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Ally McCoist says Antonio Conte could still become the new Manchester United manager

Manchester United manager
(Image credit: Getty)

The broadcaster and former Rangers manager Ally McCoist believes Manchester United should attempt to lure Antonio Conte away from Tottenham Hotspur to become their new manager. 

The Old Trafford club are currently interviewing candidates for next season, with the Ajax manager Erik ten Hag and the Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino the leading contenders. 

But McCoist believes United should correct a mistake he believes they made earlier this season when they failed to approach Conte, who was then available, before he joined Tottenham in November. 

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“I think United missed the boat by not appointing Conte at the end of last year, and in normal circumstances you would think that ship had sailed, however, nothing surprises you in football,” McCoist tells FourFourTwo.  

“You hear the rumours that Mauricio Pochettino wants to go back to Spurs, and doesn’t fancy United, so I wouldn’t rule out Conte going to United.” 

“The one thing Conte wants is financial backing, and I am not sure he is happy with what he is getting at Spurs. He has done a few strange interviews, and made a few comments that would indicate that is the case.” 

“United have great players, but they are not a great team, and I think Conte could help mould them into that. It is a time for real change.” 

McCoist believes United should also widen their search to include two managers with title-winning credentials from La Liga. 

“I am surprised Zinedine Zidane’s name is not being mentioned more because he is clearly a manager who can handle big players at a big club, and of course, he has proved he can win the Champions League.” 

“How about Diego Simeone as well, his name hasn’t really come up much. He has done an incredible job at Atletico Madrid. Now more than ever United have to get it right, and get the right coach.” 

McCoist spent three and a half years as Rangers manager between 2011 and 2014, after having played for the club for 15 seasons and becoming their all-time leading goal scorer, but the former Scottish international has always appreciated the work done at the grassroots level of the game. 

McCoist has been helping to promote the National Lottery Football Weekends campaign, which is making more than 100,000 tickets available for selected matches on a “buy one, get one free” basis.

The National Lottery has invested more than £5.7 billion into grassroots sport since it was established in 1994, including £12.5 million of funding to community football clubs during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

On Friday McCoist visited non-league Altrincham, who are thriving with home crowds having doubled since before the pandemic, to see the work they do in the community, including hosting weekly walking football sessions. 

“I first fell in love with football through grassroots, that was where I got my education about the game, so it has been great to see what’s happening at these clubs,” says McCoist. “My Dad was on the committee of a junior team in East Kilbride, and that is where I went to watch my first football.”

“I loved watching the junior teams. My Dad would get a pint; I would get a packet of crisps and a can of Coke. That really was the best part of my weekend. I love watching Manchester City versus Liverpool these days, but the importance of the grassroots sides can never be underestimated. It is the foundation of the sport.” 

“When I was at Altrincham today I played a bit of walking football, and met an older lad called Colin. He is a volunteer at the club, he turns up for home games, works the turnstile, misses most of the first half, takes the money in, and does it all for free, and loves it. That’s what the game is about.” 

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Sam Pilger
Sam Pilger

Sam Pilger is a freelance sports writer who writes for Forbes, FourFourTwo, Optus Sport, The Athletic and The Times Magazine. He was previously the deputy editor of FourFourTwo magazine (lucky him), still contributes regularly and has written several books, including Manchester United's Best XI and For Club and Country with Gary and Phil Neville.