Jose Mourinho’s much maligned Manchester United played to an uninspiring draw with Valencia on Tuesday night, as the club ‘rolled out the red carpet’ to potential Mourinho successors, namely Zinedine Zidane.
In the matchday programme before United continued their winless run with the Champions League Group H game ending goalless, an article was featured which celebrated the Red Devils’ rich history in European competition. The headline however – set below an image of Zidane battling United midfielders in his Juventus pomp – was an indication that should results not improve, United are more than willing to bring in a new manager.
Football predictions suggest that Zidane is currently taking English lessons in anticipation that the Old Trafford position will become available, with Mourinho’s exit seemingly becoming more inevitable each time his side take to the field. Tuesday’s goalless draw marked United’s fourth consecutive game without a win in all competitions, a spell that has seen them held at home by Wolves, knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Derby and beaten 3-1 at struggling West Ham.
Mourinho’s men currently lie 10th in the Premier League with just 10 points from their first seven league games – their worst start to a season for 29 years. To compound their problems, United also have a goal difference of minus two and are yet to play any of their ‘Big Six’ rivals away from home. By all accounts, Mourinho has lost the dressing room and his disputes with the squad’s talisman Paul Pogba have unfolded in the public eye.
Saturday’s visit of fellow crisis club Newcastle now feels like a must win game – if they all weren’t already at this point – with a trip to in-form Chelsea after the international break looking like an opportunity for Mourinho’s former employers to inflict more misery on the Portuguese. Should United’s fortunes on the pitch not improve by then, Mourinho may well be making way for his heir apparent.
At this moment, all signs point to Zidane. The 46-year-old Frenchman is currently taking a sabbatical after guiding Real Madrid to three successive Champions League crowns before stepping down in May, but remains one of the most in-demand managers in world football and awaits a vacancy at the helm of one of Europe’s top clubs.
In addition to the English lessons, Zidane was also spotted sightseeing with his wife in London last month. He is a long time admirer of his fellow World-Cup winning compatriot Pogba and whispers coming out of Old Trafford suggest that the 25-year-old playmaker will be more inclined to sign a new contract should Zidane replace Mourinho.
All of which explain why Zidane is now odds-on to be Manchester United’s next manager at 8/13 with bookmakers and Mourinho is an 8/11 favourite in the Premiership sack race.