Why Leonardo Jardim, not Zidane, should be Manchester United’s next manager

Two years ago, Leonardo Jardim led an upstart AS Monaco side to the Ligue 1 title and the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League.

On October 11, Jardim was sacked, as a floundering Monaco dropped to 18th in the French top flight, with just six points from their opening nine games.

Monaco’s staggering fall from grace isn’t necessarily a reflection on Jardim, who was made the scapegoat. Rather, it is the direct result of Monaco’s place on the totem pole of world football: they are a feeder club, who recycle young talent on almost a yearly basis. They snatch up wonder kids from various lower clubs around Europe, develop them into stars, and sell them for massive sums of money.

In his 4+ years as Monaco manager, Jardim sold the following players: James Rodriguez to Real Madrid for 45 million euros; Anthony Martial for 36 million euros; Geoffrey Kondogbia to Inter for 36 million euros; Yannick Carrasco to Atletico Madrid for 25 million euros; Benjamin Mendy to Manchester City for 59 million euros; Bernardo Silva, also to Manchester City, for 50 million euros; Thomas Lemar to Atletico Madrid for 65 million euros; Fabinho to Liverpool for 50 million euros; Tiemoue Bakayoko for 36 million euros; and Kylian Mbappe to PSG for 166 million euros, the second most expensive transfer fee of all time.

Not all of those players have thrived since leaving Monaco. While some, such as Mbappe, have furthered their profile as global superstars, others have flopped, as outlined in this quite brilliant tweet:

Jardim’s Monaco played a brilliant, attractive style of attacking football. They took on the best teams in France and in Europe, and often came out on top. Jardim is outstanding at developing young talent, creating cohesion within a squad, and playing attractive, attacking football.

A team that is in desperate need of all three of those important qualities? Manchester United, who are floundering both on and off the pitch under the controversial management of Jose Mourinho.

The squad is unhappy– particularly Paul Pogba, who has publicly feuded with Mourinho, who claimed the World Cup winning midfielder will never captain the club again.

Many of the teams promising young players, chief among them Marcus Rashford, have seen stagnation in their growth under Mourinho, who has also minimized the impacts of Anthony Martial. Many of United’s bright attacking stars are badly out of form, often playing out of position.

Even some of the more established attackers are floundering– Alexis Sanchez, despite a late winner vs. Newcastle United, has not yet found his footing at Old Trafford. Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic, and even Pogba have had long spells of ineffectiveness under the pragmatic and often defensive-minded management of Mourinho.

As pressure continues to mount vs. the Portuguese’s regime, fans and pundits alike have begun to ponder who would replace Mourinho, should he get sacked.

The first name to come to mind has been Zinedine Zidane. The French footballing legend recently left Real Madrid after two and a half years, in which he won La Liga once and the Champions League an unprecedented three times in a row.

When Zidane took over Real Madrid, they were also in somewhat of a crisis– with their rivals, FC Barcelona, thriving, Los Blancos were sputtering under the management of Rafa Benitez, who was sacked around this time. Zidane immediately righted the ship– Real gave Barcelona a real run for their money in La Liga, while also winning the Champions League in penalties over rivals Atletico Madrid.

Zidane is a superstar candidate, but Jardim may actually be better suited for a long term project.

Manchester United are not a feeder club by any means– they attract some of the top talent in the world, and their brand is surpassed by few, if any clubs in world football.

Once Jardim would implement his system, and formulate a squad to his liking, he could mold them into a superpower for years to come.

Imagine if Monaco had kept hold of Mbappe, or Bernardo Silva, or any of their prized young gems. Imagine if they also had the budget to add to that amazing squad? They would surely be world beaters.

Jardim has a track record of attacking football. He has a track record of cultivating squad unity. And, most importantly, he has a proven track record of elevating young talent to new heights.

Manchester United are a squad, and a club, in dire need of stability and reinvention. Mourinho didn’t work. But with a budget, and financial stability to boot, Leonardo Jardim could truly transform Manchester United back into the global giant they once were.

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