The contenders to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Manchester United's next permanent manager

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Who will take over the hot seat from Ole? - REUTERS
Who will take over the hot seat from Ole? - REUTERS

The spotlight is once again back on the Manchester United hierarchy with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now relieved of his duties.

Discussions took place among co-chairman Joel Glazer and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward over the manager’s future on Saturday night following the crushing 4-1 defeat away at Watford, with Michael Carrick taking charge of the forthcoming games while the club looks to appoint an "interim manager" for the rest of the season.

That would mean that Manchester United will be looking for their fifth permanent manager since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. But with managerial reshuffles taking place prior to the international break - and most leading candidates already in jobs - what are the options for United for their next appointment? Telegraph Sport takes a look at the obvious choices and a few more outsiders.

Zinedine Zidane

Out of a job, Zidane is an attractive option for United - REUTERS
Out of a job, Zidane is an attractive option for United - REUTERS
  • Odds: 6/1
    Current team: Unattached

Having passed on Antonio Conte, Zidane is the only high-profile candidate with a track record of winning and experience of managing star names who is not in a job and is currently available to United. The Frenchman won three successive Champions League titles and the Spanish league during his first spell in charge of Real Madrid and a second La Liga during his second spell.

Zidane’s appointment would certainly curry favour with Cristiano Ronaldo, who enjoyed a very close relationship with the former World Cup-winning playmaker at Real. Compatriots Raphael Varane, whom Zidane played a key role in bringing to Real in 2011, and Paul Pogba, whom the manager wanted to bring to the Bernabeu, may also be enthused by the prospect of “Zizou” rocking up at Old Trafford.

For all his flair as a player, he fashioned a tight defensive unit out of Real, which United need to become after shipping 19 goals in seven games, and is unafraid to make big decisions.

Whether he would be the ideal fit for United is open to debate. He was less successful at Real’s developing the club’s young talents, such as the Brazilian pair of Vinicius and Rodrygo, something United will desperate to see happen with so many emerging talents looking lost and has never managed in the Premier League before. There are reports Zidane’s Spanish wife, Veronique, is less than enthused by the prospect of life in Manchester, too.

Brendan Rodgers

  • Odds: 3/1
    Current team: Leicester City

Rodgers distanced himself from speculation linking him with the United job this week, insisting it was disrespectful to talk about such matters when a fellow manager was still in situ. The Northern Irishman came close to winning the Premier League title with United’s bitter rivals Liverpool in 2014 but it is six years since he left Anfield and he is on his second job since then so the Old Trafford hierarchy may feel there is enough distance.

If they were to pursue Rodgers, though, they would have to meet a release clause in excess of the £14m figure set when he moved from Celtic and which is thought to have been increased since he signed a new deal at the King Power Stadium to 2025. Rodgers’ progressive, pressing football and track record of developing talent will appeal greatly to United. A fiercely ambitious individual, he would be on Manchester City’s radar if Pep Guardiola was ever to leave the Etihad Stadium.

Mauricio Pochettino

  • Odds: 5/1
    Current team: Paris St-Germain

Pochettino was United’s preferred permanent candidate at the time Jose Mourinho was sacked in December 2018 and Solskjaer appointed on an interim basis. But he was still in charge at Spurs then and United instead opted to give Solskjaer the job full time.

Pochettino was on a three-man Old Trafford shortlist with Thomas Tuchel and Julian Nagelsmann from late 2019 but United resisted the temptation to move for the Argentine in the 13 months he was out of work after leaving Spurs and before he joined PSG. His progressive, attacking football and love of developing young talent would make him a natural fit for United and he is open to ending his marriage of convenience in Paris and taking the job in the summer.

Erik Ten Hag

Is that a thumbs up for Old Trafford? - GETTY IMAGES
Is that a thumbs up for Old Trafford? - GETTY IMAGES
  • Odds: 6/1
    Current team: Ajax

The Dutchman has forged quite the reputation at Ajax, whom he guided to the semi-finals of the Champions League only for his side to throw away a 2-0 second leg lead to Pochettino’s Tottenham. His cohesive, attack-minded football would be well received at Old Trafford and, naturally as Ajax coach, he is accustomed to developing young talent.

He was instrumental in the development of Frenkie De Jong, now of Barcelona, and the United outcast, Donny van de Beek, would doubtless like the prospect of teaming up with Ten Hag again. But he has no experience of managing one of Europe’s super clubs and the scrutiny that comes with that and the Premier League represents a big step up from the Eredivisie, even if Ajax’s performances in Europe speak volumes for the coach’s work. Ajax have already qualified for the Champions League knockout stages after winning their first four group games, scoring 14 goals and conceding just twice in the process.

If Ten Hag was to come to Old Trafford, United fans would doubtless hope he brought the Ajax chief executive, Edwin van der Sar, the former United goalkeeper, and director of football Marc Overmars with him.

Gareth Southgate

  • Odds: 50/1
    Current team: England

Has enhanced his managerial credentials with his work as England manager, taking them to a World Cup semi-final and European final and obviously knows a lot of United players through his national role. The former Middlesbrough manager wants to one day return to club mananagement but is also on the verge of signing a new England contract, one he would seem unlikely to walk away from. It would certainly take a hefty financial package from United to prise him away from the FA.

And the outsiders...

Wayne Rooney

  • Odds: 33/1
    Current team: Derby

Former Manchester United man Ji-Sung Park may have tipped the club legend to one day take the reigns at Old Trafford but that feels a long way off. Still, out of the frying pan and into the fire and all that... Rooney would certainly have more money and resources to play with at United than financially-stricken Derby County.

Cristiano Ronaldo

  • Odds: 50/1
    Current team: Manchester United player

He already seems to be running the show on and off the pitch, so why not give him full reign?

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