Since parting ways with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, Manchester United's season has been dominated by the hunt for a new manager.
Veteran German manager Ralf Rangnick has stepped in and while there has been some decent attacking football on display and some nominally okay results, the red side of Manchester will end yet another season trophyless.
With a break in the domestic league, Manchester United are ramping up the search for a new full-time manager and sources indicate that the race is down to Argentine coach Mauricio Pochettino and Dutch manager Erik Ten Hag.
We used the most up-to-date version of the 'Football Manager 22' database and let the simulation run for 5 seasons.
We ran a similar simulation last October when Solskajer's job looked in danger, and we've crunched the numbers using the latest version of 'Football Manager', including the January transfer window update.
In simulation one, we put PSG and former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino in the hot seat, and in simulation two, we put Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag in charge of The Red Devils.
Both managers had wildly different versions of success.
The Pochettino Era
Manchester United poach Mauricio Pochettino from PSG, and excitement grows around Old Trafford as fans hope the man from Murphy, Argentina, is the manager to bring the glory days back to Manchester United.
Pochettino's first order of business is to bring in Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen from Napoli for €120 million.
The Pochettino era can be described as having a decent amount of success, and the big-money signing is representative of the Pochettino era; it couldn't live up to the hype.
41 league goals in 108 games didn't exactly set the Premier League alight, but the player did struggle with injuries, falling to a broken leg and damaged cruciate ligaments in his spell at United.
The other big-money signings of the Pochettino era include Napoli midfielder Fabián being signed for €95 million in 2023, AC Milan midfielder general Sandro Tonali for €117 million in the same transfer window.
The Manchester side sensationally pulls off a coup with the €115 million signing of Spanish star Yeremy Pino who takes the famous number 7 shirt.
United's centre-back is bolstered by the arrival of Dayot Upamecano from Bayern Munich and Fiorentina's Serbian no-nonsense defender Nikola Milenekovic, and under Pochettino, the win ratio jumps to 62%.
A few years into the Pochettino regime, the centre-back pairing of Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire seems like a bad dream to United fans, and United have two world-class centre-backs running the show, with veteran Frenchman Raphael Varane deputising.
United's financial power remains unmatched, and this translates to relatively decent success on the pitch.
United fail to win the league under Pochettino, with one runner-up finish in the league and two third-place finishes peppered with consistent top 5 finishes.
The FA Cup does make a comeback to Old Trafford, with United winning the 2025 edition of the tournament ensuring, with the Red Devils also taking home the Europa League in 2023.
On the other side of Manchester, iconic manager Pep Guardiola resigns to take the reins with his native Spain and Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany proves that City could hire anyone and win the league.
Buoyed by an unstoppable Erling Haaland scooping 146 goals in 181 games (yes, really) the Premier League never came close to returning to the Red side of Manchester.
In the 2024 season, United finish 2nd on 84 points, with City sitting pretty at the top on 94, which represented their most serious title challenge.
In the Champions League, United came close to replicating the glory of the Ferguson years, with a 4-0 shellacking at the hands of Manchester City in the 2024 Champions League final serving as a bitter pill to swallow.
Under Pochettino, the side made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League twice, with the streak only being broken by a 6th place finish in 2026.
Pochettino is currently preparing for his 5th full season in our simulation and the manager has settled on a 4-3-3 formation, with Bruno Fernandes dropping into the centre of the pitch with Tonali.
Fernandes replaced Harry Maguire as captain in 2024, and while his goal-scoring contributions have dropped, the Portuguese captain chips in with nearly 20 assists per season in the league.
The Pochettino era has been a qualified success, but after 5 years in the job and no substantial title challenge coupled with a reluctance to promote young players, Pochettino faces an unclear future in the hot seat.
The Ten Hag era
Fans will be well aware that Ten Hag interviewed for the job earlier this week, and by all accounts, the Dutchman is a serious contender for the United job.
The Dutchman seems like a perfect fit for the club so we gave him the reins in 'Football Manager'.
Ten Hag boasts a brand of attacking, exciting football, has a clear emphasis on signing domestic players, and prides himself on developing youth talent.
The Dutchman spends over €250 million to bring the glory days back to United, but the Dutchman confounds critics by spending big on players you wouldn't expect.
Last summer, €142 million was spent on bringing in big names like Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo.
In the world of 'Football Manager', €250 million gets you Leicester's Timothy Castagne, AC Milan's Alexis Saelemaekers, Sporting Lisbon's Pedro Gonclaves and Brighton's Lewis Dunk.
Christan Eriksen and AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie are brought in on free transfers, and the big summer of movement means that Ten Hag intends to rebuild United in his image.
To put it politely, the Ten Hag era is a disaster.
Manchester United are in 11th place in October when the club decide to part ways with Ten Hag, with 6 losses in the Premier League sealing his fate.
The first signs of trouble were spotted early on for Ten Hag; the team only won one pre-season friendly on their tour of South Korea, and a 5-2-2-1 formation did the Dutchman no favours.
Stars like Ronaldo, Sancho, Cavani, Rashford are benched, and fans presumably begin a campaign to bring back Louis Van Gaal after Ten Hag persists with the unholy defensive team of Lewis Dunk, Victor Lindelof and Sebastian Coates.
United succeed Ten Hag with Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini.
United finish the season that started with Ten Hag in 8th place, with injuries to Bruno Fernandes and Ronaldo depriving the team of their main goalscoring threat.
If you thought that signing a player from the American league was a big gamble, you would be right.
Brenner, brought in from FC Cincinnati, scores 5 goals in 28 games in his season as United's main striker.
There you have it; two wildly different versions of what could happen should United hire either Mauricio Pochettino or Erik Ten Hag.
At time of writing, both men are considered the front-runners for the job, and the manager will be in place by the time the next edition of 'Football Manager' releases later this year.
In our review of 'Football Manager 22' we praised the game for introducing an emphasis on stats, which we dubbed as the most important development to happen to the game for years.
With 'Football Manager 23', we can only hope for more outrageous scenarios such as United hiring an exciting, attacking manager and making them play 5 men in defence.