The race to become the next Manchester United manager is seemingly down to just three names after one of the contenders ruled himself out of the running.
United are in the process of trying to recruit a new permanent manager in what will surely be one of the most crucial appointments in their history. Indeed, the next incumbent will be the Red Devils’ fifth permanent appointment since Sir Alex Ferguson walked away in 2013. And this time, none have probably been more crucial to the club’s status.
As it stands, the new manager will be taking charge of a side on the periphery of the Champions League places. While that could change between now and the season’s end, it is Arsenal who currently occupy fourth.
Long-term, the aim will be to close that gap between Manchester United and rivals Liverpool and Manchester City. Those two sides have dominated Premier League proceedings in recent seasons.
United need to get their next appointment right on two fronts. Firstly, the next manager must be a wise appointment. Secondly, the club has to start getting their new signings right too.
On both occasions, there have been too many disappointments of late.
Key to the next phase in United’s history will be Ralf Rangnick. Alongside new chief executive, Richard Arnold, interim boss Rangnick will have a big say in United’s next appointment.
To that end, interviews over the forthcoming vacancy have stepped up a notch in recent days. Two of those contenders, Erik Ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino, are both reported to have met with the Red Devils to discuss their credentials.
United, however, do have some more names on their wanted list amid claims of a four-man wish list.
One name rules himself out
And as well as Pochettino and Ten Hag, in contention to be next Man Utd manager are Luis Enrique and Julen Lopetegui.
Erik ten Hag and Manchester United hold talks about manager position
Ajax manager Erik ten Hag has met with Manchester United and had positive talks about becoming the new Man United manager
However, that list is now a man light with Lopetegui ruling himself out the running.
“The [speculation], I can’t help it,” Lopetegui told El Chiringuito. “I am where I want to be. Continue on the Sevilla bench next season? I have no doubt.”
The former Spain and Real Madrid coach, 55, was considered an outsider the imminent vacancy.
Ten Hag favourite to become next Man Utd manager
However, his exit from the running now United’s wanted list is now cut by one to leave three men standing.
Seemingly, United will finalise their decision in the coming weeks and months. They will also want to have a succession plan in place well before the summer window so the club can begin work on new signngs.
If indeed Ten Hag is trusted with the position, he will arrive at Old Trafford with a fine track record.
He has led Ajax to two league titles and they also look well placed to win a third in four seasons this time around.
Building his foundations upon a solid defence, Ten Hag has won a total of 153 of his 207 games in charge at Ajax.
Of course, the Eredivisie is a different standard from the Premier League.
That said, United will hope he has the credentials to lead the club into a whole new successful era.
With Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp due to depart their positions in 2023 and 2024, respectively, the time is right for United to rise and become challengers again.
And that, as much as anything is why the club simply has to get their next appointment right.