While the Portuguese’s situation remains uncertain after the defiant 3-2 comeback against Newcastle United – and the club hierarchy are set to meet this week – with the same being true of the prospect of Zidane succeeding him, The Independent reported.
Key United executives remain split on both issues. Some think it is a fundamentally broken situation with Mourinho, but executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward remains reluctant to sack him.
Similarly, some are unsure whether Zidane’s success at Real Madrid involved the same challenges the current United situation would entail, but he is understood to be Woodward’s preferred choice if the worst does come to the worst with Mourinho.
Zidane himself is however not one of those figures who is hugely driven to be a football manager, and just wants to stay in the game, so would only be prepared to take those jobs that perfectly appeal to him. Madrid sources say he left the Bernabeu because he knew an ageing squad – that had won four Champions Leagues in five years – was in need of deep renovation, that president Florentino Perez was unwilling to fund.
And while the 46-year-old is intrigued by the idea of managing United, he has similar reservations about their squad so would want an ideal situation and all of his demands to be met to consider it. One of those is thereby control of transfers.
Zidane’s agent Alain Migliaccio did play down links to Old Trafford in an interview with Journal du Dimanche last weekend.
“I do not think that he will manage in England. It is much less his style. I have discussed it with him, it does not really attract him. He has chosen to have a year out, he will not dive in again before that is over.”
Sources say this such comments are really public posturing, though, that reflect how strong Zidane’s hand is in any job negotiation.
Woodward would however be reluctant to hand over such power as regards transfers, since he is currently in the process of trying to restructure United’s entire technical department, to introduce a more modern continental model.
The lack of any immediately available replacement is also said to be a reason why Mourinho could yet stay in the job for some time. It is understood he is highly conscious of the Zidane links, though, with that playing on his mind. For his part, the Portuguese is now said to be philosophical about his future at United amid all the doubt around it.