Zinedine Zidane and Antonio Conte are both in the race to replace under-pressure Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but the club are also reportedly considering Brendan Rodgers and Erik ten Hag.
The Red Devils are in disarray after a 5-0 mauling at the hands of fierce rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday compounded a poor start to the season with Solskjaer fearing his time in charge may be coming to an end.
And according to The Sun, the club have drawn up a four-man shortlist of potential successors including the out-of-work pair, as well as Leicester’s Rodgers and Ajax’s Ten Hag.
United are understood to be keen to sound out ex-Real Madrid manager Zidane and former Chelsea boss Conte and gauge their interest in taking over.
Club chiefs are said to have told a prominent agent to get in contact with several leading managerial names to discern their contract demands and vision for United if they took over.
Although the Red Devils remain reluctant to sack Solskjaer, having handed him a three-year contract extension in July, the Liverpool capitulation was probably the nadir of his reign and could force the club’s hand.
Following a day of deafening silence at United, sources emerged to offer Solskjaer lukewarm support on Monday night more than 24 hours after the humiliating defeat.
Earlier, chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer held crisis talks with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and managing director Richard Arnold as the shock of losing so pathetically to their bitter rivals continued to reverberate around the club.
Meanwhile, Solskjaer spent two-and-a-half hours at the training ground around lunchtime after giving his squad and coaching staff the day off.
A vast and immediate improvement in performances and results may extend his stay of execution, but after another lavish summer of spending to bring in Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane expectations are understandably higher.
It remains to be seen whether Rodgers’ links with Liverpool would affect his chances of landing the United job but he has impressed with Leicester since taking over in 2019.
He has introduced a free-flowing style of play and almost eclipsed several bigger names to qualify for the Champions League two seasons running, only to narrowly miss out twice.
Rodgers did manage to win last season’s FA Cup and the Community Shield at the start of the current campaign but ruled himself out of the running to take over at Newcastle last week.
Conte, who is available after leaving Inter Milan earlier this summer, won the Premier League with Chelsea in 2016-17 and retains a reputation as a bonafide winner.
Meanwhile, Zidane secured a record three consecutive Champions League titles with Real Madrid but left the Bernabeu in May.
Ten Hag has won nearly three-quarters of his 181 matches in charge of Ajax since joining from Utrecht in December 2017.
He masterminded their unlikely run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019 – where they were narrowly beaten by Tottenham – and has a reputation for playing eye-catching football with young players.
The Dutchman has won two Eredivisie titles but it remains to be seen if he has the pedigree United would look for if they are to change manager.
It emerged on Monday that senior United players are now questioning Solskjaer’s tactics and leadership over concerns that he lacks the experience to get himself out of trouble and is too soft on them.
It is not the first time the 48-year-old has faced an uncertain future since he returned to the club in December 2018. Whereas United have previously offered Solskjaer unequivocal backing, however, the message on Monday night was less emphatic.
Sources stressed the need to pull together and move on from Sunday’s embarrassment, adding that there is nothing to say Solskjaer won’t still be in charge when United visit Tottenham on Saturday.
– Daily Mail