Manchester United could make a stunning attempt to make Gareth Southgate their next manager, according to reports.
The search for the next United manager began following Jose Mourinho’s sacking in December. A number of stellar names have been mentioned in connection to the job since. Mauricio Pochettino, Zinedine Zidane and Antonio Conte have all been linked to the Old Trafford hot seat even before Mourinho’s dismissal.
Amongst those names, Pochettino appeared to be the favourite to land the job. The Tottenham Hotspur boss is undoubtedly at the top of a majority of United fans’ lists and is seen as a perfect fit for the role. However, it remains to be seen as to whether the club can prise him away from Spurs. Daniel Levy is known to be a hard negotiator and recent reports suggested that even a bid of £50 million wouldn’t be enough to let him leave the club.
As a result, Ed Woodward has been forced to reassess his options. In doing so, if reports are to be believed, he has surprisingly added England manager Gareth Southgate to his list of targets
Southgate won English hearts in the summer when he took them all the way to the semi-finals of the World Cup. It was England’s first appearance in the semi-finals of the tournament since 1990. A landmark achievement, and a sign of undoubted progress after years of being labelled ‘over-rated also-rans’.
The issue for United is, his success prompted the FA to tie Southgate down to a new contract. He signed an extension that will see him manage his country till at least the end of the 2022 World Cup in Russia. Negotiations may hence prove to be a tricky task.
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Woodward might also need to keep in mind that Southgate is relatively inexperienced when it comes to managing at club level. The 48-year-old has only managed Middlesbrough during a three-year spell from 2006 to 2009.
An exclusive in the Mirror also claimed that Diego Simeone is a major target for the United job. The Argentinian has just 18 months left to run on his contract with Atletico Madrid. Discussions are underway regarding an extension, but United could potentially intervene and attempt to nab him.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was appointed as interim boss following Mourinho’s sacking, is also under consideration for the job. He’s made a magnificent start on his return to Old Trafford, with 6 wins from his first 6 games, including the recent win away to Tottenham. There is a real possibility that he might be given the job full time.
With the season still only halfway through, there is still plenty of time to make a decision. Three managers with proven track records have tried and failed since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. It is fair to say that Ed Woodward is not cutting any corners this time and will be desperate to get it right.