Man Utd took the dramatic step of firing struggling manager Jose Mourinho this morning and sportsbooks are already offering lines on who will replace him. The Portuguese was axed following a disastrous run of form that saw the Red Devils slip 19 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool. He fell out with several high-profile players, including Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez, and the club’s board moved to prevent a mass exodus in the January transfer window by firing their manager. Former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane and Tottenham manager Mauricio Pocchetino have been linked with the vacant position, but a surprise candidate has jumped to the front of the queue.
Former defender Laurent Blanc is the -175 favourite for the job with European sportsbooks like Bet365 and Betway. The French World Cup winner played for Man Utd from 2001 to 2003 and won the Premiership title under Alex Ferguson’s tutelage. He won three Ligue 1 titles in a row from 2014 to 2016 as PSG manager and also won eight different cup competitions during his time in the French capital. His previous managerial CV includes stints with Bordeaux and the French national team, taking Les Bleus to the quarter-finals at Euro 2012.
He has been out of work since leaving PSG in 2016 and he is now ready to return to work, so he could be named caretaker manager and go on to earn the job on a permanent basis, or simply be handed the reins to the club from the beginning. But Blanc faces stern competition from Zidane, his teammate during France’s 1998 World Cup triumph, and the former Real Madrid manager would surely be the dream appointment for Red Devils fans.
He took over an ailing Real Madrid side midway through the 2015/16 season and led them to the Champions League title. The following season he won the Champions League again and overhauled the mighty Barcelona to claim the domestic league title. Last season he made it three Champions League wins in a row to cap an unparalleled period of global dominance for Los Blancos, before stepping down. Since then Real are a mess, but Zidane wanted a change of pace and he has said he would be interested in the Man Utd job. He is out at +700 to replace Mourinho, and that would be a welcome development for star player Paul Pogba, who could thrive once more under his compatriot’s management.
The other big name in the mix is Tottenham manager Mauricio Pocchetino and he would represent a real coup for the club. He has worked wonders at Tottenham, but he has no silverware to his name and he might be tempted to leave Spurs to take on the top job at a bigger club with a larger budget. Tottenham are about to move into a new stadium, which will leave them hamstrung financially, and Pocchetino has the ability to spark a revolution at Old Trafford. He is as long as +1600 with Unibet to become the next Man Utd manager and Tottenham would not let him go without an almighty fight.
Michael Carrick is also being touted for the job as he was part of Mourinho’s coaching staff, but he has no managerial experience and he is unlikely to land the role. Former Red Devils superstar Ryan Giggs has previously served as caretaker manager and he is now in charge of the Welsh national team, so he is attracting some interest at +1600. You can find the same price on another former Man Utd player, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, while Rafa Benitez is +3300. But the bettors see it as a four-way fight between Zidane, Blanc, Pocchetino and Giggs, and the early betting has been divided pretty equally between that quartet.