Five contenders for the Manchester United job
Favourites to succeed David Moyes at Old Trafford
Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp
Netherlands Louis van Gaal
Everton manager Roberto Martinez
Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone
Real Madrid’s coach Carlo Ancelotti
The Borussia Dortmund manager ticks an awful lot of boxes but does he really want the job? Two Bundesliga titles plus a Champions League runners-up medal achieved on a relatively modest budget while playing fearless, entertaining football will appeal to the Old Trafford hierarchy.
Klopp, 47 in June, has compared his managerial style to “heavy metal music” and is a complex character blessed with sufficient “personality” to make even Jose Mourinho seem a little boring. He is also noted for his loyalty and opposition to breaking contracts. When recently asked about United’s perceived interest, he said: “Nobody at Dortmund has to worry about that. We’re all in love with this club and how it does things.”
LOUIS VAN GAAL
The Holland coach is admired by Tottenham but after long hankering for a Premier League job, could well be persuaded to divert north. The 62-year-old former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager is a practitioner of wonderful attacking “total” football within the strict parameters of often ingenious tactical systems.
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Famously demanding of his players, brutally caustic with the media and undeniably arrogant, Van Gaal can be a slow starter as first-teamers adjust to his modus operandi – including relentless training ground drills – but usually ends up a winner.
The 40-year-old Spaniard has taken the team from Goodison Park to dizzy heights David Moyes believed they were incapable of scaling, and they could yet pip Arsenal to Champions League qualification. Martinez was responsible for creating Swansea’s much-admired passing philosophy before an impressive stint spent generally defying the odds while playing exciting football at low-budget Wigan.
Eventually Wigan did get relegated but not before Martinez had led them to FA Cup final glory against Manchester City. Well educated – he has a degree in physiotherapy and a diploma in business management – highly articulate, refreshingly humble and immensely likeable, he is also a workaholic.
The one-time Argentina defensive midfielder infamously involved in David Beckham’s sending off at St Etienne during the 1998 World Cup in France, Simeone has taken Atletico Madrid to the top of the Spanish league where they sit perched above clubs boasting five times their budget.
The road towards breaking La Liga’s Barca-Real duopoly has seen him win the Europa League, Copa del Rey and Uefa Super Cup with Atletico. Currently preparing to face Chelsea in the club’s first Champions League semi-final for more than 40 years, the 44-year-old is a clever coach who loves counterattacking football and has little time for endless passing with no end product.
It is beyond United’s wildest hopes - and bank balance - that he could bring Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale on the plane with him from Real Madrid but Ancelotti might be a very good fit at Old Trafford. Not only is the former Juventus, Milan, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain coach well versed in the Premier League but he practises the sort of sophisticated attacking football United crave. With his 55th birthday falling in June, the Italian has a few years left on the managerial clock and plenty of experience to draw on.