Next Manchester United manager: Rangnick set for interim role, Pochettino pursuit continues

Next Manchester United manager: Rangnick set for interim role, Pochettino pursuit continues


Manchester United is without a permanent head coach after the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Nov. 21, and it’s unclear who the club will turn to at this juncture of the season. It’s only November. 

That’s the predicament in which the Red Devils find themselves as they hope to salvage a season that’s taken an early turn for the worse. Caretaker coach Michael Carrick is handling the job for now, and he has already guided the club to qualify for the Champions League Round of 16 with a top four finish in the Premier League the next immediate goal (it is six points away).

The club has given itself until the summer to name a permanent replacement, announcing that it is looking for an interim to take over until the end of the current season. Presumably, Man United has an internal list of target candidates for next summer.

In recent days there have been several names that have come up for the interim post: ex-Newcastle boss Steve Bruce, former France national team coach Laurent Blanc, ex-Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde and experienced French coach Rudi Garcia. But all indications are that Man United has now settled on German Ralf Rangnick to take over the club for the next six months.

As for the permanent job, the summer presents a few options, though according to some reports, the timeline could always move up in the case of one or two of the bigger names. Here are the latest odds and updates on the most talked-about candidates.

MORE: Why Pochettino is the perfect manager for Man United

Zinedine Zidane

Even while Solksjaer was still on the job, reports indicated that the managerial free agent and former Real Madrid head coach was not interested. His legendary playing career gives him instant credibility with players and he has coached Cristiano Ronaldo in the past, getting the most out of a star-studded Madrid side. The feeling is that he could do the same for United.

But even though there are reports that he’s working on his English, it seems Zidane has his eyes on other jobs. However, his next move could have a domino effect in Man United’s pursuit of a manager who seems more appealing (see below).

Mauricio Pochettino

(Getty Images)

There’s no doubt who the media’s favorite is for the permanent Man United job based on the slew of reports in England. The narrative amid the speculation has quickly escalated from “Man United is interested” to “Pochettino wants the job and could move in December.”

But he’s currently at the helm of one of the most expensive teams assembled in world football, and the PSG job was exactly the kind of opportunity that Pochettino was striving for since guiding Tottenham Hotspur to the Champions League final with a considerably lesser budget. With the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi at his disposal, Pochettino has the squad to deliver a first Champions League title to PSG.

MORE: Neville says Pochettino would leave PSG for Man United

For a club that reportedly turned down over $200 million from Real Madrid for soon-to-be-out-of-contract Mbappe, PSG will not just let Pochettino go and that’s proving to be the case according to early reports. Similar to its resistance to part ways with Mbappe last summer, releasing Pochettino to move to Man United would hurt its standing as one of the rising powers in European football. Pochettino has not provided media much fodder when asked about the rumors: 

Pochettino has PSG well on its way to winning the French Ligue 1 title — it has an 11-point lead in the Ligue 1 standings after 14 matches — and it has also advanced to the Champions League knockout rounds. But a falling out with management over the Man United interest could precipitate a departure during the winter break, especially if Frenchman Zidane is open to taking over PSG.

But the end of season still seems like the most likely scenario for any move:

Brendan Rodgers

(Getty Images)

The Leicester City manager could be at the top of next summer’s wish list if Pochettino finds success at PSG over the coming months and becomes an unattainable target for Man United. 

Rodgers had strong words denying the Man United links when Solskjaer was still at the helm. You can’t blame him: He has a stable position with a thriving club, a strong relationship with ownership, and plenty of resources invested in recent seasons. 

MORE: Rodgers says Man United links are “not real”

After two straight fifth-place finishes in the Premier League, is there a scenario in which things could turn sour in the next six months? It’s tough to imagine, although the reports are running wild:

Erik ten Hag

(Getty Images)

If the argument is that Man United needs to find a new identity, then the Ajax Amsterdam manager would make a lot of sense. And the speculation says that the Red Devils’ board is a fan of his work.

MORE: The inside story of Solskjaer’s firing at Man United

In the case that Man United wait it out until the summer, then a Ten Hag appointment takes on a more realistic shape. The 2021-22 season could be seen as the culmination of his work with Ajax, where he has been the manager since 2017. The team is flying high in the UEFA Champions League with four wins in four matches and it’s at the top of the Eredivisie table in a tight race with the other Dutch powers.

Reports indicate  the 51-year-old wouldn’t refuse the advances from England. In the meantime,  he has said on multiple occasions that he’s focused on Ajax and this year’s quest for trophies since he has yet to hear anything from United.

Ralf Rangnick

Another potential managerial candidate who has a clear football philosophy that he can impart on a club is the former architect of the Red Bull football empire. After his success overseeing Red Bull’s rise through multiple teams around the world, he has maintained a front-office role as the manager for sports and development at Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow.

After early speculation that Rangnick could take over as interim coach it looks like the move is finally materializing. Rangnick, who last coached RB Leipzig in 2019, would stay on for a further two seasons as a consultant alongside John Murtough (football director) and Darren Fletcher (technical director), who were hired in March.

Other Man United managerial candidates?

It was suggested that Sevilla coach Julien Lopetegui has a contract release clause that could put him in the game, but he called any links to the Man United job “absurd.”

Current national team managers like Roberto Martinez (Belgium) and Luis Enrique (Spain) are highly unlikely to leave their posts after leading their respective teams to qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar next November.

MORE: Luis Enrique calls Man United links an April Fool’s Day joke

And after not even earning the interim tag — he’s the caretaker until there’s an interim — it’s hard to see Michael Carrick, who served as an assistant to Solskjaer, earning another promotion.

Then again, according to one UK sportsbook with a list of permanent manager candidates (below), Carrick has the fourth-best odds to land the gig. But Rangnick now looks almost certain to land the interim job. Zinedine Zidane was once at the top of the list, but he watched his odds move from 3.1 to 11, and now 41. Then Pochettino took his place, but the Argentine’s odds ballooned from 3.1 to 11 and now 21. 

Manager Current Club Nov. 25 Odds Nov. 23 Odds
Ralf Rangnick Lokomotiv Moscow 1.04 13.0
Lucien Favre free agent 8.5 N/A
Rudi Garcia free agent 13.0 N/A
Ernesto Valverde free agent 17.0 N/A
Mauricio Pochettino PSG 21.0 2.63
Eric Cantona free agent 21.0 N/A
Michael Carrick Man United (interim) 21.0 6.5
Laurent Blanc Al Rayyan 34.0 13.0
Zinedine Zidane free agent 41.0 11.0
Erik ten Hag Ajax 41.0 8.0





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About the Author

Marie Maynes
Marie Maynes is a Sports enthusiast and writes for the Sports section of ANH.