Mauricio Pochettino has handed Manchester United a huge boost as they weigh up potential alternatives to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the Argentine reportedly keen to return to the Premier League.
The Red Devils have endured a difficult start to the new season, suffering embarrassingly one-sided defeats at home to rivals Liverpool and Manchester City to leave them nine points adrift of top spot after just 11 games.
That has seen Solskjaer’s position come under immense scrutiny, though United’s board are still believed to be giving their backing to the under-pressure Norwegian.
United’s stance could change if their form does not improve dramatically, however, and Solskjaer faces a decisive run of games after the international break against Villarreal and Chelsea, both away, before Arsenal visit Old Trafford at the start of December.
While the club still retain faith in Solskjaer, they are believed to have drawn up a shortlist of potential replacements that could be drafted in.
Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers – who has a clause in his contract should a Champions League club come in for him – is the standout favourite, while Ajax’s Erik ten Hag and Zinedine Zidane would also be considered.
In different circumstances, former Tottenham boss Pochettino might be United’s number one target, with the Argentine having a number of admirers at Old Trafford – not least legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
But Paris Saint-Germain recently triggered a clause in his contract to extend his deal until 2023, meaning he will cost a lot of money to extract from the French capital.
However, United’s hopes of luring Pochettino to Manchester have been boosted with The Telegraph reporting that the 49-year-old wants to return to the Premier League in his next job.
That has put him firmly back on United’s radar, though the difficulty is getting the timing right: if United pull the trigger on Solskjaer in the coming months, they will likely have to overlook Pochettino in favour of a more attainable manager.
But if they hold off until the end of the season, Pochettino may feel he has accomplished everything he wants to with PSG – the side are already 10 points clear in Ligue 1 and heavy favourites for the title – and by then will have entered the final year of his contract with the French side.
For his part, Pochettino is believed to be slightly disappointed with the criticism he has received since taking over at the Parc des Princes despite dominating in Ligue 1 and making an unbeaten start to their Champions League campaign.
It could be that Pochettino falls into United’s lap next summer, but only if Solskjaer can survive the season; if United do sack the Norwegian sooner rather than later, Rodgers remains the likeliest manager to take over.
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