Over 24 hours have passed since Manchester United suffered their fourth successive defeat away to Stoke on Boxing Day, but despite the “sacked in the morning” chants and Louis van Gaal hinting that he might resign, there are no signs of a separation.
Indeed, with the frenetic festive schedule meaning that the next televised encounter is now closer to the current hour than the Britannia Stadium beating, it will be a surprise if he isn’t in the dugout for the visit of Chelsea, for which the Red Devils remain 6/4 favourites.
The Ladbrokes odds compilers are willing to be even bolder with their stance, as odds of 7/4 on Van Gaal departing before midday on New Year’s Day indicate that they expect the Dutchman to survive the fallout to any negative result against the Blues as well.
Though many believed that a loss to Stoke so soon after similar setbacks against PSV, Bournemouth and Norwich would prove too much for the 64-year-old to recover from, it is clear that there are some difficulties with the succession plan.
Van Gaal has confirmed on several occasions that assistant Ryan Giggs is intended to eventually replace him, yet the idea was that he would do so in summer 2017 with a pre-season to establish himself as number one and tweak the squad.
Appointing a rookie in the winter with Champions League qualification at stake and morale so low is not a comfortable solution, which is why the club legend doesn’t lead the next permanent Man Utd manager market, instead being the 2/1 second favourite.
Inevitably, Jose Mourinho is the frontrunner at 1/2, but there were many fans and at least one director who didn’t fancy him even when he was at the peak of his powers two years ago, so there won’t be universal backing for him now that his star has fallen.
After all, Mourinho’s historic record is similar to Van Gaal’s – put on the map by a shock Champions League triumph, a title winner for his previous four employers in a variety of countries and struggling to hit targets this term – and the former’s failure has been more spectacular than the latter’s.
So if you accept that this isn’t an ideal time to hire Giggs or Mourinho, there aren’t many other options available. Pep Guardiola, the 10/1 third favourite, isn’t free until the summer, 25/1 shot Gary Neville just arrived at Valencia and 40/1 prospect Carlo Ancelotti is Bayern Munich-bound.
Indeed, the most imminently-appointable of the outsiders is Stoke boss Mark Hughes at 33/1, and there will be plenty of onlookers who regard him to be undeserving of the role.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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