MANCHESTER UNITED chief Ed Woodward wants Mauricio Pochettino to replace Jose Mourinho. So that means they may end up with Zinedine Zidane instead.
Manchester United are a club in crisis and, though the money continues to pour in, improvements on the pitch are few and far between.
The Red Devils are no longer themselves. Gone are the days of Sir Alex Ferguson, with the Scot’s empire in ruins just five years on from his retirement.
A lot has changed throughout that time. David Moyes was the Chosen One. Louis van Gaal, the Convenient One. In Mourinho, they thought they had the Special One.
But there is nothing special about the club now. The players, social-media privy, lack motivation. Jose Mourinho himself was compared to a DEMENTOR in midweek by a member of a United fanzine. Woodward’s name is often booed at Old Trafford.
Woodward wants Pochettino
Woodward craves Pochettino and feels United can return to their perch under the Argentine.
He is seen as a man capable of stamping his authority and stopping players heading abroad whenever they please.
Pochettino is also viewed as Ferguson-esque material because of the entertaining way his Tottenham side plays.
So highly does Woodward rate the Spurs boss, he has supposedly made him his only candidate to replace the struggling Mourinho.
Which means they’re destined for Zidane because of Woodward’s hit rate.
Woodward does not always deliver
United never seem to have any plan B nowadays, unless it involves sticking Marouane Fellaini up top. The last five years back that up.
There was no plan B when Cesc Fabregas, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale all snubbed moves to Old Trafford in 2013.
Under Van Gaal, there was no back-up operation either when the club desperately needed a new striker. Anthony Martial came in but, given Javier Hernandez, Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie jumped ship, the Red Devils clearly needed more.
Just this summer, Mourinho tried to sign Toby Alderweireld and Harry Maguire. Diego Godin, Jerome Boateng and Yerry Mina were pursued too.
But nobody came in. Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant were steady signings. They were not an upgrade, however, on anything the club already had.
Credit where credit is due
Woodward does not always fail. Sometimes, the United supremo can pull off the spectacular.
Paul Pogba looked destined to join Real Madrid or Juventus two years ago but went to Old Trafford instead. Inconsistent though he has been, that was a signing worthy of the rap video and the viral celebrations.
Romelu Lukaku was another A-list signing. Chelsea were in pole position to sign him. Then the Red Devils came along.
The same can be said for Alexis Sanchez and Fred, who both looked Manchester City-bound. Every now and then, a miracle occurs.
Why Zidane may take over
But Woodward has more failings to his name than successes. Obviously, commercial deals aside.
United will sack Mourinho should they finish outside the top four, that much is clear. They are a sinking ship but they do not tolerate drowning, particularly when their fiercest rivals shine around them.
But Pochettino is a tough buy. Tottenham will probably finish higher than United and, if he stays put at the new stadium in north London, Zidane is the most obvious choice to take over and replace Mourinho.
Woodward cannot always satisfy his cravings. And because of him always aiming the bar so high, it means they may have to settle for a Plan B in Zidane instead.
They can’t go without a manager. Mourinho, it seems for now at least, is a dead man walking. And Zidane is the only Galactico they would likely to turn to.