Manchester United fans could hardly believe the news on Tuesday morning when it was confirmed that the club had sacked Jose Mourinho. Knowing that United would have to pay him off with a larger sum of money now, rather than when it became mathematically impossible to qualify for the top four, supporters assumed that the club would bide their time.
After all, David Moyes lasted until the April when he had guided the champions of England to seventh in the table before he was sacked.
United’s decision to cut their losses now is a surprising but largely welcomed move by the fan base, who had grown tired of the dull football that Mourinho employed and their lack of challenge at the top of the table.
Gradually, the biggest club in the world seem to be learning how to behave like the biggest club in the world again.
In the March of 2014, Gianluca Vialli claimed that Moyes would have been sacked three times by then if he had been managing in the Serie A. United are keen not to let history repeat itself and drag out the tenure of a manager who has no chance of turning the situation around.
This leaves the question of who should take charge until the end of the season though, with United confirming that a caretaker manager will oversee the club until the end of the season, with a new face coming in for next season.
The suggestion is that the person to take charge for now will not be appointed on a permanent basis.
If this is the case, the most likely candidate is arguably someone already within the club. Michael Carrick, Nicky Butt and Kieran McKenna would all put themselves forward and the club could may opt to appoint one or a combination of them.
Many United fans would be happy with this, knowing all three have a good understanding of the club’s history, philosophy and priorities of the fans. They should all have a good working relationship with the current squad too.
Ed Woodward was at the FA Youth Cup match on Monday evening, when United’s U-18s beat Chelsea 4-3. Mason Greenwood stole the show but he’s not the only talented player in the ranks, with Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong among the most highly rated.
Just like Ryan Giggs, promoted youngsters to the first team during his short spell in charge after Moyes was sacked, United would certainly see more youth players given a chance if one of the three men get the job.
However, appointing someone with little to no proven track-record, certainly at the highest level at least, is not the ideal scenario for some supporters. There are some things that are more important than getting the club, and having experience of managing big egos in the biggest games is one of them.
For this reason, some fans have turned their attention to Zinedine Zidane and Laurent Blanc. Both are currently out of work, the latter for considerably longer than the former, but have won plenty of silverware between them.
The appeal of having a superstar in world football, Zidane, is massive for some. It would arguably make the January transfer easier for the club too, given a whole host of players would like to play for him.
But would he be interested in a short-term post? Would he be interested in United at all, given all the chaos there is behind the scenes with the Glazers and Woodward? His CV means he can be picky and isn’t desperate for work, although he may view this move as one that could become permanent if he’s a success.
Blanc, on the other hand, might be more desperate, given he’s been out of management since PSG, when he left after winning the league in all three of the seasons he spent there.
The French connection might also bring the best out of United’s naturally most gifted players, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial. He also ticks the box of having an understanding of the club, given he spent a couple of seasons at the club playing for Sir Alex Ferguson.
Leonardo Jardim is another experienced manager out of work and managed Martial at Monaco. Having enjoyed great success at Monaco, you would again have to question whether he would be interested in the job if it is just being advertised for the short-term.
United could probably do with a big name in charge and while some fans would prefer Zidane or Jardim, Blanc is the most likely to take the gamble. Appointing from within seems like a risky tactic when we’re not even half way through the league campaign yet.
But failing that, give it to Eric!