read on for six candidates to take over what is perhaps the fieriest of hot seats in all of the Premier League.


How Did We Get Here?


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Ten Hag had built up some goodwill in the red half of Manchester following signs of progress in his first campaign.


A Carabao Cup title, a third-place finish in the Premier League and qualification to the 2023-24 Champions League hinted things were finally changing at Old Trafford.


Expectations for bigger steps forward in the following campaign have not been realised, though, with problems behind the scenes and poor performances on the pitch.


Former club captain Harry Maguire was seemingly being forced out of Manchester at the start of the season—although the England international has since experienced something of a renaissance—and Jadon Sancho was banned from first-team activities for failing to meet Ten Hag’s standards before being sent on loan to Borussia Dortmund.


The Dutchman’s continued selection of Antony, who is the subject of domestic assault allegations, as Sky Sports detailed, has also cast a dark cloud on an already bleak season.


Big-money signings haven’t had the desired impact, with goalkeeper André Onana guilty for costly errors and Mason Mount missing games through injury and disappointing when he has featured.


After a slow start, Rasmus Højlund has started to show his promise, though, scoring in five consecutive Premier League games before a muscle problem halted his progress. He also notched five goals in six Champions League games.


But the impressive debut seasons from Raphaël Varane and Casemiro have not been replicated in 2023-24, and United are out of Europe, fell in the fourth round of their Carabao Cup defense and have a negative goal difference.


To sum up, things have been bad. Ten Hag could pay for these problems with his job, and United might need to hire their eighth manager (including caretakers) since Sir Alex retired in 2013.


Candidate No. 1: Zinedine Zidane


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It feels like Zinedine Zidane has been tipped for the United role forever. He’s been out of a job since he left his second stint as Real Madrid manager in 2021 after a trophyless season, and whispers of a Manchester United tenure are picking up again.


The jury might still be out on his true abilities in the dugout. Two La Liga titles and three Champions League trophies in four full seasons perhaps speak for themselves, but a pair of two-year stints at one club doesn’t exactly give a clear picture of the Frenchman’s impact—and Real Madrid practically has success built in.


This appointment might be a bit of a gamble for a club that is desperately seeking stability and perhaps another rebuild. But Zidane has historically delivered trophies, and United have been starved of them in the last decade.


Candidate No. 2: Antonio Conte


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For the “attack, attack, attack” chanting Manchester United crowd, the appointment of a pragmatic but tactically boring coach in Antonio Conte might not set the pulses racing.


Just ask Tottenham Hotspur fans how they feel after switching from the defensively solid Conte to the all-out attacking style of Ange Postecoglou to get a read on how this hire might play out in the terraces.


But, having said that, Conte has experience at some of the world’s top clubs, and he undoubtedly made Spurs a more difficult team to beat, even if the performances were on the dull side.


With the new investment group expected to provide the backing in the transfer market he so desperately craved at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Conte could replicate the success he achieved with Juventus, Chelsea and Internazionale.


Candidate No. 3: Graham Potter


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Graham Potter’s stock took a bit of a hit following an ill-fated spell as Chelsea boss. The success of his predecessor at Brighton & Hove Albion barely helped matters.


He arguably wasn’t given enough time at Stamford Bridge, and Chelsea’s fortunes since parting ways with the Englishman speak to wider issues at the club.


But with new Manchester United investor Sir Jim Ratcliffe reportedly looking to sign homegrown talent for the dressing room, according to the Daily Mail’s Sami Mokbel, perhaps an English manager will also be favored.


For better or worse, Potter is the best option in that undoubtedly shallow pool—and he’s the betting favorite to take the job, according to Oddschecker.


Candidate No. 4: Roberto De Zerbi

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Roberto De Zerbi, Potter’s replacement at Brighton, has been fantastic on the south coast, guiding the Seagulls to their first-ever berth in a European club competition after finishing sixth in the Premier League in the 2022-23 campaign.


Brighton is outperforming expectations in the league again, sitting in ninth, and has qualified for the UEFA Europa League knockouts after finishing first in Group B.


De Zerbi doesn’t have quite the resume of the first two coaches picked here, but the Italian has been successful in stints at Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk, as well as Brighton.


If United want to take their chances with one of the best up-and-coming coaches around, they could do a lot worse than De Zerbi.


Candidate No. 5: Thomas Tuchel


If United decide on Thomas Tuchel, they would require an interim appointment—Ole Gunnar Solskjær is available, folks.


But with the way Bayern Munich’s season is going, there’s every chance the German could be on the market before his amicable split with the Bavarians at the end of the season.


After taking over from Julian Nagelsmann towards the end of the 2022-23 campaign, Tuchel guided Bayern to the Bundesliga title in dramatic fashion on the final day of the season.


The following season has been a bit of a disaster, though. Bayern lost the DFL-Supercup and were knocked out of the DFB-Pokal by third-tier club Saarbrücken in the second round. Meanwhile, they trail Lazio 1-0 in the Champions League round-of-16 with the second leg still to play, and they sit in second in Bundesliga, 10 points behind surprise leaders Bayer Leverkusen.


Tuchel’s last stint with an English club had a similar story of early success followed by a disappointing ending. He won the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup with Chelsea in just over a year after being appointed in January 2021, but he was sacked by September 2022 with Chelsea sixth in the Premier League.


With his reputation taking a bit of a beating in the last couple of years, despite a decent haul of silverware, helping United rebuild could be a beneficial situation for both parties. There is obviously a good manager in there somewhere, and his profile is among the highest of the options available to the Red Devils.


With Champions League football unlikely for United next season, the pressure will be off somewhat, allowing Tuchel to put his stamp on the team without the bright lights of Europe’s top-tier club competition being a distraction. If he can grab a couple of early trophies, too, that will certainly endear him to the club faithful.


Candidate No. 6: Simone Inzaghi

Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

According to Oddschecker, Simone Inzaghi is now the second favorite behind Graham Potter to take charge at Old Trafford.


He’s been successful in both of his senior managerial stints so far, bringing silverware to Lazio and helping Internazionale become a force to be reckoned with once more.


With Inter, he’s won the Coppa Italia twice and grabbed the Supercoppa Italiana three times, and in the 2023-24 season, he has the club 12 points clear at the top of Serie A.


He also took the Nerazzurri to the 2022-23 Champions League final, so it’s clear why he is one of the most sought-after managers in the game.


Again, this could be a gamble for United, with Inzaghi relatively green compared to other options available. But his success is undeniable, and he does have experience bringing a once-dominant club that had fallen on hard times back to prominence. This could be an inspired choice.


However, with Inter looking likely to win the league this season, he probably won’t be keen on leaving before the campaign’s over—hello, again, Ole.



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