Man United could consider Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel with his future at Stamford Bridge in doubt amid the club’s current turmoil as the Red Devils’ other candidates Erik ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino crash out of the Champions League
- Manchester United’s search for their permanent head coach is continuing
- Two of their candidates crashed out of the Champions League in the last 16
- But the Red Devils could look to poach Thomas Tuchel from Chelsea in summer
- Chelsea’s woes following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has left his future in doubt
Manchester United were still absorbing another grim European failure against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night when news filtered through from Amsterdam that Erik ten Hag’s Ajax had suffered a shock defeat to Benfica.
Neither results were as catastrophic as Paris Saint-Germain’s exit a week earlier when Mauricio Pochettino’s side threw away a two-goal aggregate lead against Real Madrid by succumbing to Karim Benzema’s hat-trick.
It’s fair to say the last 16 of the Champions League has not been kind to United or the two men most closely linked with becoming their new manager this summer.
Manchester United candidates Mauricio Pochettino (left) and Erik ten Hag (right) crashed out of the Champions League in the last 16
One defeat in Europe will not define Pochettino or Ten Hag any more than victory would have drastically altered their cv.
But it was a reminder that two of the top coaches in Europe do not come with a cast-iron guarantee that they can cure United’s ills at home and abroad.
Neither would Thomas Tuchel, of course. No coach does. But if Tuchel’s time at Chelsea tells us anything, it is that he has an ability to take teams to the next level.
The Red Devils are aware Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel could be on the job market in summer
It took the 48-year-old just four months to win the Champions League following his arrival at Stamford Bridge last season, five months after guiding PSG to the final for the first time.
Chelsea have since lifted the Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup under Tuchel, as well as reaching the finals of the FA Cup and Carabao Cup. Not bad for a year’s work.
The German’s first full season has not been as smooth by any means, but Chelsea comfortably occupy third place in the Premier League and moved into the quarter-finals of the Champions League in Lille on Wednesday night.
His recent track record was bound to make United sit up and take notice when Tuchel’s future at Stamford Bridge was plunged into doubt by the crisis engulfing Chelsea and their owner Roman Abramovich.
The German has led Chelsea to the Champions League, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup
He will stay in charge until the end of the season, that much we know. But what then?
United are aware that Tuchel could soon be on the job market, and his long history with Ralf Rangnick suggests that is more than an educated guess.
Everyone has been caught out by the speed of the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine and the impact they are having around the world.
United weren’t to know that Tuchel might be available when they began drawing up a list of candidates that is believed to include Pochettino, Ten Hag, Julen Lopetegui and Luis Enrique.
Tuchel’s future is in doubt amid the crisis engulfing Chelsea and owner Roman Abramovich
But it would be negligent of the Glazer family and new chief executive Richard Arnold to not at least explore the possibility of tempting him to Old Trafford.
Rangnick’s relationship with Tuchel goes back almost a quarter of a century, and that may be his greatest asset to United considering his short spell as interim manager seems destined to end in failure.
‘How this manager was given the job, I don’t know,’ said former United midfielder Paul Scholes on Tuesday night.
‘Until we get a proper top-class elite coach, who strikes fear into players, it could be two, three or four years before we are challenging.’
It will have been depressing for United fans to hear Rangnick describe Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp as ‘the two best coaches on the planet’ earlier this month, as if their club will have to be satisfied with second-best. But, in Tuchel, they may get their hands on an ace card.
Tuchel has a relationship with United’s caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick spanning almost 25 years
Much will depend on events between now and the end of the season, of course. Tuchel may be perfectly happy with Chelsea’s new owners and decide to stay where he is.
You would understand if he chose Champions League football above what is likely to be a Europa League campaign at United, or went somewhere completely different altogether.
After all, Old Trafford has become a graveyard for some of the biggest names in football. It’s a job that no longer has quite the same attraction.
It may be that United end up reverting to the usual suspects and choose between Pochettino and Ten Hag, or look to Spain where Lopetegui and Enrique are both well regarded.
But while there remains a possibility that Tuchel might listen to offers, they need to leave the door open.