The Manchester United hierarchy are reportedly split over appointing Mauricio Pochettino or Erik ten Hag as the club’s next manager.
United have formally begun their search for a new manager, who will step into the role when interim boss Ralf Rangnick moves into a consultancy position in the summer. Having so far failed to find the right man for the job since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, the club are taking their time over the next appointment.
Chief executive Richard Arnold, football director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher are leading the search. The shortlist is understood to include Paris Saint-Germain manager Pochettino, Ajax’s Ten Hag, Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui and Spain boss Luis Enrique.
According to SkySports report, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel is not being considered, despite the uncertainty over his future with the club following the sanctions against Roman Abramovich.
United understand that whoever does take over the club from Abramovich will be keen to keep Tuchel and therefore luring him away will be extremely difficult.
United want a new manager in place before the start of next season, but are still some way off achieving that goal – in part due to a difference of opinion behind the scenes. The report states that Pochettino and Ten Hag are the clear favourites for the job and the United hierarchy are struggling to split them.
Pochettino’s CV, which includes knowledge of the Premier League and a depth of experience with PSG, Tottenham, Southampton and Espanyol, stands him in good stead.
The fact he is managing a demanding club the size of PSG – and has faced rivals Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Tuchel before – are big pluses for the Argentine.
Ten Hag, meanwhile, is a popular choice and is considered easier to hire following the scandal involving former sporting director Marc Overmars at Ajax. However, there are doubts over his ability to work in a different club structure and at a higher level.
Julian Naglesmann is reportedly seen as the perfect fit for United, but his happiness at Bayern Munich makes him out of reach. Subsequently only a ‘massive change’ in circumstances would see United hire a manager not already on their four-man shortlist.
Pochettino is understood to be open to making a return to the Premier League and has long been courted by United. PSG’s recent exit from the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid has frayed tensions in the French capital and Pochettino could leave the club this summer, a year before his contract is due to expire.
Ten Hag is believed to be planning to leave Ajax at the end of the season, too, having taken the club as far as he can over the past five years.
The 52-year-old has won two league and cup doubles and is reportedly taking English lessons to improve his chances of landing a job in the Premier League.