United keep man­age­rial op­tions open

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT -

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

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