Soccer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer set for United interim role while Mauricio Pochettino emerges as summer candidate

AFP-JIJI

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks set to replace Jose Mourinho as Manchester United’s interim manager after the club appeared to accidently announce the appointment on their website.

Mourinho was axed on Tuesday after just two-and-half years in charge at Old Trafford and the troubled Premier League club are reportedly ready to bring back one of their old heroes to take his place on a temporary basis.

Solskjaer, currently in charge of Norway’s Molde, was widely reported to be United’s leading candidate for the interim role for the rest of the season while the club searches for a permanent appointment in the offseason.

There has been no official announcement from the club, however a video appeared on United’s official website celebrating Solskjaer and seeming to confirm his appointment.

A video of him scoring the winner for United in its 1999 Champions League final triumph against Bayern Munich was accompanied with the headline “The most famous night of Ole’s career.”

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg also appeared to confirm Solskjaer’s appointment, writing on Twitter: “Great day for Norwegian football. Good luck keeping control of the Red Devils.”

Solskjaer, nicknamed the baby-faced assassin, scored 128 goals in 367 appearances for United during 10 seasons playing under the club’s legendary boss Alex Ferguson, who signed him from Molde in 1996.

After retiring, the Norwegian was appointed as United’s reserve-team boss before joining Molde as manager in 2010.

Solskjaer had an ill-fated spell in charge of Cardiff in 2014, winning just nine of his 30 games, with the club being relegated from the Premier League, before being dismissed and returning to Molde in 2015.

Molde’s season ended last month and does not resume until March 31, with Solskjaer unlikely to refuse the chance to manage such a prestigious club.

Club targets Pochettino

Pochettino is believed to be United’s top choice to succeed Mourinho on a permanent basis.

The Argentine signed a new five-year contract with Tottenham in May and has spoken at length about wanting to stay with the club as it prepares to move into its new stadium.

But reports following Mourinho’s exit suggested Pochettino is privately open to the possibility of moving to Old Trafford.

The 46-year-old is understood to have been frustrated by the lack of backing he has received in the transfer market — with Tottenham unable to make a single offseason signing this year.

Pochettino is also vexed by Tottenham’s tight wage structure and the failure of chairman Daniel Levy to sell players he no longer wants in the squad.

Perhaps aware he may have to deal with financial restrictions at Tottenham for several more years because of an expensive and delayed stadium move, Pochettino left the door open for United when he admitted he could not predict what might happen at the end of the season.

“What is going to happen in the summer? What is going to happen tomorrow? No one knows. The most important is to enjoy the journey. I’m so happy here,” he said Tuesday.

“What is going to happen is not in our hands, I mean the decision in another club, we don’t know.

“That is not my business and then I will not waste time or energy because my focus and energy is in Tottenham.”

Pochettino, preparing for Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final at Arsenal, emphasized he is happy at Tottenham, where he has earned a reputation as one of the brightest young coaches in the world.

Tottenham is third in the Premier League, while United is languishing in sixth place.