Pochettino, Zidane or Rodgers — likely names to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the next Manchester United manager

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November 24, 2021 4:02 PM

The club could go for an interim managerial appointment till the end of the season, similar to how Solskjaer joined the club following Jose Mourinho’s sacking in 2018.

ronaldo unitedUnited had to announce former midfielder Michael Carrick as a temporary manager in the absence of a proven candidate to replace Solskjaer. (AP)

Manchester United are on the hunt for their fifth permanent manager following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday.

United had to announce former midfielder Michael Carrick as a temporary manager in the absence of a proven candidate to replace Solskjaer. The club could go for an interim managerial appointment till the end of the season, similar to how Solskjaer joined the club following Jose Mourinho’s sacking in 2018.

Although the Glazer family, which owns United, are seemingly staring at a blank sheet of paper in their managerial search, FE Online takes a look at the potential candidates who can take the Old Trafford side back to the pinnacle.

Mauricio Pochettino
A one-time favourite to replace Mourinho at United, the Argentine is in his first full season as Paris Saint-Germain manager and remains the Glazers’ top choice to replace Solskjaer.

Reports in England have suggested Pochettino is open to the idea of joining United, even in mid-season, meaning the beleaguered English giants have an opportunity to finally land their man. Pochettino recently signed a two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain and the cash-rich club could demand a huge compensation to let their manager walk. Regardless, Pochettino’s record of developing an attacking and exciting young team at Tottenham Hotspur makes him the favourite for the United top brass, who must decide if they have the might to take on Paris Saint-Germain.

Brendan Rodgers
Despite Leicester City’s struggles this season, the former Liverpool manager is highly regarded at Old Trafford as the best domestic option.

The Foxes’ struggles this season has been down to injuries to key players, but Rodgers has delivered a spot in Europe and an FA Cup win — all tangible success for the Northern Irishman. He is also a coach who delivers the attacking football craved by United supporters.

His Liverpool past could be seen as a downside. The United hierarchy wouldn’t want to be seen as hiring a Liverpool reject, but Rodgers improved all the clubs he has coached — Swansea, Liverpool, Celtic, and Leicester — proving that he has the track record.

Zinedine Zidane
A three-time UEFA Champions League winner and out of work, the mercurial Frenchman got the best out of the biggest names at Real Madrid, making him an obvious contender for the Old Trafford hot seat. However, the fact United haven’t already hired the former French international points to doubts to his suitability.

Reports said Zidane, whose English is limited, has no real desire to work in England and would prefer to coach Paris Saint-Germain or France. Despite his record at Real, United are concerned over his ability to make good players better. His track record of promoting youth players during his two stints at Real was also dismal.

Zidane is unlikely to take over at United. But as long as he remains available and United don’t land any of their preferred targets, both parties could be tempted to compromise.

Erik Ten Hag
The 51-year-old is a rising star, with his Ajax team winning successive league and cup doubles. The Dutchman has worked his way up the ranks, serving two years with Bayern Munich’s reserve team before joining Ajax.

Despite his experience of developing a young team in Ajax, Ten Hag’s lack of experience at the top level in a major league makes him a risky appointment. The likes of Donny van de Beek and Hakim Ziyech have struggled to transition to the Premier League from Eredivisie and Ten Hag might require one more step on the ladder before taking on the challenge at Old Trafford.

Michael Carrick
The former midfielder won every major honour during his 12 years at Old Trafford before stepping up to his coaching position. He was elevated to caretaker manager following Solskjaer’s sacking and is regarded as a stop-gap until an interim manager comes in. However, if the former England man can turn things around, he could be given an extension until the season’s end.

Reports said United are determined to hire a proven manager in the summer, but after disrupting that same plan to hire Solskjaer on a full-time basis, Carrick could be a serious contender if he gets the results.

Laurent Blanc
The Frenchman was considered for an interim role following Mourinho’s departure and could finally get the opportunity this time around. Having played for United between 2001 and 2003, the former France and Paris Saint-German manager would be a good short-term fit.

Blanc is currently in charge of Qatar Stars League side Al-Rayyan, but things haven’t gone to plan there for the Frenchman with his team in eighth in the 12-team league. Blanc enjoyed Ligue 1 success in Bordeaux and Paris Saint-Germain earlier in his career, winning the league and cups with both teams. But his career has gone downhill since leaving Paris Saint-Germain in 2016.

Carlo Ancelotti
The chain-smoking Italian is one of the most successful managers in club football history and comes with Premier League experience as well, having won the double with Chelsea before his brief stint at Everton.

However, United would find it difficult to tempt the former AC Milan manager from Real Madrid after Ancelotti pulled out all the stops to return to the club earlier this year. That said, Ancelotti has repeatedly spoken of his respect for Manchester United and having managed the biggest clubs in Spain, Italy, and France, he might just be tempted to try his hand at returning the biggest club in England to its perch.

Gareth Southgate
The former Middlesbrough manager signed on fresh terms to extend his England deal barely 24 hours after Solskjaer’s exit, seemingly ending any prospect of taking over at United. He will also find it difficult to pass up the chance of leading England at the 2022 World Cup in 12 months, especially after the success in the 2018 edition and Euro 2020.

That said, Southgate could remain a target for his trust in young players, discipline, and readiness to work within a football structure, especially after he transformed England from also-rans to genuine contenders. He is a clear outsider, but even with a World Cup looming, it would be a big call for an Englishman to reject Manchester United.

Didier Deschamps
The Frenchman is a highly respected figure in the national team, but he is in a similar situation to Southgate. France will go to Qatar as the defending world champions and the man who led the team to the World Cup as captain in 1998 would loathe the opportunity to etch his name in the history books as the first person to win the World Cup as a player once and manager twice.

The former Juventus boss is, however, likely to step down from his position at the end of the World Cup, but that would mean United would need to find a stop-gap who will take charge for half of next season before Deschamps takes the reins.

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