Mauricio Pochettino, Erik ten Hag, Julen Lopetegui and Luis Enrique are the options being discussed by Manchester United; Man Utd are currently in a battle to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League
Tuesday 22 March 2022 13:16, UK
Manchester United have still not internally outlined the nature of Ralf Rangnick’s consultancy role, but Sky Sports News has been told it is "not envisaged to be very hands-on".
No meetings have taken place as yet with the interim manager regarding the design of his future position, which comes into effect on June 1.
United's hierarchy took the decision to put strategic planning on hold to allow Rangnick full focus on trying to salvage the season through coaching.
As such, even the basics of the agreement, like where the German would be based, have not materialised.
Richard Arnold, United's chief executive officer who has been described as a contrast to Ed Woodward as he is more collaborative and grants greater responsibility to staff, was "incredibly open" to the idea of recruiting Rangnick in a dual-purpose capacity.
It is understood Arnold is invested in widening the brains trust at the club and is keen to have Rangnick's "knowledge on tap" until 2024.
But his core expertise - structurally overhauling a club and implementing sustainable, successful methodology - has so far gone unused.
That is on account of the state of play when he was appointed - the team had lost five out of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's last seven fixtures - as well as a lack of time due to a stacked schedule.
United's Champions League exit allows more time for some forward planning, but the notion Rangnick could operate as a loose version of a sporting director, helping John Murtough and Darren Fletcher knit a solid strategy behind the scenes, has been labelled "hugely unlikely."
Sources have intimated his role in all probability will be centered around sharing insights on innovation, scouting and linking the club with bright football minds rather than fundamentally altering their set-up.
It was highlighted that "consultancy," in its essence, suggests separation and independence.
United are set to lean on Rangnick's in-depth knowledge of the squad and what is required to build a strong collective for a progressive on-pitch identity.
The 63-year-old's temporary tenure has been coloured by some unsavoury leaks despite him significantly improving the team's underlying metrics.
United have a "pretty good idea where the briefings are coming from" and are keen to erase a self-serving culture.
There is an appreciation that Rangnick has not offered any counter-leaks, opting for honesty during his media commitments instead.
The analysis the interim manager provides on the squad will stretch well beyond the tactical and technical to drill down into how United can improve recruitment not only in a stylistic sense, but character-wise too.
However, reports he is heavily involved in the decision-making process over the club's permanent manager are incorrect.
Rangnick has done what has been asked of him, which is to concentrate on coaching.
United have distanced themselves from coverage suggesting they are circling around Thomas Tuchel amid Chelsea's uncertain future, with one source describing it as "media talk not reality."
They maintain there is a four-man shortlist being considered to take charge of the club, which does not feature the reigning European Cup-winning manager.
United are aware that the opening move for a new ownership group at Stamford Bridge will be to secure Tuchel's future.
The 48-year-old has also displayed the absolute opposite of a desire to exit Chelsea, navigating difficult circumstances with aplomb and underlining his happiness despite the upheaval.
Mauricio Pochettino, Erik ten Hag, Julen Lopetegui and Luis Enrique are the options being vetted by United, with the Spain boss proving the most complex situation to navigate given the World Cup in December.
The club want a manager in situ ahead of the new season, but suggestions that a pre-agreement could be struck by the end of this month are, as one employee put it, "overly optimistic."
While there is some bafflement from United over why Lopetegui and Enrique have been faded out of talk surrounding the job, multiple sources have admitted they would be surprised if Pochettino or Ten Hag were not at the helm.
There is a split over the pair. The Argentine would not require an adjustment to the league, to a club of such scale, or even having to pit his wits against Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
Pochettino is seen as the concrete choice to rival Manchester City, Liverpool and Tuchel's Chelsea given he stacked up well to the former two while on severely restricted resources at Tottenham.
His work at Spurs, Southampton and Espanyol have been given more attention than the spell at Paris Saint-Germain, where the problem has not been the manager as the successes of Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery and Tuchel after departing, have proven.
United are aware Ten Hag is the popular choice, and the Marc Overmars scandal has made it easier to prise him from Ajax.
However, there remains question marks over how he would function in a completely different structure, and at a club of the size, stature and unrelenting pressure and attention as United.
One source revealed that "in an ideal world, Julian Nagelsmann would walk into the club this summer," but there is a realisation that he would not swap Bayern Munich until he could move to a stable Premier League option, primed to lift silverware.
There is a sense he is more minded to plump for the City or Liverpool job when Guardiola and Klopp leave.
United's new permanent manager will be derived from the four-man shortlist unless "there is a massive change in circumstance and a top manager that fits the long-term direction suddenly becomes available."
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