United keep managerial options open
UNITED sources have downplayed reports linking them with England coach Gareth Southgate, but are refusing to rule out possible candidates to become the club’s next permanent manager.
Reds sources have told M.E.N. Sport the club have not had any direct dialogue with Southgate, who signed a new England contract in October, but are continuing to assess their options.
Southgate’s England deal expires in 2022 and he would be a more costefficient appointment than Mauricio Pochettino, who is tied to Tottenham until 2023. United would have to pay Spurs £34m in compensation to hire Pochettino.
M.E.N. Sport reported earlier this week Tottenham are confident of keeping Pochettino, whose camp said last month he would take any offer from United ‘into account’.
The reds have not concluded transfer business with Spurs since the then club-record signing of Dimitar Berbatov for £30.75m in 2008.
Southgate led England to their first World Cup semifinals in 28 years in Russia last summer and the Three Lions were one of four teams to qualify for the inaugural Nations League, which will be staged in June.
Southgate has not managed a club side since he was sacked by Middlesbrough in 2009.
The 48-year-old coached England Under-21s for a three-year period before he replaced Sam Allardyce on an interim basis in October 2016. He was confirmed as full-time coach the following month.
Southgate’s experience of working with and nurturing young players, among them Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard, is viewed as an obvious plus by the United board.
Pochettino, 46, is believed to be United’s preferred choice to become their next permanent manager but caretaker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has forced himself into the reckoning with six wins in his first six games, including against Spurs yesterday.
United have not held any meetings with Zinedine Zidane, who is still a free agent after he left Real Madrid last year.
When asked how difficult it would be to reject the offer from to manage a big club last month, Southgate said: “At the moment that’s very easy because I don’t have anything to consider.
“So, we’ve just had our best year in about 28 years, we’re in another semi-final next summer and I signed a new contract three months ago.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates United’s win over Spurs yesterday