Next Manchester United manager: Five contenders who could replace Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal looks dejected at half time
Feeling the strain: Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal looks dejected

Louis van Gaal is under increasing pressure at Old Trafford after Manchester United were beaten by Norwich City.

The Canaries flew away with the three points as goals from Cameron Jerome and Alexander Tettey sealed victory at the Theatre of Dreams.

Defeat to Norwich made it six games without a win for the Red Devils and leaves them nine points adrift of Premier League leaders Leicester.

United have already crashed out of the Champions League this season and now face the embarrassment of having to play in the Europa League.

Under-fire van Gaal urged his Reds to stick together after their latest setback and told them to believe in themselves despite a poor run.

But if the Manchester United board don’t share his view, who could the club look to as a replacement for the Dutchman?

Jose Mourinho

Jordan Mansfield
Available: Jose Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea

Mourinho has just become available after being sacked by Chelsea following the club’s worst ever start to a Premier League campaign.

Nine defeats from the champions’ opening 16 games saw Roman Abramovich finally lose patience with the Special One and pull the trigger.

Sections of the Old Trafford crowd were heard calling to the former Chelsea manager during the loss to Norwich City.

The Manchester giants would not have to pay compensation as Mourinho is a free agent but the Portuguese would command a hefty wage packet.

He is known to covet the United job and has already signalled his intention to remain in England and says he has no plans to take a sabbatical.

That means he would be ready to step into van Gaal’s shoes immediately, setting up a must-see clash with Chelsea on December 28.

Odds: 4/6

Carlo Ancelotti

ReutersReal Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti
Free agent: Carlo Ancelotti

Many felt Ancelotti was fired too quickly as Chelsea manager and is a proven force in the Premier League.

Ancelotti guided the Blues to a Premier League and FA Cup double in his first spell in charge before being sacked in the Goodison Park corridor a year later after defeat to Everton and a trophyless 2010-11 campaign.

He was also binned by Real Madrid in the summer and has since taken a break from football to recover from back surgery.

The Italian, 56, was was linked with the Liverpool hotseat in October before Jurgen Klopp arrived at Anfield.

Ancelotti has indicated he will return to management next season but a top job is likely to tempt him back into the game earlier than he currently plans.

Reports suggest he has agreed a deal to replace Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich.

Odds: 8-1

Pep Guardiola

Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/GettyPep Guardiola shows tactical moves on a tactics board during his visit to the Bayern Munich supporters club
Set to decide his future: Pep Guardiola

The Bayern Munich chief’s reputation ensures he will be considered for any top European job on offer.

Manchester United made a move before the David Moyes era, while Guardiola has been tipped to take over at Manchester City in the future.

Guardiola has showcased his abilities in Spain and Germany – will the possibility of success in the Premier League appeal to him?

He is expected to make an announcement over his future in the coming days and it is thought he will not be renewing his Munich contract.

Rio Ferdinand has urged United to pull out all the stops to sign the former Barcelona favourite as he is unlikely to move between Manchester clubs if he chooses City as his next destination.

He won’t be going anywhere right now but if United choose to stick with van Gaal until the summer then they could enter a bidding war for Guardiola in the summer.

Odds: 8-1

Ryan Giggs

John Peters/Man Utd via GettyRyan Giggs speaks to Jesse Lingard
Talking tactics: Ryan Giggs speaks to Jesse Lingard

Adored by the Manchester United fans, Ryan Giggs would be a popular choice and get the immediate backing of the Stretford End.

United’s record appearance holder and the most decorated footballer ever to grace the Old Trafford pitch as a Red Devil.

He is currently van Gaal’s number two and the Dutchman has intimated he expects the Welshman to succeed him in the dugout, with Sir Alex Ferguson also lending his support.

Giggs took over as caretaker manager after the departure of David Moyes, overseeing the final four games of the 2013-14 Premier League season.

He won two, drew one and lost one of his matches in charge, putting a strong emphasis on giving youth a chance.

He enlisted the help of former team-mates Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt during that time and would be likely to include at least some of those names in his backroom staff should he get the nod.

Odds: 8-1

Gary Neville

Juan Manuel Serrano Arce
La Liga experience: Gary Neville

Neville has recently taken his first steps into management by being named asValencia’s head coach until the end of the season in a shock appointment.

The 40-year-old remains a part of England’s coaching set-up with Roy Hodgson and would be another popular choice after a glittering career at Old Trafford.

Neville’s relationship as a tactician grew with his impressive role as a pundit while working for Sky Sports and is not afraid of a challenge.

He had a difficult start to life in Spain as Valencia failed to reach the Champions League knockout stages following defeat to Lyon in his first game in charge.

His experience in La Liga will only broad his coaching horizons and leave him in a better position to be considered for jobs like the United hotseat at the end of the campaign.

Much like with Guardiola, Neville would not be available immediately, and the Red Devils would need to wait until the summer before making their move.

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