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poch for boss Mauricio Pochettino is back in frame as Man United ramp up manager hunt


Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Mauricio Pochettino is the preferred choice of a growing number of Manchester United players to become the club’s next manager.

United are stepping up their search for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s long-term replacement following the departure of Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, last month, and Pochettino’s candidacy is believed to be garnering increasing support in the dressing room.

Sources in France expect Pochettino to part company with Paris St-Germain at the end of the season and there have been claims he could even leave sooner should they lose to Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16.

Ralf Rangnick, who replaced Solskjaer on an interim basis in late November, is due to remain in charge until the end of the season, when United expect to appoint the new man ahead of a huge summer for the club.

But the situation could come to a head before then and, in the case of Pochettino, United may have to move quickly regardless, given rival interest from Real in the former Tottenham Hotspur manager. The Madrid club are assessing their options in the event they sever ties with Carlo Ancelotti.

United have missed out on managers in the past after being slow to react and there is recognition at Old Trafford that they have little time to waste over the next few months, all the more so with uncertainty over the immediate futures of up to 12 players, the squad requiring surgery in key areas. United have pledged to conduct a thorough recruitment process in the search for their fifth permanent manager since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag is another candidate, and Roberto Mancini, Brendan Rodgers, Julen Lopetegui and Luis Enrique have all been linked with the post.

Yet Pochettino’s man-management skills, hands-on expertise on the training ground, track record of developing players, style of play and Premier League experience are understood to be currying him favour among notable parts of the United squad.

Pochettino, 49, has been on United’s radar since 2016 and he was the front-runner to succeed Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford before United abandoned plans to work diligently through a target list by handing the job to their interim Solskjaer.

He is also the only candidate from a three-man shortlist of potential Solskjaer replacements that United compiled 21/2 years ago who is realistically expected to be available at the end of the season.

Julian Nagelsmann is committed to Bayern Munich and Thomas Tuchel is at Chelsea. It is thought Pochettino would have been interested in taking over in November when Solskjaer was sacked, but United had little expectation of being able to prise him away from PSG in mid-season.

One senior source at Old Trafford admitted last month that Pochettino “really fits” with the challenges United face of rebuilding and revitalising a disillusioned, underperforming squad.

The search is being spearheaded by football director John Murtough and overseen by new chief executive Richard Arnold, who started work on February 1 following Woodward’s exit and who reports directly to co-chairman Joel Glazer.

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Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]