Man United’s options, Solskjaer. to replace
Manchester United are looking for a new coach for the fifth time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s resignation in 2013 after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 35-month tenure ended on Sunday.
The lack of a proven – and available – candidate for Solskjaer has led United to announce that former midfielder Michael Carrick will temporarily take over the post until an interim manager is appointed until the end of the season. But while United owners, the Glazer family, start with a blank sheet of paper when looking for a new manager, there are a number of high-profile candidates.
So who are the top contenders for one of the toughest jobs in football?
– Marcotti: What is Man United’s post-Solskjaer plan?
– Ogden: Pochettino is open to a job at United, but can that happen?
– Dawson: Why Solskjaer’s tenure at Old Trafford fell apart
The Paris Saint-Germain manager is United’s first choice to replace Solskjaer. Mauricio Pochettino was also the main target to replace Jose Mourinho in 2018-19, but Solskjaer’s initial success as an interim manager led United to abandon their hunt for Pochettino to give Solskjaer a permanent contract.
Sources have told ESPN that Pochettino is ready to leave PSG for United, which means that Old Trafford club have a real chance of finally getting their man, although it’s not that easy. Pochettino signed a two-year deal with PSG this summer and the Ligue 1 club, one of the richest in the world, are expected to demand a huge compensation package if they even consider an approach from United. Regardless, Pochettino’s record in developing an exciting young team at Tottenham has made him the preferred pick of United’s top squad, so now it’s up to them to decide if they’re ready to take on PSG.
After Manchester United considered Mauricio Pochettino before handing the job over to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the PSG coach is their top candidate this time around. Getty
Although Leicester City has struggled to replicate the performances of the last two years under Rodgers this season, the former Liverpool and Celtic manager is seen by high-ranking United figures as the best domestic option to replace Solskjaer.
Injuries to key players like Wesley Fofana, James Justin and Youri Tielemans have hurt Leicester this season, but a spot on the European stage and a first FA Cup win at King Power Stadium is a tangible achievement and that’s thanks to Rodgers. He is also hailed as a coach who delivers the attractive, offensive football that United fans have come to ask for.
The downside is its Liverpool past. United doesn’t want to be seen as the hiring of a man sacked by their biggest rivals, but Rodgers made improvements to Liverpool, Celtic and Leicester and confirmed that he has the track record that United needs.
An unemployed manager with three Champions League titles and a proven ability to get the most out of some of the biggest names in football at Real Madrid seems like an obvious contender. But the fact that United didn’t hire Zidane already suggests doubts on both sides about his suitability for the job at Old Trafford.
Sources have told ESPN that Zidane, whose English language skills are limited, doesn’t have a strong desire to work in England and that he would prefer coaching France or Paris Saint-Germain. And despite his track record at Real, sources at United have said there are concerns about his ability to improve good players rather than just managing the big ones’ egos.
Zidane is unlikely to become United’s next manager, but while he’s still available, both parties could be tempted to overcome their reservations if their preferred options prove unreachable.
ERIK TEN HAG
The 51-year-old Ten Hag is an up-and-coming star who has led Ajax to a one-two league and cup wins in the Netherlands. As a former central defender whose playing career was limited to stints at Twente, Utrecht and RKC Waalwijk, Ten Hag worked his way through the coaching ranks, including two years with the reserve team of FC Bayern Munich before moving to Ajax.
But despite building a young, dynamic team in the Ajax tradition, Ten Hag’s lack of world-class experience in a major league makes him a risky appointment for United. The transition from the Eredivisie to the Premier League is difficult, as highlighted recently by players like Donny van de Beek and Hakim Ziyech at Old Trafford.
The former United midfielder, who has won all major accolades during his 12-year playing career at Old Trafford, has risen to the role of caretaker following Solskjaer’s departure from his coaching position. The 40-year-old is currently only seen as a stopgap pending the appointment of an interim manager, but if he can get earnings up, include an extension until the end of the season.
Sources said United is determined to stick to the process of hiring a proven manager next summer, but after tearing up the same plan of leaving Solskjaer the job on a full-time basis, Carrick could become a serious contender if the results get him and her the team dynamics.
Carrick as a permanent manager is a very long deal, but given the club’s previous approach to hiring a manager, it would be foolish to reject him entirely as a candidate.
– ESPN + guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more (USA)
– Stream ESPN FC Daily to ESPN + (US only)
– You don’t have ESPN? Get instant access
If United sticks to their plan to hire an interim coach, former France and PSG coach Blanc would be a good fit, if only for his previous collaboration with United as a player under Sir Alex Ferguson between 2001 and 2003.
The 56-year-old now heads Al-Rayyan in the Qatar Stars League, but things are not going so well there, the team is eighth in the league with 12 teams. Blanc had consistent national successes in Ligue 1 early in his coaching career with Bordeaux and PSG, winning the league title and cup with both teams, but his star has been on the decline since leaving PSG in 2016.
In terms of a proven, safe couple, Blanc would bring experience and knowledge as an interim manager but don’t expect him to be on United’s list as a permanent manager right now.
The X factor when looking for United managers is Atletico Madrid manager Simeone. United tried twice to lure the Argentine to Old Trafford and failed: in 2013, before hiring David Moyes to replace Sir Alex Ferguson, and a year later, as Simeone and Jurgen Klopp United, before Louis van was appointed Gaal refused.
Simeone has never shown a great desire to work in the Premier League, but sources say he continues to be admired by the United hierarchy after making Atletico a constant challenger to Real Madrid and Barcelona duopoly in LaLiga.
After 10 years as Atletico’s boss, the prospect of a new challenge at United could now be attractive, and if the 51-year-old shows interest, the Glazers should target him alongside Pochettino.
Manchester United have courted Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone twice without success. David S. Bustamante / Soccrates / Getty Images
Sources told ESPN last month that United was ready to hire a UK manager if the top targets prove elusive, and in this case Rodgers is the lead candidate. But Potter is seen by insiders as a talented coach who is capable of taking on a big job in the Premier League after his stint at Brighton.
The failure of David Moyes, who was sacked as head of United after less than a year, would be a shadow hanging over a national appointment like Potter, and the fact remains that no English manager has ever won the Premier League title Has. But if United misses out on Pochettino and Simeone and doesn’t tempt Rodgers either, Potter might be the best option in the Premier League. However, the 46-year-old will have to win a trophy with Brighton this season or take them to Europe to have any realistic hope of being considered by United.
With the signing of a new contract as England coach on Monday, just 24 hours after Solskjaer’s departure was confirmed, Gareth Southgate appears to have put an end to any prospect of a takeover at Manchester United. With the 2022 World Cup in twelve months’ time, it’s hard to imagine Southgate missing the chance to make England world champions.
However, in terms of young player confidence, low-key management and a willingness to work within a football structure, Southgate could be a potential United target, especially after England were transformed from eternal underachievers into a team now in search of honors fights. He’s a clear underdog on any candidate list, but even with a World Cup on the horizon, turning down the chance to run Manchester United would be a big call for an Englishman.