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Conte v ten Hag v Zidane: the Analytics Behind United's Targets

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer @ 2/7

Antonio Conte

If Manchester United are seeking to find a manager who they know has the capabilities to get them to the summit of the Premier League, look no further than Antonio Conte. In fact, the Italian remains one of the 21st century's most underrated managers with his record barely being touched by anyone on the current scene.

Conte is coming off the back of being the first manager to dethrone Juventus in almost a decade as he won Serie A with Inter Milan, which to put in perspective just how great that is, the last time Juventus actually lost the league title, Conte won it back for them a year later. In fact, he has now secured four Serie A titles (three with Juventus).

On top of this, and more notably, is his success as Chelsea manager as he, alongside Mourinho, remains the only manager in the last decade to touch the Premier League crown at Stamford Bridge. Furthermore, the 93 points he secured in that title-winning campaign of 2016/17 have only been bettered by Mourinho in 2004/05 by a Blues boss, while Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola are the only two to better this in Premier League history.

What is also a commendable feat of Conte's is his two FA Cup runs in his two years as boss with the west London side. The Italian fell to Arsenal in the final in his debut campaign as a league and cup double was snatched from him, however, Conte won the FA Cup the following year, beating who else but a Mourinho United side in the final. So, within two years, only a League Cup evaded him in England.

In total, the serial winner that is Conte managed to win 51 Premier League games from 76 outings, losing only 15 and scoring 147 goals while conceding 71. However, it's his first year at Chelsea that will be forever remembered as he broke all sorts of records with the Blues such as most wins in a season (30), most consecutive wins (13) and the second-most points in a Premier League season - all records have since been dethroned, however.

Next Manchester United Manager Odds

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Antonio Conte United Manager Odds @ 7/2

Zinedine Zidane

While there is plenty of evidence for the appointment of Conte, the legendary figure of Zinedine Zidane seems to still split the room. The Frenchman has had an incredibly successful period with Real Madrid but his two departures from the club in only four years in total as the manager may worry a few fans.

Nevertheless, Zidane has broken record after record, won more Champions Leagues than anybody currently active in the Premier League, while he even managed two La Liga titles which remain the only league title triumphs in the past decade by a Madrid boss other than José Mourinho's run in 2011/12.

Regardless of whether Zidane would be a quick fix is neither here nor there as he is, based on all evidence, a fix. United are still eight points off the top, which in a 38-game season, could be much worse after nine games. They also have the Champions League to work with and given how Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo both experienced their most successful periods in Spain under Zidane, it really is a no-brainer if Zidane is available.

Outside of being the only manager in history to win three Champions Leagues in a row, there is also an insane array of statistics for United fans to feast their eyes on with Zidane. He boasts the best winning streak in La Liga history with 16 games, which is ironically shared with Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola. The ex-Madrid boss also boasts the most consecutive away wins in La Liga with 13, the lowest number of defeats after 100 games in Spanish football with eight, and the longest unbeaten run in Spanish history with an almighty 40 games without defeat.

In truth, there is no debating his ability as a top-tier coach. There just remains the age-old question of whether this can translate into success in England with one of the country's most desperate sides.

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Zinedine Zidane United Manager Odds @ 3/1

Erik ten Hag

With Conte bringing to the table six league titles in 11 seasons which includes a Premier League triumph just as Zidane ruled Europe three times, Erik ten Hag is clutching at straws to persuade the United board to sign him. In fact, in reality, hiring ten Hag wouldn't be too far away from the inexperience of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the Dutch manager has only ever coached in his homeland and with Bayern Munich's second team.

Furthermore, in the four seasons ten Hag has been at Ajax, he's only won the Eredivisie twice and the KNVB Cup twice, both of which came in doubles in 2017/18 and last season. Of course, this is all commendable and winning any league title deserves credit, but just how Solskjaer won the league trophy with Molde in Norway, ten Hag's triumphs in the Netherlands must be taken with a pinch of salt as their league is very far from the competitiveness and toughness of the unforgiving Premier League.

The current Ajax boss still remains on the radar of many top clubs and even Newcastle United have reportedly eyed him up as a replacement for Steve Bruce in their new era. Ten Hag currently boasts a 73% win rate with Ajax, and his Champions League semi-finals run with the club back in 2018/19 remains arguably his most notable achievement as winning the league title with the Amsterdam outfit is merely an expectation rather than a success.

Ten Hag has also shown great ability working with young talent such as Matthijs de Ligt and none of than United outcast, Donny van de Beek and much of the above notes do point towards a successful appointment. However, with league titles wins expected at Ajax, logically, it seems to make more sense to analyse what Zidane and Conte would bring to the club more, as they have performed and excelled in Europe's top five leagues.

Who should united get?

For us, it's Conte.

Winning the FA Cup and the Premier League inside two seasons while also getting to another FA Cup final should be enough to get the job in itself. Add on top of this the fact Chelsea's squad back then saw the likes of Victor Moses, Marcos Alonso and Gary Cahill excel against the odds, and this United squad should flourish with better personal under his leadership.

Zidane makes a lot of sense, he does. But with Conte you get the added Premier League riches and for this reason, there is nobody else out there to take the helm at United.