Five candidates to replace Solskjaer at the head of Man Utd


Manchester United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from his managerial post on Sunday © AFP / Oli SCARF

Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP), October 25 – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time as Manchester United manager finally ran out on Sunday as the Norwegian was sacked after a humiliating 4-1 loss at Watford.

Solskjaer hasn’t won a trophy in nearly three years at Old Trafford and tangible signs of progress after finishing second in the Premier League last season have been swept away amid a five-game losing streak in their last seven league matches.

United are already 12 points behind at the top of the table and the club have announced plans to appoint an interim manager until the end of the season before making a permanent appointment.

Here, AFP Sport takes a look at five of the main candidates to succeed Solskjaer:

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane has won three Champions League titles as Real Madrid coach © AFP / FRANCK FIFE

Expectations were high for United to challenge the major trophies this season after the signings of series winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane, as well as £ 73million ($ 100million) winger Jadon Sancho.

Three of Ronaldo and Varane’s Champions League titles have been won by Zidane at Real Madrid and the Frenchman is also a free agent having ended his second stint with the Spanish giants in May.

Zidane has proven himself to be a master at turning a star squad into one in Madrid, where he also won two La Liga titles.

This is exactly what United need and their global profile matches the brand-building exercise the English giants have been carrying out in recent years, sometimes to the detriment of a well-performing side on the pitch.

He is reportedly the preferred candidate of the club’s US owners, the Glazer family.

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Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers (center) led Leicester to their very first FA Cup last season © POOL / AFP / Kirsty Wigglesworth

The open option in the domestic market for United is Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers.

The Northern Irishman’s past as Liverpool manager may rule him out for many United fans, but he rebuilt his reputation from a three-year rollercoaster at Anfield between 2012 and 2015.

Rodgers has proven himself capable of handling the demands of winning every week in three years at Celtic, where he won seven domestic trophies before returning to the Premier League with Leicester.

The Foxes narrowly missed out on the Champions League over the past two seasons against Chelsea despite much lower resources and beat the European Champions to win the FA Cup for the first time in club history last season.

However, Leicester have also struggled in recent times with just two wins in their last nine league games.

Erik Ten Hag

Erik Ten Hag has Ajax on his way to the Champions League the last 16 © ANP / AFP / MAURICE VAN STEEN

The Dutchman is currently in charge of one of the form teams in Europe, with Ajax already in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Ten Hag was linked with a number of top positions after leading the quadruple European champions to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 1997, two years ago.

But unlike many of his players in this race, he has yet to be debauched by one of Europe’s top clubs.

The former Bayern Munich youth team coach would fit the attacking style demanded of a United manager.

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Luis Enrique

Luis Enrique has expressed his desire to one day become a Premier League coach © AFP / FRANCK FIFE

The Spanish coach is another with a lot of experience making the most of a collection of talented individuals.

He won the treble in his debut season at Barcelona and added another La Liga title with a top three consisting of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

Speaking fluent English, Luis Enrique has never hidden his desire to one day become a Premier League coach.

His success with Spain this year at Euro 2020 and the Nations League finals shows that he is also capable of producing an exciting squad without the same star quality he offered at Camp Nou.

Mauricio Pochettino

Manchester United could wait until the end of the season to try to bring Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino back to the Premier League © AFP / FRANCK FIFE

The Argentinian is the one that has eluded many United fans as the Red Devils kept their faith in Solskjaer while Pochettino was a free agent for more than a year after being sacked by Tottenham in 2019.

Now in charge of Paris Saint-Germain, Pochettino is unlikely to leave ship mid-season with a 12-point lead atop Ligue 1 and another chance to win the club’s very first Champions League.

However, Pochettino’s stay in the French capital has not been straightforward, especially in his relationship with PSG sporting director Leonardo.

While waiting for the end of the season to make a permanent fixture, United are opening the door to another chance to lure Pochettino to Old Trafford.

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