At the current time of writing, Erik ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino are the favourites to replace Ralf Rangnick at Manchester United. However, if Antonio Conte suddenly becomes available, the Glazers and the rest of the board have reason to act. His time at Tottenham hasn’t worked out so far, but his impressive CV speaks for itself.
United decided against hiring a permanent replacement after axing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, shortly after a dire 4-1 defeat to Watford.
Links to Pochettino and Ten Hag both arose but, with both men working at Paris Saint-Germain and Ajax respectively, they were seen as too tricky to land.
So United went with Rangnick who has done a solid, albeit not spectacular, job at the club so far.
The German has brought stability at a time of chaos, helping United get their season back on track – even if performances haven’t always excited.
Yet Pochettino and Ten Hag are expected to be pursued, at the very least, when the final ball of the season is kicked in May.
However, Conte’s recent comments about Tottenham make for interesting reading.
His Spurs side have lost five of their last six matches across all competition, with Wednesday night’s 1-0 loss to Burnley a new low.
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Their victory over Manchester City achieved just days previously appears to have papered over the cracks. There are issues at Tottenham, and Conte knows it.
He went into a big rant after the defeat at Turf Moor, saying: “I have to talk to the club.
“I am too honest to close my eyes and continue in this way, and also take my salary.
“I want to take my responsibility. I am open for every decision because I want to help Tottenham.
“Four defeats in the last five games, this is the first time in my life this type of situation has happened. This is unacceptable.
“I came in to try and improve the situation with Tottenham but maybe in this moment, I am not so good to improve it.
“I’m trying to do everything to change the situation but the situation is not changing.
“Someone has to speak about the race for the fourth place, and the reality from the last five games is we have to pay attention to not fight for the relegation zone.
“This is the truth, this is the reality, and when this type of situation happens, maybe there is something wrong.
“I’m too honest to close my eyes and to continue to say, ‘OK I want to finish the season in this way and OK my salary is good’. I want to make an assessment with the club.”
It’s since been reported that Tottenham think Conte will stay.
However, there’s no guarantee. If the season continues to go from bad to worse, he will happily be on his way.
Conte is a winner. A proven champion in a day and age where they’re getting increasingly harder to come by.
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He rebuilt Juventus during his time in Turin, winning three straight Serie A titles and laying the foundations for future success in the process.
At Chelsea, life wasn’t easy.
But he still won the Premier League title in his maiden season at the helm, before claiming FA Cup glory the following year.
When he was appointed Inter Milan manager in 2019, he was given the tough task of knocking Juventus off their perch.
And he did exactly that, masterminding their Scudetto triumph and leaving Inter in a better position than before.
Sure, his time at Tottenham has been underwhelming so far.
Yet Conte would bring order to United and command the respect of the dressing room. He may ruffle feathers, but that needs to happen at Old Trafford for the club to be giants again.
The brave and ambitious will play for him. The weak and selfish will not.
Ten Hag has done brilliantly at Ajax, helping them re-establish themselves as European giants once again.
Pochettino has fared well over his career, too, exceeding expectations at Southampton and Tottenham prior to taking the PSG job.
However, Conte is Conte. United may have to accept his combative nature but, if winning trophies really is the priority for the Glazers, they should make an effort to bring him in.
For now, he’ll remain at Tottenham. Yet there’s a sense his relationship with the club is already edging towards divorce.
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