After being humbled 4-0 at Chelsea, Manchester United have been pushed out to odds against to make the top four for the first time since Jose Mourinho took charge during the summer, with 6/5 saying the Red Devils return to the Champions League qualifying spots.
On the evidence of Louis van Gaal’s and David Moyes’ recent tenures at Old Trafford, failure to achieve this minimum requirement will cost Mourinho his job.
The loss of centre-half Eric Bailly for at least a month after the young Ivorian damaged his knee ligaments at Stamford Bridge makes matters worse, with the 13-time Premier League champions looking bereft of ideas at present.
Such a charge cannot credibly be levelled at Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur or even Everton, incidentally the six teams above United in the Premier League table right now.
With Mourinho the third permanent manager to take over at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ in little over three years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, the Red Devils bigwigs will surely be working on another contingency plan.
Despite winning the Champions League in May, Real Madrid are already looking ahead to life after current coach Zinedane Zidane, according to Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, who believes Los Blancos have their ‘eye’ on BvB gaffer Thomas Tuchel.
The man who carried on Jurgen Klopp’s legacy at Mainz, establishing them as a top-flight club in five seasons at the helm, picked up where the Bearded One left off at Westfallenstadion, restoring Dortmund’s Champions League credentials with runners-up spots in the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal.
Ilkay Gundogan, Mats Hummels and Henrikh Mkhitaryan departed during the summer, but Tuchel deserves credit for tempting back Mario Gotze from Bayern Munich, keeping goal machine Patrick Aubameyang and bringing through the likes of Julian Weigl, already a Germany international at 21.
Currently sixth in Germany and ahead of Real on points in Champions League Group F, Dortmund have been praised for their swashbuckling style under Tuchel, with only one blank registered in their past nine all told and five or more goals bagged in three successive games last month.
United are still reeling from the after effects of ‘safe’ options Van Gaal and Moyes, with a third conservative approach in a row apparently not working.
Should they finally deign to take on the rest of the Premier League at their own, high-tempo game, Tuchel could be the best option.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.