Gary Neville identifies Mauricio Pochettino as ‘stand-out candidate’ for Manchester United job

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday morning

Carl Markham
Sunday 21 November 2021 17:04
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fired as Manchester United manager

Manchester United should target Mauricio Pochettino as their new manager after the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to Gary Neville.

Solksjaer was relieved of his duties after a run of two victories in eight matches, which included a 5-0 defeat to arch-rivals Liverpool and a derby loss to Manchester City, with the final straw the embarrassing 4-1 reverse at Watford on Saturday.

United do not have a succession plan in place and, as a result, first-team coach Michael Carrick has been placed in caretaker charge – his first task is preparing for Tuesday’s crucial Champions League clash away to Villarreal – while the club look to appoint an interim manager to get them to the end of the season.

In delaying their decision to dispense with Solskjaer despite their downward trend, United have missed out on Premier League-winning coach Antonio Conte, who went to Tottenham three weeks ago.

With few obvious candidates presenting themselves there could be a lengthy wait for a longer-term successor and Neville believes the club may turn their attention to former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, linked to them in the past but now at Paris Saint-Germain.

“They are waiting on Mauricio Pochettino not being successful at another club. If he was to win the Champions League, then PSG wouldn’t let him go,” the former United defender told Sky Sports.

“He’s always been a stand-out candidate and the only name I‘ve mentioned as someone I thought really suited Manchester United in terms of core principles and values and how they play, how he acts and behaves.

“They haven’t planned or prepared for this, it’s deteriorated so badly and so quickly. Michael takes over now, the only option the club had was to put someone in to the end of the season, that’s been obvious for the last few weeks.

“If there was a world-class manager sat on the shelf ready to go two or three weeks ago, I think Ole would have been gone by now.

“People will say, ‘Antonio Conte has gone to Tottenham’. He was never coming to Manchester United. This board were never going to appoint him.

“I don’t think he’d have been a fit for Manchester United and I don’t think there is one at this moment in time, so they have to get someone in temporarily until someone becomes available.”

Carrick (left) has been named as caretaker manager (John Walton/PA)

As soon as United called an emergency board on Saturday night it was clear the writing was on the wall for their former striker Solskjaer, who, despite changing the atmosphere around the club following the toxic end of Jose Mourinho’s reign in December 2018, never really convinced in the role.

In a statement announcing his departure the club said: “Ole will always be a legend at Manchester United and it is with regret that we have reached this difficult decision.

“While the past few weeks have been disappointing, they should not obscure all the work he has done over the past three years to rebuild the foundations for long-term success.

“Ole leaves with our sincerest thanks for his tireless efforts as manager and our very best wishes for the future.

“His place in the club’s history will always be secure, not just for his story as a player, but as a great man and a manager who gave us many great moments.”

Neville said his friend and former team-mate could not argue with the decision.

“Ole can’t complain, he’s been given three years, he’s been backed in the transfer market,” he said.

“David Moyes was given eight months and kicked out, so I don’t think Ole can complain about the time he’s been given and the money he’s been afforded.”

Another former United player-turned-manager Wayne Rooney, in charge of SkyBet Championship strugglers Derby, was asked about being linked with a coaching role at Old Trafford.

“I’m committed to this football club until somebody above me tells me otherwise,” he said.

“I speak to people at Manchester United on a regular basis and I’m sure, if they were going to come calling for me, that would have happened by now.”

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