Ernesto Valverde most likely to be interim Manchester United manager

Having been slow off the blocks in creating a succession plan for departing manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Manchester United board has quickly got their ducks in a row regarding an interim appointment.

Coach Michael Carrick was put in temporary charge of the team for Tuesday’s Champions League Group F game against Villareal, but the Red Devils’ hierarchy have been busy developing a shortlist of candidates to steer the club until the end of the season.

In terms of a permanent successor, Paris Saint Germain’s Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax’s Erik ten Hag are rumoured to be favourites, but it seems unlikely that either will leave their respective clubs midway through the current campaign.

A steady hand is therefore needed to steer the ship in the meantime and, according to The Telegraph, United ‘are hoping he will oversee the sort of turnaround Rafael Benitez and Guus Hiddink provided during interim spells at Chelsea.’

The outlet believes that there is a shortlist of five candidates for the caretaker role, of which they name four: Ralf Rangnick, Ernesto Valverde, Lucien Favre and Rudi Garcia.

The Mail claims that the fifth name on the list is Portuguese boss Paulo Fonseca.

Rangnick is seen as one of the founding fathers of the ‘Gegenpress’ system employed so successfully at Liverpool by his one-time student, Jurgen Klopp.

According to The Times, Rangnick is ‘willing to leave his role as head of sports and development at Lokomotiv Moscow, but only if he is given a significant role at United beyond this season.’

The outlet also adds that ‘Ed Woodward, the club’s executive vice-chairman, is an admirer of the 63-year-old former Schalke manager, who would be able to get out of his present contract with relative ease.’

However, it seems unlikely that United would be willing to offer him the job on a permanent basis, nor appoint him to a director of football role, which could lead to an impasse in terms of the temporary position.

Favre has the advantage of being readily available. The 64-year-old impressed at Borussia Dortmund between 2018 and 2020 and has been successful at FC Zurich, Hertha Berlin, Nice and Borussia Monchengladbach. However, he does not have the experience of managing big star names such as Ronaldo and Pogba.

Garcia is also currently without club, His achievements at French side Lyon make him an interesting option. He guided les Gones to the Champions League semi-final, beating the likes of Manchester City and Juventus along the way, and also did a commendable job at AS Roma.

Fonseca is arguably the outsider for the role. His main experience came with SC Braga in the Portuguese League and Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukraine. Whilst those spells were successful, and he also had a year at FC Porto, they are not at the kind of top-level club that would prepare a manager for the United job.

Valverde, on the other hand, certainly does have such experience, managing FC Barcelona between 2017 and 2020, winning back-to-back La Liga titles. Many believe his sacking from Barcelona whilst they were on top of the league was harsh.

The Spaniard is reported to have already entered talks with United and is available, making him arguably the stand-out favourite for the interim role, if he is prepared to accept it on that basis.

The Telegraph suggests that ‘there is a desire to make the appointment as quickly as possible’, although ‘Michael Carrick, the current caretaker, is braced to take charge against Premier League leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge if an interim is not appointed before then.’

This suggests there could be significant activity in the coming days, with Valverde very much the favourite to get the nod as things stand.

Story Credit: OneFootball

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