According to reports, Manchester United would prefer to hire a football director before appointing a permanent manager. While Mauricio Pochettino remains the number-one choice to succeed Jose Mourinho, caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now enjoying growing support from all levels of the club.
Reports indicate that Sir Alex Ferguson, who has been advising Solskjaer and played a role in his hiring, would back his full-time appointment. Such circumstances complicate the situation, and represent one reason why they would prefer to appoint a director of football – as part of a wider technical body – before then.
Red Bull Leipzig’s Paul Mitchell is admired by United, but it is expected to be very difficult to prise him from the Bundesliga club in the near future, which has meant club legend Edwin van der Sar – currently CEO at Ajax – is now attracting more interest. An ambitious plan to transpose the former Juventus team of Giuseppe Marotta and current sporting director Fabio Paratici has faded. Marotta does not want to work in England, while Paratici wants to remain at the Turin club. The issue of appointing a director of football became one of the most fractious issues with Mourinho, and played a part in the manager losing his job.
The Independent has been told that the Portuguese was flatly against the introduction of such a figure, but even resisted the idea of some informal positions on the board to advise the hierarchy on football. Solskjaer is meanwhile proving hugely popular and is loved by the players, the staff and even key figures like Ferguson.
It is now getting to the point where getting top four or beating Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last 16 are seen as potential game-changers in the process of hiring the next full-time manager.