Football

I hope United are in a better state now: Solskjaer

Pochettino and ten Hag reportedly interested in job; but less so Zidane and Enrique

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he hopes to have left Manchester United in a better state than when he arrived as caretaker coach in December 2018 after the Norwegian was sacked by the club last Sunday.

A 4-1 thrashing by lowly Watford saw the axe fall on Solskjaer after the club's hierarchy kept faith with the 48-year-old in recent weeks despite humiliating home defeats by rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.

"This club means everything to me and together we're a good match, but unfortunately, I couldn't get the results we needed and it's time for me to step aside," Solskjaer said in an interview with United's in-house media.

 

"You know what this club means to me and what I wanted to achieve here... I wanted us to take the next step to challenge for the league, to win trophies."

Former United midfielder Michael Carrick, who was part of Solskjaer's coaching staff, will take charge of tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) crucial Champions League clash against Villarreal.

"I love Michael to bits. I'm becoming emotional now because he's top. They'll be fine. I'll watch them and support them."

According to The Guardian, the candidates to replace Solskjaer are Mauricio Pochettino, Erik ten Hag, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Enrique and Brendan Rodgers.

Sky Sports reported that Paris Saint-Germain coach Pochettino, who joined the club only in January, is interested.

Ex-United captain Gary Neville told Sky: "I think Mauricio Pochettino - although he'd never say it - would leave to come to Man United on a five-year deal tomorrow.

"He'd look at that group of players, he'd look at the club and he'd realise he'd probably be able to achieve more than he wants at Manchester United in terms of a project.

"At PSG, you are on a season by season, 'you've got to win the Champions League or you're out', type of model."

Sky also claim ten Hag, who they suggest is second-choice behind the Argentinian, would "100 per cent be interested" in the United vacancy.

When quizzed about it, he said: "You keep asking me (about my position at Ajax Amsterdam), yes it is a weird question. I heard nothing about (United's interest), so I can't think about it."

However, compatriot and ex-Dutch international Ronald de Boer said: "He would be crazy if he didn't do it. But it is not the best next step for him. It is best if he can go to Germany."

Spain coach Enrique, who according to reports, is favoured by Cristiano Ronaldo, responded by telling Spanish broadcaster La Sexta: "Is it April Fools' Day today? I'm already in the biggest team in Spain with 5,000 players."

The Sun claims that Leicester City boss Rodgers has been contacted by United and his contract has a clause that would allow him to speak to them, although the club would have to pay £7.5 million (S$13.7m) to secure his services.

After the Foxes 3-0 defeat by Chelsea last Saturday, he said: "I spoke to the leadership group (about the rumours)...It was a case of stabilising that by speaking to our senior guys.

"They know my commitment to them, they know my commitment to the club, and also to us becoming a better team."

The BBC, meanwhile, reported that United have approached ex-Real Madrid boss Zidane, but he is not interested and is more keen on similar positions at PSG or France.

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