Rodgers was once a viable option...

Where are they now? The bookmaker’s favourites for the Man Utd job in 2022

If ever it all gets a bit too much and you need a laugh before the football drives you truly insane, the bookmaker’s suggestions for a vacant manager’s job always make for great, humourous reading.

While they’re not quite as electric as Sky Bet’s annual Royal Rumble winner odds – which often includes former Norwich forward Grant Holt – they do tend to get a little bit silly, with the bookies desperate to offer odds in order to make money and pad up the offerings around more realistic options.

When they’re not being outrageous and hilarious in equal measure, though, they can be somewhat informative.

Following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking and the interim arrival of Ralf Rangnick at Manchester United in late 2021, the bookmakers were rolling in it come early 2022 when taking bets on who the next permanent United manager would be.

Two years on, looking at who the bookies had down as candidates to take the job is fascinating. Here are those managers and where they are now, with data from Oddschecker.

Mauricio Pochettino

The Wesley Sneijder to Manchester United of managerial moves, we’re unsure if there’s actually been a year since the Argentine began coaching in England that he’s not been linked with taking over the Red Devils.

Pochettino was in charge of PSG during the 2021-22 season, but with him likely to leave the club, he quickly became the bookmaker’s favourite to succeed Rangnick at United. A two-horse race then developed between Pochettino and Erik ten Hag, with Pochettino missing out at the death.

He’s since been back in the Premier League with Chelsea, but left after just one season in charge and is in a very strong position to replace the Dutchman who beat him to the job two years ago. It’s a funny old game.

Erik ten Hag

Interestingly, in March 2022, Oddschecker had Pochettino at evens to land the United job at the end of Rangnick’s interim spell, while Ten Hag was ever so slightly behind in the race at 9/4.

It was the Ajax manager who landed the gig, however, putting together a brilliant first season in charge after a rocky start with several challenges thrown his way, finishing third, winning the Carabao Cup and reaching the FA Cup final.

Ten Hag has reached the FA Cup final for a second year in a row and will face Manchester City once again, but regardless of the result, his job appears to be in serious jeopardy with INEOS beginning to take stock of the club and clean house.

The Dutchman’s second season hasn’t gone to plan at all, finishing eighth in the Premier League with a squad that lacks any sustained threat or identity, albeit decimated by injuries.

Erik ten Hag after Manchester United's Europa League victory over Barcelona at Old Trafford, Manchester, February 2023.

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Antonio Conte

When United and Tottenham met in October 2021 and both managers’ jobs seemed to be on the line, it felt like the loser of that game would end up sacking their manager first and ending up with Antonio Conte.

Solskjaer’s side won 3-0 on the night and, as a result, Nuno Espirito Santo was replaced at Tottenham with the Italian. At the time, many United fans felt it was a missed opportunity to replace Solskjaer – whose sacking felt inevitable anyway – with a serial winner.

Conte’s reign at Spurs lasted less than two years and ended in seriously explosive fashion, having been unable to win a trophy. He’s not taken on a manager’s job since, with a troubled end to his time at Tottenham coinciding with surgery and the death of a close friend.

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Ralf Rangnick

With Conte 5/1 to take the job, interim boss Rangnick was valued at 6/1 to take the job permanently at the end of the season.

When United appointed the German as their interim manager, there was a rather shrewd agreement in place that would take Rangnick upstairs into an advisory role following the appointment of a permanent manager.

However, following Ten Hag’s arrival, the club went back on the agreement and Rangnick was let go, taking the Austria national team job that summer. Weird.

Rangnick has a deal with the national team through to 2026 and looks set to lead them out at Euro 2024 despite holding conversations over the vacant manager’s position at Bayern Munich.

Former Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick

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Diego Simeone

Priced at 12/1 back in 2022, Simeone never really felt like too realistic of an option then and certainly doesn’t now, having signed a new deal as Atletico Madrid manager in late 2023, tying him down until 2027.

We’d love to see ‘El Cholo’ in the Premier League at some point and while United of the past might’ve tried to tempt him away, the noises coming from INEOS point to a more progressive, possession-based head coach.

Carlo Ancelotti

Under any other circumstances, we’d have called this extremely silly, but considering Ancelotti somehow ended up as Everton manager in 2020, 14/1 was probably a really good price.

The issue was that by 2022, Ancelotti’s identity crisis was long over and he was back at Real Madrid for his second spell. There was no way he was being dragged back into the depths of hell that were United.

A move for Don Carlo never developed beyond bookies speculation and it probably won’t do anytime soon.

The Italian has won two La Liga titles, a Copa Del Rey and a Champions League since being back in Madrid, and is on the cusp of yet another Champions League this season. Dream on, Sir Jim.

Brendan Rodgers

It sounds ridiculous now, but just a few years ago, there was very much smoke and fire when it came to speculation linking Rodgers to United.

Before the wheels fell off at Leicester, Rodgers had them on the cusp of back-to-back Champions League finishes in 2020 and 2021.

but failure to get over the final hurdle ultimately hurt the Foxes in 2021-22 and 2022-23, resulting in a tough financial situation coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, tighter budgets and subsequently a downturn in form.

The Northern Irish manager’s stock seemed to plummet rapidly after years of building it back up with Leicester.

He re-joined Celtic last summer and has won the Scottish Premiership in his first season back at the club, but it’s going to take more than that to shake off the reputation he left the Premier League with. Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino and Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag feature in Premier League Big Six trophyless seasons

READ: Ranking every Big Six club by their number of trophyless seasons since 2010

Zinedine Zidane

Similarly to Pochettino, Zidane continues to be linked with Manchester United several times throughout a season, no matter the circumstances. It makes looking back at him being 20/1 to take the job a little strange.

The iconic Frenchman hasn’t worked a job in football management that hasn’t been at Real Madrid and appears to be extremely careful about which job he takes next – which is probably for his own good.

He’s not managed since leaving Los Blancos for a second time in 2021, but with two La Ligas and three Champions Leagues to his name, Zizou appears to have the pick of the bunch.

Didier Deschamps

Creeping onto the list with the same odds as Zidane in 2022 was Deschamps, who has been in charge of the French national team since 2012.

International managers are weird, aren’t they? Deschamps has guided Les Bleus to two World Cup finals – winning one of them – a European Championship final and the Nations League over the last decade, but even with all that, the jury is out on whether he could cut the mustard after so long out of club football.

He extended his contract with the national team through to 2026 shortly after the 2022 World Cup and is one of the favourites to win Euro 2024.