Manchester United appeared to confirm Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as interim manager at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
The Old Trafford club posted a video on their website of the Norwegian scoring the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final and referred to him as “our interim manager”. It was later deleted.
With Solskjaer seemingly set to arrive on a short-term basis, the club are looking to restructure with a technical director of football and a new permanent boss in the summer.
Who do they want and what do they want for the long term?
United’s wishlist is for someone who can:
- Get the most out of United’s big-money signings and create an identifiable style.
- Develop young players.
- Understand the philosophy, culture and core values of the club including its attacking traditions.
- Create a positive environment with players and staff.
- Work within a new structure, including reporting to a technical director of football.
So who might that permanent boss be?
He will be top of the list. His Tottenham side play attractive football, and he has spent very little in comparison to his Premier League rivals.
Spurs are largely built around players he didn’t sign, but Pochettino has a reputation for extracting the maximum out of the squad he has and has been credited with developing several young English players at the core of Gareth Southgate’s vibrant, exciting national side.
He’s known to have a human touch with players and staff, plus he already works under a chairman – Daniel Levy – who operates almost like a technical director.
Real Madrid were also interested in him last summer and, though they have Santiago Solari in place until 2021, those rumours persist. So could it be a heavyweight clash between Real and United for the services of the highly rated Argentine?
Pochettino only signed a new five-year contract at Spurs last summer and still appears to be on an upward curve at a club set to make a delayed move into a new stadium. If he could be prised out of Levy’s clutches, expect any club to pay at least £20m to release him from that deal.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Pochettino simply sent his “best wishes” to Mourinho. Asked about being a “perfect fit” for United, he replied: “A lot of rumours that happen in my position at Tottenham – I cannot answer that type of question. I am focused on doing the best I can here.”
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Three Champions League titles in three years managing one of the biggest clubs in the world at Real Madrid. How’s that for a managerial CV?
Zidane has been linked with United since he walked out of the Bernabeu in May – and there’s a train of thought he’d be able to get the best out of fellow Frenchmen Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial.
But there remains questions over his technical coaching ability and development of young players, having inherited a team of global superstars in Madrid.
He’d also be expensive in terms of wages – but given United have just spent upwards of £18m to sack Mourinho, is any fee for any manager much of an issue in order to get it right?
But if Zidane was the club’s top choice, why would they need to wait until the end of the season?
United have spoken to the Atletico Madrid boss before during previous managerial searches.
But is he the right man to follow Mourinho, given his similarly combustible reputation and functional, effective style of football?
Simeone is tactically well organised, has punched above his weight in La Liga, and is great at creating a siege mentality like legendary United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, and Mourinho, at their best.
That’s something United fans embrace – as long as it is ‘us versus them’ and not ‘me versus them’.