Manchester United: Eric Cantona Director of Football odds cut

Cantona

Odds suggest Eric Cantona to be Manchester United director of football

The odds for Eric Cantona to become the director of football at Manchester United have been cut, that is following the Frenchman's cryptic post on Instagram. The club legend posted an image of himself facing away from the camera on a stage, alongside a caption which read: "I can't tell you anything but you will love it! @manchesterunited".

That has led to plenty of speculation about exactly what he is talking about, and many are now linking him with a role at Old Trafford. A flurry of bets have been placed on the 52-year-old becoming the Red Devils new director of football, with Paddy Power slashing his odds down from 5/1 into evens which means that he is now the favourite to take up the role.

Cantona is a firm fans favourite at Manchester United. He joined them from Leeds United back in 1992 and helped the club win four Premier League titles and two FA Cups, whilst also captaining the side in the 1996-97 season. He is credited with playing a key role in taking United back to the top of the English game, but could he really be set for a return to the club in a director of football role?

Manchester United to appoint first director of football

After sacking Jose Mourinho last December, Manchester United are planning to restructure the way in which the club operates. That entails creating the director of football role, a position which the Old Trafford club have never filled before now.

A director of football looks after all of the football operations in clubs according to Les Reed, who when speaking to the BBC about what the role entails said: "Recruitment, which takes up most of your time, contract negotiation, player development, the development of all teams from the academy through to the first-team squad, and being responsible for the manager."

Under Sir Alex Ferguson's reign there was no need for one, he was like a manager and director of football rolled into one taking care of the team, recruitment and putting the clubs philosophy into practice. But since he retired three different managers have come and gone, none of whom have enjoyed overwhelming success at the club despite spending a vast amount of money.

The hope is that appointing someone in this role would improve links from boardroom level, in particular vice-chairman Ed Woodward, down to the first team, something which appeared to be fractured during Mourinho's reign. It should see two people working together in terms of recruitment, ensuring the right players are signed and there is no more money wasted. They also believe that it will help the club maintain its core values, such as playing an exciting and attacking brand of football as well as developing their young talent.

The model of having a director of football is one that is predominantly used on the continent, but there are examples of it working well in England in recent years. Indeed United's neighbours Manchester City have used it to good effect, appointing former Barcelona technical director Txiki Begiristain in 2012 which eventually helped them to persuade Pep Guardiola to join them four years later.

Is Eric Cantona the right man for the job?

It would certainly be an interesting choice for Manchester United to appoint Cantona as their director of football. Whilst he is undoubtedly a legend at the club, he is something of a maverick and it is questionable as to whether his personality would suit such an important position of authority at one of the world's biggest football clubs.

In terms of the role, he has actually held a position previously at another club which is similar to this one. In 2011 he took over as director of soccer at the New York Cosmos so he does have some experience, however he was sacked in controversial circumstances after a confrontation with a photographer in 2014. This again calls his personality into question in terms of holding such an important role. Indeed it is just one of a number of controversial moments in Cantona's career, the most infamous being the kung-fu kick in the 1994/95 season.

It was also revealed by the New York Cosmos later on that Cantona's job at the club was largely ceremonial, suggesting that instead of performing the actual duties of a person in that position he was instead there to be a "promotor and brand ambassador". With all of that in mind, there is a strong argument to suggest that actually the Frenchman does not fit the criteria to become Manchester United's new director of football, especially when you consider some of the other names in the frame.

Who else are bookmakers offering odds on?

There are a number of other names behind Cantona in the betting, with Paul Mitchell currently the second favourite with odds of 3/1. The 37-year-old is seen by many as an ideal candidate for the role including former United defender Gary Neville. He is currently the head of recruitment and development at RB Leipzig and has also previously worked at both Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur with Mauricio Pochettino, a man who has been linked with the Manchester United manager's job.

Mitchell, who was born in Manchester, is credited with playing a key role in attracting the likes of Sadio Mane and Dusan Tadic to Southampton as well as helping to sign Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Kieran Trippier at Spurs.

He was particularly influential in the signing of Alli, persuading Pochettino that the young England midfielder could make the step up from MK Dons in League One to the Premier League. He also likes seeing youth players promoted progress through the club and reportedly refuses to sign players if he believes it will block certain youngster's routes into the first team, which will be popular amongst most Manchester United fans.

If the Red Devils still plan on trying to hire Pochettino in the summer then Mitchell looks a standout candidate. However it is becoming increasingly more likely that they will instead stick with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who is now 1/4 to get the job on a permanent basis, which could put a spanner in the works.

Other names in the frame include two experienced figures in Monchi and Andrea Berta who are both currently in high profile roles at Roma and Atletico Madrid respectively. Paddy Power are offering odds of 11/2 and 11/1 for the pair, whilst also placing Edwin van der Sar (4/1) and Fabio Paratici (11/2) firmly in the frame.

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