Carrick calls for focus after emotional few days at Man Utd
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Manchester United are hoping to appoint Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — and the move to bring in the former Tottenham boss has backing from one senior figure in particular. Solskjaer was relieved of his duties on Saturday after nearly three years in charge.
The Norwegian’s position had become untenable after a poor run of form which saw Man United lose five of their last seven games in the Premier League.
The 4-1 defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road, in which captain Harry Maguire was sent off, was the final nail in the coffin for Solskjaer’s reign.
Michael Carrick has been placed in temporary charge of the team for their Champions League fixture against Villarreal on Tuesday.
Pochettino is believed to be the Red Devils’ top target to succeed Solskjaer, with Zinedine Zidane, Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag and Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers also on the list.
According to The Mirror, talks have begun with Pochettino’s representatives about bringing the PSG head coach back to the Premier League.
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And it is understood that Pochettino is the preferred choice of former Old Trafford boss Sir Alex Ferguson to take over at Old Trafford.
The 79-year-old retired from his post as manager after 27 years in charge back in 2013 but remains an influential part of decision-making at the club.
The legendary Scot continues to be employed by the club as a non-executive director and is regularly seen attending home fixtures and some on the road too.
His backing for Pochettino would certainly increase the likelihood of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and managing director Richard Arnold pushing through a deal.
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United are understood to have spoken with Pochettino and his camp, with the Argentine supposedly keen on a return to England after less than a year in the dugout at Parc des Princes.
The 49-year-old’s family still reside in London while he has been living in a hotel in Paris since taking charge of the Ligue 1 giants in January.
Pochettino had been previously viewed as a target when Jose Mourinho was sacked in December 2018, but he was still in charge of Tottenham at the time.
He turned Spurs into a genuine force in the Premier League with four successive top-four finishes and a Champions League final appearance in the 2018-19 season.
He has been linked with the post on several occasions when Solskjaer had been under pressure but the board backed the club legend.
And Ferguson confessed he was a fan of Pochettino’s ability as a coach during his early years at Spurs, highlighting his tendency to bring through English youngsters and still maintain success.
“Well, the manager has been fantastic,” Ferguson said, speaking back in April 2016.
“They have a bad record of managers, there is no doubt about that.
“They have had so many over the years, but this lad has composure. You never see him ruffled and the way his team play is a testimony to the work he is doing.
“The most important thing for English football is how many English and young players are in his team.
“He understands the advantage of playing young people. They won’t let you down and they have been fantastic.“
[Dele] Alli, [Harry] Kane, [Ryan] Mason, [Danny] Rose, [Eric] Dier, all English players. [Kyle] Walker, the right back, although he has been there for a bit longer.”
While their focus on Pochettino appears to be United’s priority, the club have also explored the possibility of hiring an interim coach until the end of the season if they are unable to land Pochettino straight away.
Laurent Blanc, Steve Bruce and Darren Fletcher have all been tipped to take the role if United wait until the end of the current season to hire Solskjaer’s replacement.
The Norwegian, who had been in charge since succeeding Jose Mourinho in December 2018, oversaw a poor run of recent form, with Man United losing five out of their last seven Premier League matches.
Solskjaer had been left feeling the pressure after his side were humiliated by Liverpool at Old Trafford, with Jurgen Klopp’s men inflicting a 5-0 defeat on the Red Devils — their worst result in the fixture since 1925.
Even a 2-0 derby defeat at the hands of Manchester City was not quite enough to put Solskjaer’s position under serious doubt.
But after his side crumbled following Harry Maguire’s sending off at Vicarage Road, it quickly became clear that Solskjaer’s reign was coming to an abrupt end after a damning 4-1 defeat.
They are currently 12 points behind leaders Chelsea and already face an uphill task to catch the teams jostling for Champions League qualification.
But after transforming Spurs into one of Europe’s most consistent teams, Pochettino may relish the task of rescuing this ailing Man United squad.
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