After a woeful few weeks culminated in a 4-1 loss at the hands of relegation-threatened Watford, Manchester United have unsurprisingly moved to sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Recent defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City saw the Old Trafford faithful start to lose faith in Solskjaer and as the poor performances and results continued, it seemed that the Norwegian was destined to leave the club sooner rather than later.
The club’s hierarchy have confirmed that Michael Carrick is set to take over on a caretaker basis, before an interim manager is appointed until the end of the season and the club will then look to hire a new permanent boss.
But who will that new permanent boss be? The current favourite is PSG’s Mauricio Pochettino, who United have been linked with for quite some time.
Brendan Rodgers and Erik ten Hag have also emerged as candidates at this stage, so let’s take a look at the credentials of each one.
The highly-rated Paris Saint-Germain head coach has been linked with a move to Old Trafford on several occasions.
The Argentine led Tottenham to second place in the 2016-17 Premier League and the Champions League final two years later, while he appears to be handling the big egos at PSG with the French giants currently 11 points clear at the top of Ligue 1.
Ernesto Valverde has been one of few men to bring some stability to Camp Nou in a turbulent few seasons in Catalonia, winning two La Liga titles and a Copa Del Rey during three years with Blaugrana, but he left in early January 2020 after a Supercopa de Espana defeat to Atletico Madrid.
Reports are now suggesting that United have made initial contact with Valverde and he too has experience of handling big personalities and winning trophies, which will no doubt appeal to the United board.
The reigning FA Cup winners, Leicester are now firmly established as one of the top teams in England, having narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification in each of the last two years.
That is mainly down to the attractive attacking style of football implemented Rodgers, who also won seven major honours at Celtic, while he steered Liverpool to within whiskers of the Premier League title in 2014.
Michael Carrick has been handed the chance to take over the reins as caretaker having previously been part of Solskjaer’s backroom staff and he is well respected at Old Trafford having made 464 appearances for the Red Devils during his playing days.
Carrick has been part of the coaching staff since Jose Mourinho’s tenure with the club but if he can guide the club to some better form in the coming weeks, he may be given an opportunity on a more permanent basis like his predecessor was.
The only manager who can boast winning three consecutive Champions League titles, Zidane is also available to approach after leaving Real Madrid for a second time in May.
The former midfield maestro, who also led Los Blancos to two LaLiga triumphs, now has plenty of experience of dealing with big egos, while he would be reunited with Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane.
Erik ten Hag
Now in his fourth full season with Ajax, where he has reaped the rewards of giving youth a chance, ten Hag has guided the Dutch giants to two Eredivisie titles along the way.
He also took them to within seconds of the 2019 Champions League final, with local products including Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong and Donny Van de Beek – who could resurrect his Old Trafford career under his old boss – embracing their opportunities to shine on the big stage.
It may come as something of a surprise given that he’s recently been removed from the Newcastle job with the Magpies struggling towards the bottom of the table, but some bookmakers are pricing former player Steve Bruce as a potential interim manager at Old Trafford.
If it’s experience that the United board are after, then Bruce certainly has that in abundance, but his recent record at this level doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, so it would be a shock if he was trusted with such a high profile position.