3 non-mainstream managers Manchester United should consider
Ole Gunnar Solskjær's capacity to manage a club of Manchester United's stature remains a talking point in the football world. The Norwegian looked invincible when he took over from José Mourinho for the better part of three months but since the beginning of 2019, United have struggled for consistency and identity, raising serious doubts as to whether Solskjær is someone they should plan their future around. While the rumours around Mauricio Pochettino persist, there are also exciting left-field options that United can consider building their project around and return to the top. Here are three managers who have shown that they can build a team with minimal financial aid and yet compete at a high level and play exciting football.
#1 Marco Rose
Marco Rose began his managerial career at Mainz's second team before moving to RB Leipzig's youth team and later being promoted to head coach of the senior team. Rose had an impressive stint at RB Salzburg, a club famed for its strong business model and attractive football. Under his guidance, the Austrian club's youth team won the UEFA Youth League in which he groomed various exciting players who moved on to bigger clubs.
For the senior side, Rose won two consecutive league titles, reached the semi-finals of the Europa League and won the Austrian Cup. His current Gladbach side sit second in the Bundesliga despite their comparatively miniscule budget to the big boys of Germany. Rose's style of play heavily relies on pressing, counter-pressing, positional play and quick counter-attacks, meaning his sides are always extremely attractive to watch.
If United manage to get him, there is no doubt that he could instil this intensity and commitment to their game although he may still require some time before he is ready for the highest level of management.
#2 Erik ten Hag
Managers coming out of Ajax are always difficult to judge. In recent years, the likes of Peter Bosz, Frank De Boer and Philip Cocu have failed at the top clubs outside the Netherlands. However, Erik ten Hag could be an exception to this trend.
Hag has previously gained managerial experience at Bayern Munich II and was both manager and sporting director of Utrecht, leading them to qualifying for the Europa League. Under his tenure, Ajax won the Eredivisie after a gap of four years and the young side's run to the semi-finals of the Champions League was thoroughly enjoyable.
The Dutchman's main strengths are his tactical aptitude, ability to nurture youth and capability of working in an organisational structure. His sides focus on intelligently manipulating spaces and are very much based on Cruyffian principles of beautiful football. Quick passing, fluid movements, and clinical finishing characterise his sides. He also has the pragmatism to get results against better sides as seen in his wins against Juventus and Real Madrid in the Champions League.
The current Ajax coach is reportedly Bayern's first choice as their next manager but United would do well to prise him away from Ajax and offer him the set-up he needs for greater success.
#3 Ralf Rangnick
Another innovator and football purist who United should consider is Ralf Rangnick. The German is regarded by many experts and fellow coaches as one of the most intelligent coaches working currently. Rangnick is another manager who is part of the Red Bull football project. He currently serves as their Head of Sport and Development and has been an instrumental part of building their current operational structure.
His coaching skills cannot be understated either. Rangnick has managed a host of clubs like Hannover, Schalke and most importantly RB Leipzig. He has won three German domestic cups, the Bundesliga and UEFA Intertoto Cup. The reason United should look to poach him is because of the freshness he would bring to the side's tactical approach.
Rangnick has mentored various young and progressive coaches like Ralph Hasenhüttl and Julian Nagelsmann. When it comes to tactics, Rangnick is another proponent of intense pressing and quick passing. His sides are ruthless on the counter-attack and quick in transitions.
Despite their abilities, all these coaches require the sufficient backing from United's board and Ed Woodward if a successful project is to be built. Woodward has come under serious criticism for his mistakes in running the club. United spend far too much on average players and need to end this trend if a new coach arrives. Coaches like Rangnick and Rose need certain types of players for their style to be successful and if Woodward were to operate on his own, it would make little difference if a new coach is appointed or not.