Manchester United make move for Juventus boss Antonio Conte
Juventus boss emerges as real contender for Old Trafford job
Antonio Conte has emerged as a dark horse in the race to be the next Manchester United manager after being sounded out about the job.
But favourites Louis van Gaal and Carlo Ancelotti have been given a boost by claims that former United manager Alex Ferguson favours an appointment that would allow caretaker Ryan Giggs to take full charge in three years.
Ferguson is also said to be keen for Gary Neville to become part of the 'Class of '92' coaching set-up at Old Trafford, with Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and brother Phil.
Van Gaal, Ancelotti and Diego Simeone remain the top candidates to permanently succeed David Moyes. Juventus manager Conte has been spoken to and is being considered as an alternative option by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
Representatives acting for United are understood to have made contact with Simeone in the past 48 hours to express the club's interest in the Atletico Madrid coach and find out whether he is open to the prospect of moving to Old Trafford.
Conte is set to lead Juventus to their third successive Serie A title since taking the reins in 2011 and the Italian club are in the semi-finals of the Europa League.
The 44-year-old's contract expires in 2015 and Juve have claimed a new deal will not be discussed until the end of the season. Sources close to Conte claim the Italian is learning English.
Conte and Simeone (43) would represent the promise of a more long-term appointment, while Van Gaal (62) and Ancelotti (54) would offer United's 'Class of '92' a wealth of experience from which to learn.
Ferguson was the guest speaker at a fundraising lunch for the Jewish charity the Community Security Trust at the Midland Hotel in Manchester yesterday with TV presenter Eamonn Holmes.
In an interview on the 'Beyond the Pitch' show on United States radio station Sirius XM, Holmes said: "Speaking to Alex Ferguson, he rates Giggs and Scholes very, very highly and he would like to see Gary Neville back in the set-up as well.
"He rates Nicky Butt very highly as well.
"From what I'm hearing from inside the club, Ryan Giggs is regarded very highly and the dream would be that in three years or so he is the man to take over."
Netherlands coach Van Gaal, when contacted last night, confirmed he was in Portugal on holiday, but refused to comment on whether he would be speaking to United in the coming days.
Woodward was in Madrid on Wednesday night and cancelled a scheduled meeting with a player's agent over a potential transfer to attend to other business. It is believed Woodward could use a trip to Portugal to speak with Van Gaal and try to tie up a deal for Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho.
The Dutch Football Federation is happy for Van Gaal to hold talks with United or Tottenham before he starts to gather his squad on May 7 for the World Cup.