Ajax boss Erik Ten Hag is believed to be the primary alternative to Mauricio Pochettino for Manchester United next summer, as the club plots a permanent successor to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Old Trafford outfit parted ways with the Norwegian last weekend following the dismal 4-1 defeat to newly-promoted Watford, the result seemingly the final straw after a catalogue of woeful displays in recent weeks.
The club had hoped the 48-year-old could turn things around – having only been handed a new three-year deal in July – although the spectacular nature of their decline this season sparked an early exit for the former Molde boss, leaving his assistant Michael Carrick in temporary charge.
In the statement announcing Solskjaer’s departure, Manchester United outlined their intentions to appoint an interim manager until the end of the season, before bringing in a longer-term, permanent figure in the summer.
While yet to be confirmed by the club, recent reports have suggested that German visionary Ralf Rangnick is set to be named as interim boss for the remainder of the campaign, when he will then step aside and take on a consultancy role for the next two years.
According to the Mail, the club’s number one choice for the permanent role is Mauricio Pochettino, although they will turn their attentions to Erik Ten Hag if a deal cannot be struck with the Paris Saint-Germain boss.
The Argentine – who has long been linked with the role after impressing in the Premier League at Tottenham Hotspur – had been rumoured to be keen on making the move with immediate effect, although it is believed United made no formal approach.
The likelihood is that they will turn to the former Spurs boss again in the summer, although if they cannot strike a deal then Ten Hag will be their primary alternative, the 51-year-old having worked wonders in Holland in recent years.
Since taking the reigns in 2017, the Dutchman has guided the club to two Eredivisie titles and shone on the European stage, notably guiding an exciting young side to the Champions League semi-final’s in the 2018/19 season.
Despite losing the likes of Donny Van de Beek, Matthijs De Ligt and Frenkie De Jong in the aftermath of that run, Ten Hag has since managed to put together a new batch of talent, with the Dutch giants again thriving on the continent with five wins from five in the group stage this season.
With his stock on the rise, a number of top club’s around Europe will all be tracking his progress, the report suggesting that Ajax wouldn’t block a departure if he opted to leave.
United will also be aided by strong connections with Ajax chief executive and former Red Devils ‘keeper, Edwin van der Sar, should they pursue a deal, although it is also thought that Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers is another who is piquing their interest.