Manchester United are on the lookout for a new permanent manager after severing ties with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday. The Norwegian had made it through the international break unscathed despite bruising defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool in the last 30 days.
However, their 4-1 thumping at Watford on Saturday ensured the axe was finally swung.
When announcing Solskjaer’s dismissal, the club’s official statement revealed former midfielder Michael Carrick will take charge of the club’s upcoming fixtures on a caretaker basis. Carrick will then give way to an interim manager who will serve until the end of the season. At that stage, a permanent appointment will be made.
The likes of Zinedine Zidane, Brendan Rodgers, Mauricio Pochettino and Erik Ten Hag have been linked with the post. Ajax’s Ten Hag was named by Sky Sports as United’s second choice behind Pochettino.
Nonetheless, Zidane’s name continues to be mentioned. And given he is currently without work, drafting him in would be an easier task than with many of the others.
However, the Daily Express (citing El Partidazo de Cope), insist Zidane has quickly rejected a fresh United approach.
His reasoning stems from three distinct reasons. However, the last one could inadvertently aid United’s manager hunt on the Pochettino front.
Firstly, Zidane is not fluent in English and the language barrier would make his job at Old Trafford even tougher. Secondly, his wife is stated to have no interest in moving to England.
But most importantly is the third reason. It’s noted that rather than the United gig, Zidane instead has his eyes on the PSG job.
The Paris position would only become available if Pochettino were to move on. If Zidane’s interest in the PSG role was maintained until next summer, the French side would have a readymade replacement for Pochettino.
The presence of a three-time Champions League-winning manager waiting in the wings could influence PSG’s decision on whether to part ways with Pochettino. If the Argentine is indeed United’s preferred choice, Zidane’s triple rejection may ultimately work out in United’s favour.
Former United defender touted for interim role
Meanwhile, the Sun (citing the Athletic) think they know who might get the nod to become United’s interim manager. They state former Red Devils defender Laurent Blanc could be drafted in to take the reins until the summer.
The Frenchman, 56, previously managed Bordeaux, France, and PSG. He is currently in charge at Qatar side Al-Rayyan after being appointed in 2020.
Blanc has previous connections at Old Trafford. He saw out his playing days with the club in a two-year stint between 2001-03.
According to the Sun, Blanc has been ‘touted as a candidate’ to fill the void. And if appointed, he could be given the same opportunity that Solskjaer was given.
Solskjaer initially took the job on an interim basis following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho. Early results were so good – including a memorable 3-1 victory over PSG – that the Old Trafford decision makers opted to give him the gig on a permanent basis.
Blanc could get that same chance to impress if installed. Though the unsuccessful stint of Solskjaer would suggest United will now think twice about handing out long-term contracts on the back of a small body of work.