Manchester United will listen to Sir Alex Ferguson again, with Mauricio Pochettino playing the part of David Moyes as his managerial pick.
If not Antonio Conte, then who else? Manchester United seem reticent to bring in the Italian but it seems that an old flame might be rekindled in due course.
Mauricio Pochettino remains their ‘number one choice’ to become manager. The Daily Star suggest that the ‘original plan’ at Old Trafford was for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ‘to act as a bridge between Jose Mourinho before Pochettino arrived’. The bridge has been far longer than initially intended but the destination could be the same.
It is far easier said than done, considering Pochettino has two years left on his PSG contract and is managing Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi every week. Things have not gone smoothly for the former Tottenham manager in France but he sits top of Ligue Un and their Champions League group.
With ‘boardroom doubts’ surrounding Conte and his ‘defensive style of play’, as well as suspicions over whether Zinedine Zidane is ‘the hands-on manager’ needed for a ‘significant rebuild’, Pochettino is the favourite and ‘the choice of Sir Alex’. And his backing of David Moyes and Solskjaer has gone incredibly well.
MORE THAN A PHELAN
The Daily Telegraph add a little more detail, saying that ‘the search for a new manager’ is underway. Manchester United will still give Solskjaer time to turn things around – three games, to be exact – but preparations are being made for every scenario.
If there is an improvement against Tottenham, Atalanta and Manchester City then the situation will obviously change but Solskjaer has been given no guarantees either way. The executives at the club who are ‘desperate’ for him to do well will afford him time up to a point.
‘Until Sunday, the hierarchy were 100 per cent behind Solskjaer,’ it is said, which has perhaps contributed to the disagreement as to who might take over from him. Those Conte doubts come up again and Zidane ‘has shown no interest in joining the Premier League’.
Another complication is that ‘United do not believe there is a viable candidate internally to take over as caretaker’, such is the lack of belief in Mike Phelan or Michael Carrick as anything more than ‘a very short-term’ stopgap. One possible option is to try and coax Pochettino from PSG, leaving Zidane to take over in France, but the Ligue Un giants would ‘see it is as point of principle’ to keep him. A sizeable compensation fee would also muddle matters. United, however, would indeed be ‘interested’ in Pochettino.
UP MY ALLI
Dele Alli might fancy his chances of a beautiful reunion with Pochettino in that event. The 25-year-old has shown only fleeting glimpses of his old self under Nuno Espirito Santo, who has dropped him from his Carabao Cup squad to face Burnley on Wednesday evening.
That has ‘thrown into uncertainty’ Alli’s future, considering he is not carrying any injury and is available for the last-16 clash. Nuno described it as “a final” in the build-up so read into that what you will.
The Daily Mail add that Nuno is ‘likely to point to the fact he has rotated his squad for the club’s European and cup games this season as a reason for his absence’. Alli has not played a single Premier League minute since being substituted at half-time of last month’s north London derby so might not accept that explanation.