Who are the main contenders to take the Manchester United job? We discuss their suitability for the role and ask our writers for their verdicts.
His current situation: The current PSG boss signed a one-year extension on his contract in the summer, taking his deal to 2023. However, despite the club being clear at the top of Ligue 1, Pochettino is interested in replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Manchester United manager and is the club’s first choice, according to Sky Sports News. He is still living in a hotel in Paris, with his wife remaining in the family home in England with his son Maurizio, who plays for Watford’s U23s.
His footballing philosophy: As a student of Marcelo Bielsa, high-energy football where the focus on the team is everything. He suffers no fools or egos and has a proven track record of improving young players.
Pochettino missed out on the United job in 2016 when the club went down the Jose Mourinho route in order to try and win trophies at any cost – a decision that, with hindsight, was clouded with short-termism. Pochettino will offer them a longer-term plan. He is the clear favourite for the job.
His current situation: The 49-year-old has been out of work since leaving Real Madrid earlier this year meaning there would be no compensation package required to get him. He won three consecutive Champions League titles with the club from 2016 showcasing his ability to find solutions in big-pressure matches. However, the early noises emerging from his camp aren’t positive, with reports stating he wouldn’t be interested in the job.
La Liga TV‘s Semara Hunter told Sky Sports News: “I think he’s holding out for the France job. Or there could be a domino effect – with Pochettino heading to Manchester United, maybe he’d look to go to PSG, which would be a good fit for him. If he did go there he’d stand a good chance of winning even more Champions Leagues.”
His footballing philosophy: Unlike elite managerial peers like Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, Zidane doesn’t have an obvious ideology on how to play the game. His teams usually just win. He likes his team to be traditionally very well-organised but to label him a defensive coach would be unfair. At Real, it was his simplicity in being able to get his big stars at the club confident and firing whilst also using a shrewd tactical flexibility during games to change a sticky situation into a winning one. Solskjaer’s critics would point to his lack of that ability as a huge reason for his downfall at the club.
His current situation: The Leicester manager has been linked with the Old Trafford post but Rodgers says there is no truth to suggestions he would be prepared to swap Leicester for United and insists his only focus is on getting his current club back up the table after a tame start to the season. United have reportedly ‘made contact’ with Rodgers, according to The Sun. That report also stated that a compensation package of £8million would be required to get Rodgers out of Leicester.
Rodgers said on Saturday: “I spoke to the [players’] leadership group because I hear little bits and pieces and it just stabilises everything. They know my commitment to them, they know my commitment to the club, to here, so also to us becoming a better team.”
His footballing philosophy: Exciting, attacking football. The 48-year-old has shown throughout his time in the Premier League with Swansea, Liverpool and Leicester that his teams play with great energy and give freedom to gifted attacking players – an area Manchester United are well stocked in. You get the impression taking on a job like United – that comes with so much pressure to win – would be an environment Rodgers would take in his stride having built up plenty of experience at Anfield and when in Scotland with Celtic.
Erik ten Hag
His current situation: With 18 months left on his deal at Ajax, the impressive Dutchman is approaching a crossroads in his managerial career. He has won two titles with Ajax – it would have been three if the 19/20 season had not been disrupted by Covid-19. The reason he’s on the radar of clubs like Manchester United, though, comes from his record in the Champions League. He led the club to the semi-finals in 2019, when they led 3-0 against Tottenham after half-time in the second leg but were on the end of a famous Spurs comeback. This season they top a Champions League group that contains Borussia Dortmund.
His footballing philosophy: He has an excellent knack of getting the best out of his players and improving them individually. Known as a very serious operator that isn’t afraid of speaking his mind, he is football obsessed and is very meticulous in his preparation for matches.
Dutch football journalist, Marcel van der Kraan, speaking to Sky Sports News, said: “Ajax are already contemplating that they will not hold onto him this summer. I’ve always thought he’d be heading for Germany but if Manchester United do come for him, he’ll be prepared. He has to see progression. Tottenham wasn’t the right club for him at the right time. He needs the possibility to win trophies.
“He’s brought football that the fans want to see – he brings attacking football, something the Ajax fans are used to seeing. With limited resources, he has created miracles in the Champions League.
“Everywhere he’s been, he’s implemented his own style revolved around attacking football with wingers. He’s not pass, pass, pass. It’s attack-minded football.”