Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Third Man Utd candidate ‘tempted’ by Prem return on one condition, as expert puts timeframe on decision

Roberto Mancini is a third candidate to become the next Manchester United, but a deal hinges on whether Italy qualify for the World Cup or not.

That’s according to Fabrizio Romano, who expects a decision to be made by Man Utd in the spring, rather than immediately. They have Ralf Rangnick in place as interim manager to see out the season after replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

But although there were initially claims Rangnick could keep the job permanently, it now seems accepted he will stick to the club’s plan of stepping aside to become a consultant.

From then on, United will have a role to fill. A number of candidates will be linked with the vacancy; indeed, many already have.

The two main options, reiterated by Romano, are Mauricio Pochettino and Erik Ten Hag.

Pochettino is currently in charge of Paris Saint-Germain and impressed Man Utd when he was in the Premier League with Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur.

Ten Hag, meanwhile, has stood out for his work with Ajax and may be ready for the next step later in the year.

But Romano believes his compatriot Roberto Mancini is also in contention, as reported back in November by the Telegraph. It would be a somewhat controversial move, given his previous association with rivals Manchester City.

Roberto Mancini considered for next Man Utd manager

Manchester United have added Italy manager Roberto Mancini to their list of candidates to take over at Old Trafford in the summer, according to Fabrizio Romano.

However, after winning Euro 2020, he has a hunger to manage in the Premier League again. And with there being no guarantees Italy will be at the 2022 World Cup, there could be an opportunity for Man Utd.

Romano told Rio Ferdinand’s Five: “They are not going to decide now. What I am told is there will be no decision in January, no decision in February, it is going to take time; March or April they will start this process.

“I am sure that Erik ten Hag will be on the list. Mauricio Pochettino will be on the list. But it will depend on how it goes with Paris Saint-Germain this season.

Romano puts Roberto Mancini in contention

Roberto Mancini European Championships trophy Italy v England Euro 2020

“Let’s see what happens with Roberto Mancini. Mancini will be busy with Italy to see what happens with the World Cup with qualifying in March. But that could be an option.

“He could be an option. But at the moment he has not even had contact with United because he only wants to focus on Italy. If Italy are at the World Cup, Mancini will 100% be working with Italy. So it depends on the World Cup situation.

“He is tempted by the Premier League. He wants to come back to the Premier League one day. I will add his name to the list – top two positions for sure are Pochettino and Ten Hag. They’re the two big names.”

Italy have a World Cup play-off semi-final to contest with North Macedonia in March. The winners will play either Portugal or Turkey, so it is not an easy route, even for the European champions.

Remarkably, Italy’s last World Cup knockout game was the 2006 final, which they won.

Mancini will be aiming to take them to at least the group stage after they missed out on the 2018 edition. If they make it to Qatar, he will stay, but if not, it may fit in with United’s timescale to approach him.

During his time across Manchester, he led City to their memorable first Premier League title in 2011-12 at United’s expense.

Mancini’s Italy contract lasts until 2026, while he has previously claimed talk of an agreement to return to England is false as he focuses on winning the World Cup.

But if he cannot get there, Man Utd may firm up their interest.


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Saha suggests alternative ‘best candidate’

Meanwhile, the Mirror report that Pochettino and Ten Hag have been joined on the United shortlist by Spanish duo Luis Enrique and Julen Lopetegui, currently in charge of Spain and Sevilla respectively.

But they also carry quotes from former United striker Louis Saha, who has recommended his French compatriot Zinedine Zidane.

Saha said: “I think Zidane would be the perfect fit. Maybe Manchester United need to become more of an attractive proposition to get him – I don’t know. For me, Zidane is the best candidate.

“As a manager, he would improve the confidence of some players. Look at what Zidane has won, not just as a player, but in management.

“He has also has a history of developing young players and brought some to a level they never expected. I really like his profile and I think that he would do amazing things there.”

Zinedine Zidane Champions League presser during his time as Real Madrid coach

The only factor that may put the former Real Madrid boss off, Saha concedes, is a language barrier.

He added: “Maybe that is one aspect because he’s not well-known as a great communicator in English, but he knows that.

“As I said, communication is so important for any manager so the players can understand his tactics and his philosophy. If he doesn’t feel comfortable communicating in the English language, that could be a reason because it’s important.

“[But] the guy’s charisma speaks for itself. His pedigree as well, but maybe sometimes it’s not enough. I can’t speak for Zidane.

“What is certain – any manager coming in will have to find the right way to communicate, and, obviously, he will be helped, way more than the current manager, because of who he is. If he were to join I feel confident he would be an amazing success.”

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