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Former City boss Roberto Mancini the surprise candidate to enter race for United job

Roberto Mancini as Manchester City manager in 2013. Photo by: PA Wire

Roberto Mancini as Manchester City manager in 2013. Photo by: PA Wire

James DuckerTelegraph Media Group Limited

Roberto Mancini has emerged as a wild-card candidate to take over as Manchester United boss next summer.

The former Manchester City manager could be one of several names to come under careful consideration for the position by Old Trafford executives, depending on how his situation with the Italian national team develops.

Italy must negotiate the World Cup play-offs in March to secure a place in the tournament in Qatar after finishing second to Switzerland in their qualifying group.

The European champions face North Macedonia in semi-finals on March 24 before a potential meeting with Portugal or Turkey in the final five days later.

Failure to qualify could present United with an opportunity but, even if Italy progress, it remains to be seen if interest from Old Trafford has the potential to turn Mancini’s head.

At present, the 57-year-old is firmly committed to managing Italy, to whom he is contracted in a lucrative deal until 2026, but the possibility of a return to the Premier League is thought to appeal.

His history with City is a potential complicating factor but has not led to him being discounted.

United have appointed Ralf Rangnick, the former RB Leipzig coach, as interim manager until the end of the season in the wake of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking.

Rangnick has also been given a further two years in a technical consultancy position and the 63-year-old German is expected to be involved in the search for the next permanent manager.

Solskjaer was given the job permanently after impressing as an interim and it is in Rangnick’s hands to see if he can convince the Old Trafford hierarchy that he warrants the job permanently.

But the club are currently committed to hiring an external candidate on a full-time basis. Mauricio Pochettino, the Paris Saint-Germain and former Tottenham head coach, Ajax’s Erik ten Hag and Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers are three of the names in the frame for the job, but Mancini’s credentials are also likely to be considered.

As City manager, Mancini famously pipped United to the Premier League title on goal difference in May 2012. He won three successive Serie A titles with Inter Milan and led Italy to Euro 2020 glory last summer.

Pochettino has a strong interest in the United job, while Ten Hag (51) could also come into the reckoning. Rodgers (48) would cost £20 million (€23 million) in compensation if any of the Premier League’s “Big Six” wanted him.

The credentials of Ruben Amorim, the talented young Sporting Lisbon coach, are being pushed in some quarters. United could also include an emerging English coach such as Graham Potter at Brighton in any discussions.

Zinedine Zidane, who won three successive Champions Leagues and two La Liga titles as Real Madrid coach and is out of work, has also been linked with the post.

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