Southgate an outsider for United if Pochettino bid fails – sources

Gareth Southgate is one of several names being discussed internally at Manchester United as a potential long-term replacement for Jose Mourinho, sources have told ESPN FC, with the club determined to assess all options in the event of being unable to land top target Mauricio Pochettino.

Tottenham manager Pochettino, who faces United at Wembley in the Premier League on Sunday, remains the first-choice candidate of Ed Woodward, the Old Trafford executive vice-chairman, and the club’s owners, the Florida-based Glazer family.

But United are also considering the merits of Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone, former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, Southgate and current caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

As reported by the Sunday Telegraph, England head coach Southgate is under consideration at United after guiding the national team to the semifinals of last year’s World Cup in Russia and the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

But with United determined to appoint a manager with top level experience in the Champions League and the pedigree of having previously worked at an elite club, Southgate remains an outsider in the race to succeed Mourinho.

ESPN FC revealed on Wednesday that United are keen to undertake a “thorough process” before making a full-time managerial appointment at the end of the season.

The challenge presented in prising Pochettino from Tottenham, where the Argentine is under contract until the end of the 2022-23 season, is the main obstacle in securing his services, but he has impressed the United hierarchy in transforming Spurs from perennial also-rans into a team capable of competing with wealthier clubs .

Pochettino was on a three-man shortlist, alongside Mourinho and Ryan Giggs, to replace Louis van Gaal as United manager in 2016, but the club opted for the experience and track record of Mourinho.

Juventus coach Allegri is understood to be United’s Plan B option, with sources telling ESPN FC that the Italian would be interested in an offer from a big club in England or Spain after succeeding in Italy with both Juve and AC Milan.

Simeone, who rejected United’s interest in 2014 following the sacking of David Moyes, is another high-profile contender, despite reservations about his defensive playing style with Atletico.

Zidane is not regarded as a serious option by United, despite having won three Champions League titles with Real, but the Frenchman is nonetheless being discussed as part of the process.

But with Solskjaer making an impressive start to his role as caretaker, winning five out of five games before the trip to Tottenham, the Norwegian is now a genuine contender.

He remains behind Pochettino and Allegri, but his success to date has given Woodward and the Glazers an in-house option, although compensation would have to be agreed with Solskjaer’s current club, Molde.