It’s fair to say life at Manchester United has not been plain sailing since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.
Monday’s events at Old Trafford suggest Jose Mourinho is on borrowed time at the club. Chief Executive Ed Woodward looked on in shock at what he was witnessing and perhaps regretted his decision not to back his manager this summer as he failed to deliver the defensive targets Mourinho publicly cried out for.
The question remains; why give his man a new contract if he was having doubts?
Each of Manchester United’s central defenders have made individual errors this season, remarkable given we are only three games in. Eric Bailly was omitted from Monday’s squad while midfielder Ander Herrera was chosen ahead of defender Victor Lindelof in a defensive role against Spurs.
Perhaps a message was being sent to the stands for Woodward. The defensive frailties on the pitch backed up Mourinho’s concerns this summer. When asked if he knew his best back four after the game his flat quick reply was ‘No’.
Jamie Carragher spoke on Monday Night Football and suggested that Mourinho will not be the Manchester United manager next season. Mourinho’s outburst in his press conference as he walked out early suggests he too is feeling the heat and it has an all-too-familiar feeling to the events of 2015 when it all came crashing down for the second time at Chelsea.
Speaking on the same programme, Gary Neville suggested Manchester United would be crazy to sack their latest manager and that to keep on sacking managers is not the answer.
David Moyes is still effectively under contract at Manchester United after signing a six-year deal in 2013; he lasted ten months. His replacement, Louis Van Gaal, lasted two seasons and was brutally axed directly after winning the FA Cup in 2016.
It is clear for all watching that Mourinho is going down the same path he did at Chelsea and a parting of the ways in inevitable.
The problem for Manchester United, however, is where to next? The other man in the dugout last night, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino would be a clear frontrunner for the job but with Tottenham moving into a new stadium and the future looking a lot brighter for the London club, would Pochettino be interested in the huge rebuilding job in Manchester?
Will he too be turfed out after two seasons?
Pochettino will want to finish the job at Spurs or at least bring a long-awaited trophy to the club before departing. He is also under a long-term contract at the club and Chairman Daniel Levy has shown in the past that he is a tough negotiator.
Ryan Giggs is another name continually linked with the role but with his new position as Wales boss about to get underway as the Nations league kicks off next month, he is a non-runner and perhaps too early in his career for such a big job.
The list of options should Mourinho depart is not a long one with the best managers in the game employed by some of the biggest clubs. Manchester United missed out on the opportunities to snap up both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
The only realistic candidate is Zinedine Zidane, the same Zidane who has just won three Champions League titles in a row with Real Madrid.
Some sections of the Manchester United fanbase are crying out for the World Cup winner to take over the reins, while others question whether he is the right fit.
Rumours suggest Zidane is being considered despite the board publically backing their man last week. Mourinho knows too well about being the man waiting in the wings while the hot seat gets hotter for his colleague. He did the same as Louis Van Gaal struggled to hold onto his job in 2016.
The question remains, however; is Zidane the right fit for Manchester United?
Sure, he has an impressive CV both in his playing career and short managerial career at Real Madrid; in two and a half years at Real Madrid, Zidane collected nine trophies. He is available and as the only truly viable available candidate for the job, it seems inevitable that the Frenchman will be next in the door as Manchester United manager.
There are many positives to bringing Zidane in, with Paul Pogba a major problem for Manchester
United and Mourinho failing to get the best out of his star player. Could his compatriot bring the best out of the player?
Anthony Martial too is crying out for a manager who appreciates his qualities and, having been dropped from the Manchester United squad for the visit of Spurs, it is clear that man is not Mourinho.
Zidane will be desperate to prove that Real Madrid was no fluke and that he can get Manchester United back to the top. United too know he can attract the best players and begin to steer the club in the right direction once again.
All things considered, one constant remains true; Jose Mourinho is not the right fit at Manchester United.
Zinedine Zidane’s availability may yet prove a gamble worth taking for Ed Woodward.