Manchester United will appoint an interim manager as soon as possible from a five-man shortlist featuring Ralf Rangnick, Ernesto Valverde, Lucien Favre, Rudi Garcia and one another, as they bid to save their season.
The Old Trafford hierarchy are fully focused on bringing in a temporary manager until the end of the season and are hoping he will oversee the sort of turnaround Rafael Benitez and Guus Hiddink provided during interim spells at Chelsea.
United have not approached Paris St-Germain to inquire about Mauricio Pochettino’s availability, despite the former Tottenham coach’s interest in succeeding Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as permanent manager, and the French club are adamant he will not be allowed to leave before the end of the season.
Old Trafford insiders have never had an expectation that a club of PSG’s stature would be willing to part company with their manager now. Pochettino is expected to be part of the conversation about a long-term successor for Solskjaer, but it is premature to suggest he would be the front-runner.
Instead, United - who were having posters of Solskjaer outside Old Trafford taken down yesterday - are pressing ahead with the appointment of an interim manager after interviewing Rangnick, Valverde, Favre and Garcia in addition to a fifth foreign candidate.
Officials will then turn their full attention to finding a permanent replacement for the Norwegian.
Michael Carrick, the current caretaker, is braced to take charge against Premier League leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday if an interim is not appointed before then. United are due to face Arsenal at Old Trafford next Thursday, and there is a desire to make the appointment as quickly as possible.
Carrick oversaw a 2-0 win against Villarreal in Spain on Tuesday that guaranteed United’s progress to the Champions League knockout stage as group winners and lifted the mood after a tumultuous past week.
John Murtough, United’s football director, is leading the search for an interim manager and has been busy conducting interviews this week.
Rangnick, 63, the former RB Leipzig and Schalke coach, is head of sports and development at Lokomotiv Moscow, but the other candidates are not in jobs.
Valverde, 57, who guided Barcelona to back-to-back La Liga titles and the Copa del Rey, left the Nou Camp in January last year. Former Roma coach Garcia, also 57, who led Lille to a league and cup double in 2010-’11 and Marseille to the Europa League final in 2018, was in charge of Lyon when they knocked Manchester City out of the Champions League last year, but he left the French club at the end of last season.
Favre, 64, who won two Swiss titles with FC Zurich and has previously managed Hertha Berlin, Nice and Borussia Monchengladbach, had 18 months at the helm at Borussia Dortmund before departing 11 months ago. Although none of the candidates named have experience of managing in the Premier League, they are all seasoned coaches and United hope they will be able to reverse the team’s slide after seven defeats in Solskjaer’s final 13 games in charge.
Pochettino had left the door open to a move to Old Trafford, but senior sources at both United and PSG denied there had been an approach for the 49-year-old, even though the French club are aware he is interested in succeeding Solskjaer.
PSG believe it would be damaging for a club of their size and ambition - winning the Champions League this season is their goal - to lose their coach midway through a campaign.
However, it appears they would be willing to enter into negotiations at the end of the campaign, even though Pochettino would still have another year left on his contract. An extension until June 2024 was triggered last summer, with Tottenham Hotspur interested in taking Pochettino back. It is understood he wanted to return to Spurs.
PSG are aware that former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane would be interested in taking over when Pochettino eventually leaves.
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