Jose Mourinho is under huge pressure after his Manchester United side was dismantled by Tottenham, worsening an already poor start to the Premier League season.
Mourinho stayed on the Old Trafford pitch applauding the supporters for an extended period following Monday's 3-0 loss in what many onlookers took as a goodbye.
A fractious post-match news conference then saw Mourinho walk out after demanding "respect" for his three Premier League titles – all won with Chelsea – which he noted is more than the division's 19 other managers combined.
Defeat at Burnley on Sunday – with Sean Dyche's men having started the campaign similarly poorly – could leave Mourinho on the brink of being sacked, although it is not out of the question that he opts to resign.
No United manager since the great Alex Ferguson has brought stability and sustained success to the club, but who could be next in line for the Old Trafford hot seat? Omnisport takes a look at some of the possible contenders.
Spurs had not even scored on their last four visits to Old Trafford, but a convincing 3-0 triumph further enhanced Pochettino's already glowing reputation. Pochettino has long been talked of as a possible United manager, even dating back to Louis van Gaal's appointment. But, the Argentine signed a new five-year contract in May and it is doubtful he would want to leave Tottenham. Pochettino clearly enjoys building a long-term project, despite his obvious frustration with the lack of activity in the transfer window. With the club soon to move into the rebuilt White Hart Lane, Spurs looks primed to ascend to the big time. United may well have missed its chance to appoint Pochettino, with Spurs, now, seeking to leapfrog them in the Premier League pecking order.
The football world was shocked when Zidane decided to walk away from Real Madrid after leading the club to a third consecutive Champions League crown in May. Zidane has since kept a low profile and it is not yet clear where he sees his future. Few teams can compete with the prestige of managing the Spanish capital club, but United is up there – the two clubs are probably the biggest in the world. Zidane may want a longer break to recharge his batteries, but if he was keen on taking charge at Old Trafford, a temporary appointment to bridge the gap could appeal to all parties. That said, for all Zidane's European success, Madrid finished 17 points behind Barcelona in the LaLiga table last term.
A big collection of silverware, tactical ingenuity and perhaps most importantly available – Conte ticks a lot of boxes. A complication would be that he is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Chelsea, while the Italian appeared to lose control of the dressing room at Stamford Bridge last season. Although Conte is a proven winner, with four league titles on his record at the age of 49, the former Juventus and Italy boss can be as combustible as Mourinho and that could put off the Old Trafford board.
Former Paris Saint-Germain head coach Blanc has been biding his time before returning to management, with over two years out of the game since leaving the Ligue 1 giant. Blanc won 11 domestic trophies in his three years in charge at PSG, but was sacked after a quarter-final Champions League exit to Manchester City in his final term. PSG, then, failed to progress any further in the competition under his successor Unai Emery, backing up Blanc's impressive record at the club. Blanc has been linked with Bordeaux, but reports have suggested he has rejected a Ligue 1 return, while, perhaps crucially, the 52-year-old knows Old Trafford well, having spent the last couple of years of his playing career at United.
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Given Carrick only hung up his boots at the end of the 2017-18 season, it would be asking an awful lot for him to replace Mourinho, who added the former England midfielder to his coaching staff. Carrick would be untainted by the bad start to 2018-19 and could be a unity appointment, especially given a brief to put his faith in rebuilding around talented young players such as Marcus Rashford, who appears to have been sidelined under the Portuguese. Carrick has been at United since 2006 and few know the club better, but inexperience counts against him.
Never going to happen, but even United fans must accept it would make for an intriguing spectacle.
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