The aura around Manchester United currently at Manchester United is at an all time low and has not been this bad since the end of the Jose era. One thing Ole has done well during his tenure as Man Utd manager was keep a positive energy in the dressing room and a decent energy amongst fans.
That is no longer the case as there is a huge civil war amongst United fans, and there are reports every week about the lack of trust in the coaching staff amongst the players. With all that and the results being horrific its almost certain United will have a new manager midseason or at the latest next summer.
The odds on favorite to be Ole’s successor is the current Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers and it has even been rumored that United might be willing to pull the trigger on an alleged release clause in his contract. However Brendan Rodgers to me is the safe option, and the last thing United need to do is be safe. Brendan Rodgers has managed in the premier league for almost 5 years with a break in between in the Scottish league managing Celtic.
While Rodgers is the safe option along with current PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino, there are two managers that are a bigger risk but the reward can be exponentially higher if they succeed. Those two managers are Brighton’s boss Graham Potter and Ajax boss Erik Ten Haag. There are pros and cons with both but the pros outweigh the cons.
Graham Potter fits the bill for the type of manager that the higher ups at Manchester United want. Graham Potter is a young English manager that doesn’t have a ego and would not question the incompetence of the United board. He also probably does not have to work with a big budget which is a Glazer’s dream. Add all those intangibles with his excellent coaching capabilities he is a perfect fit. At Brighton Potter has made them one of the most exciting teams in the league as well as a team hard to beat. They have gotten positive results at Anfield in two consecutive seasons. He has been known to believe in the youth and that is shown with the amount of young players at Brighton. He has developed a Tariq Lamptey, Leandro Trossard, and brought over an exciting Spanish fullback from Getafe in Martin Cucurella.
In the media, there have been reports about the next manager fitting into the “United DNA” and if that is the case Potter fits that. He loves to play the youth players and putting him in charge of players like Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho along with the much improved academy you might be looking at long term success. He also typically loves to use wide players and fast and direct wide players are part of the “United DNA”. Potter has shown to be tactically flexible this season having used different formations such as a 4-2-3-1, 3-5-2, and a 3-4-3. Also has shown he knows when to be attacking and when to be pragmatic as well as creating a well structured press which is something United fans have been craving for under Ole.
While Potter has his many positives, there is one negative for him and its quite a big one. Graham Potter has never managed a club near the size of Manchester United and has never managed a squad with huge personalities like the players United has such as Pogba, CR7, and Bruno. It would be interesting to see how he could get those players to buy into his system and command a level of respect that a manager should have by his players. So the question would be is Potter ready for that jump from a Brighton to Manchester United.
Erik Ten Haag
Pros: Erik Ten Haag is the dream manager for Manchester United and a way for Manchester United to finally get back to competing with their rivals Manchester City and Liverpool as well as Chelsea. One pro that Ten Haag has over Potter is his European experience. Ten Haag led Ajax to the Champions League semifinal in the 2018/2019 season and were it not for a last second winner by Lucas Moura Ajax would have been in the semifinal. After 2 consecutive disappointing UCL campaigns, Ten Haag has Ajax looking excellent in Europe with 4 wins in 4. Ten Haag is a nerd of the beautiful game.
Like Potter Ten Haag fits the so called “United DNA” that the higher ups desire. Ten Haag plays attacking football with fast direct wingers as seen at Ajax with David Neres and Antony who has had an excellent 21/22 campaign. Ten Haag predominantly plays a 433 with one sitter and 2 8s in the midfield. He has coached at Bayern and now Ajax which means he has the knowledge of two of the most successful philosophies in football. His coaching style has elements of both as you see his teams press well like Bayern do, but also look exquisite in possession like the old school Ajax teams. He is a manager that can transform Manchester United and give us a philosophy that can last after he leaves if he were to come here.
Cons: Like Potter, Ten Haag has one big con if he were to be the next manager of Manchester United. One thing that has helped Ten Haag succeed at Ajax is the stability at the board level. He has one of the best CEOs in Europe in legendary keeper Edwin Van Der Sar and then has one of the best directors of football in legendary winger Marc Overmars. Having a stable board helps many managers succeed. It would be interesting to see can Ten Haag replicate and evolve his success from Ajax at Man Utd with a board that is nowhere near as stable as the one at Ajax. At Ajax you have football men running the club, at United you have bankers that have limited or no knowledge. It could lead to many clashes which the club don’t need.
It will be interesting to see what the next move is for Manchester United in the manager department. It could arguably be one of the most important decisions United have made in years because the squad is good right now and we have a great academy. It has to be given to the right hands. While Brendan Rodgers has experience in the league and is an improvement on Ole we know what his ceiling is. For Potter and Ten Haag we don’t know what the ceiling is. I would rather have the unknown over the known when the standard of the known is not excellence.