With the departures of Jose Mourinho and Garry Monk from Chelsea and Swansea respectively, the managerial merry-go-round is in full swing once again and now the vultures are circling over beleaguered Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal.
The dismissal of the Special One from Stamford Bridge, and the strained relations between Pep Guardiola and the Bayern Munich board (he will leave the club at the end of the season), mean that the spotlight has never been in sharper focus on the Dutchman than it is right now.
To be fair, the glare was pretty intense even before the Red Devils’ bizarre 1-2 at the hands of Norwich City on Saturday. That match was indicative of their season as a whole – 69% possession, eleven corners, eleven shots at goal, two shots on target….and just one goal to show for their efforts. United were booed off the pitch at both half time and at the final whistle, and the mood around Old Trafford is about as toxic as it was towards the end of David Moyes’ reign of terror; a damning indictment indeed.
Van Gaal and his side travel to the Brittania Stadium for a tricky assignment against Stoke on Boxing Day, and then two days later they face a (possibly) rejuvenated Chelsea. The omens are not good for the Dutchman, and it is little wonder that his price in the Next Manager to Leave market has tumbled to as short as 1/3.
In truth, he has little competition for the prize. Steve McClaren, at 10s, has overseen a mini revival at Newcastle, while Remi Garde at 14/1 will surely be given more time to prove himself at Villa Park. You could possibly make a case for Alex Neil at 16/1, but would anybody have expected his Norwich side to be out of the bottom three at Christmas? The Scot has exceeded all expectations.
So Van Gaal is the smart money to be the next likely managerial casualty, and talk has already switched to his possible successor.
The Only Way is Jose?
At 8/15 with the bookies the insinuation is that Jose Mourinho has all but signed on the dotted line at Old Trafford, with the Daily Mail reporting that he ‘is ready to take the job’.
It’s a surprise given that he has a certain amount of loyalty to Chelsea, but hell hath no fury like a Special One scorned. Having been let down so badly by his under-performing stars at Stamford Bridge, perhaps Mourinho will feel that he has something to prove – both to his former employer and to himself.
Another potential avenue would be for Ryan Giggs (5/1) to take the reins until the end of the season and then Guardiola (17/2), once his tumultuous time at Bayern has come to an end, to enter the hot seat in time for the 2016/17 campaign.
But with Champions League football the defining factor in any discussion will the Glazers trust Giggs, in what would be his first real managerial test, to deliver a top four finish? That would represent a huge gamble, and for a club notorious for its conservative approach to managerial appointments (see the non-action stylings of Moyes and Van Gaal) perhaps it would make sense to turn to a more experienced figure.
Somebody like Jose Mourinho, for example.