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With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked by Man United, we take a look at who the top three candidates are to replace him.

Following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal from Manchester United after their 4-1 defeat to Watford, the club are now searching for the next man to take the hot seat at Old Trafford.

With United now 12 points adrift from table topping Chelsea, and their Champions League campaign still in the balance, we look at who the top candidates are to replace Solskjaer.

Mauricio Pochettino – Paris Saint-Germain

Mauricio Pochettino who is the current PSG manager has been linked with Manchester United
Mauricio Pochettino spent five years at Tottenham before being dismissed in 2019, joining PSG a year later. Image: Press Association

The Argentine has been linked with Manchester United ever since his departure from Tottenham in 2019 after finding his side in 14th position – just months after guiding Spurs to their first ever Champions League final.

Pochettino would be seen as a standout Solskjaer replacement due to his philosophy as a manager, overseeing the rise of young talent such as Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min and having a particular recruitment strategy.

After replacing Tim Sherwood in 2014, Pochettino transformed the recruitment and mentality to one which was admired by many.

You never see him ruffled and the way his team play is a testimony to the work he is doing. He understands the advantage of playing young people.

Sir Alex Ferguson on Mauricio Pochettino in 2018. Via Manchester Evening News

Within five years, Pochettino took Spurs from minnows to contenders.

Despite leaving Spurs with no trophies, he brought the club from the wilderness of the Premier League to mounting genuine title challenges – with the closest coming in the 2016/17 season where Spurs achieved their highest ever Premier League points tally, achieving 86 – alongside scoring the most goals in the league and conceding the least that season.

Mauricio Pochettino celebrating Tottenham victory against Ajax in the Champions League semi-finals.
Pochettino oversaw one of the most historic nights in the club’s history following a dramatic semi-final comeback against Ajax in the Champions League. Image: Press Association

Though it was not enough to overcome the new Tottenham manager Antonio Conte and his former Chelsea side – who won the title by seven points – it demonstrated a shift in mentality and finally placed Tottenham in the conversation amongst the teams at the top.

His greatest and most memorable moment with Spurs came during their emphatic Champions League campaign in 2019 which saw a late winner in Manchester followed by an iconic comeback in Amsterdam to achieve their first Champions League final – losing to Liverpool.

A relook at the dramatic night in Amsterdam between Ajax and Tottenham in the Champions League semi-finals. Video: BT Sport, Youtube.

As the current manager of Paris Saint-Germain, there has been speculation of his departure despite being top of Ligue 1 and their Champions League group, namely due to the manner of the victories and management of their endless superstar roster.

With the Argentine’s contract running until June 2023, he is thought to be the most obtainable Solskjaer replacement should he choose to switch Paris for Manchester, and is interested in the role at United.

Brendan Rodgers – Leicester City

Brendan Rodgers manager of Leicester City
Brendan Rodgers has eight major honours in his managerial career, won at both Celtic and Leicester City. Image: Press Association

After the infamous 2013/2014 Premier League season which saw Liverpool fall just short of the title with Brendan Rodgers at the helm, it was clear that despite failing to achieve domestic success, there was a talented manager who had raised eyebrows .

After winning Leicester City their first FA Cup and earning seven trophies with Celtic – including an undefeated campaign – Rodgers has proved he can get over the line to win silverware, a trait which a Solskjaer replacement should surely possess.

Reports have suggested Manchester United could target Rodgers to take the helm at the club as Solskjaer’s replacement, though it is thought to be a difficult task to prise him away from Leicester City.

Brendan Rodgers explains his coaching philosophy which has seen Leicester win an FA Cup and challenge for Champions League positions. Video: Sky Sports, YouTube.

After title challenges, consistent top four contests and tasting success on a relatively low budget while playing expansive football and breeding young talent, he’s a manager who certainly fits the United DNA – minus the part where he’s managed Liverpool.

Rodgers may be seen as a gamble although is the only credible manager linked with the club who has the most honours to his name – a vital component to any Solskjaer replacement.

Erik ten Hag – Ajax

Erik ten Hag manager of Ajax has been linked with a move to Manchester United
Erik ten Hag has risen Ajax from the ashes with his side top of the Champions League group. Image: Press Association

The Dutch manager has been at the heart of the Ajax resurgence which has been reminiscent of the famous ‘total football’ approach, where the Amsterdam club are now bright lights on the world stage once again.

Ten Hag oversaw the scintillating Ajax side of 2018/19 which defeated the likes of Juventus and Real Madrid en route to their first Champions League semi-final since 1997.

The crop of young talent making their name on the world stage was overwhelming. The likes of Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Donny van de Beek – all of whom earned big-money moves to the largest clubs in Europe – were symbolic of what ten Hag had birthed at Ajax.

Former Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt scores vital goal against Juventus in the Champions League. Image: Press Association

As the longest serving Ajax manager since Louis van Gaal, the Dutchman is building a lasting legacy at Ajax having won two Eredivisie titles and only recently signed a contract extension until the summer of 2023.

Ajax are currently enjoying an impressive campaign so far, scoring 37 oals and conceding just two in the league while they top their Champions League group having won all four games.

You keep asking me [about my position as Ajax manager], yes it is a weird question. I have heard nothing about [United’s interest] so I can’t think about it.

Ajax manager Eric ten Hag, who was questioned about the Manchester United job after his side’s 5-0 win on Sunday. Source: Evening Standard

Impressively, ten Hag has only lost one away game out of 14 in the Champions League as Ajax manager with the only defeat coming against Liverpool in 2020.

Though there have been links to take over Newcastle United following their change in ownership, it is thought that ten Hag would not move mid-season.

If Manchester United came knocking however, the Ajax boss is thought to be “100% interested” in becoming Solskjaer’s replacement according to Sky Sports – although may be seen as the biggest gamble of the three.

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About the author

Joel Tudor

Digital Sports Journalist for Sport Social and writer of words. A feature on the Football Social Daily Podcast. Slightly biased towards Manchester United.
Follow @mrjoeltudor on Twitter

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