Manchester United football director John Murtough has confirmed the club is in the midst of a ‘thorough process’ to appoint a new permanent manager this summer.
Murtough’s comments reiterate the original recruitment plan at Old Trafford following the November dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with Ralf Rangnick only intended to lead the team as an interim manager until the end of the season.
There have been rumours in recent months that Rangnick could end up with the job on a permanent basis, but he will step into a two-year consultancy role as initially planned.
“We are now conducting a thorough process for the appointment of a new permanent manager who will take charge this summer, with the objective to get us back to challenging for those domestic and European titles,” Murtough said on the club’s investor conference call on Tuesday.
“Overall, while there is potential for further improvement and progress, we do feel that we now have the right structures in place across our men's, women's and academy teams to support long-term success and we will continue working relentlessly and investing to achieve that.”
Murtough is the man tasked with leading the club’s football operations, with support from technical director Darren Fletcher. New chief executive Richard Arnold is primarily focused on running the business side of the club but will have the final say on all matters.
Mauricio Pochettino and Brendan Rodgers were early leading contenders in November.
United’s choice of pursuing an interim hire in Rangnick was to give the club extra time and flexibility to make the right permanent appointment. 90min revealed in November that both Pochettino and Rodgers would have been prepared to take the job there and then had there been a formal offer.
Rodgers initially had more support within the club hierarchy, although Pochettino has been the preferred choice of the Glazer family and Sir Alex Ferguson. The latter has cultivated a personal relationship with the Argentine dating back to 2016 when they met for dinner.
United soon sharpened their focus and settled on Pochettino as the primary target. The club has retained interest in the former Spurs boss despite initially being rebuffed by Paris Saint-Germain. The French giants were not prepared to let Pochettino leave Parc des Princes without a firm succession plan of their own, with Zinedine Zidane their ideal candidate.
United have also consulted Zidane’s representatives, but he is not keen on a job in England.
Respected Ajax coach Erik ten Hag has more recently been linked with a move to Manchester, and the 52-year-old admitted in December that he is open to leaving for a bigger European club.
“I think I'm ready for it," Ten Hag said at the time. "I would be happy to take up that challenge."
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