Man Utd will make a managerial decision this month
Manchester United plan to step up their search for a new permanent manager this month, with Athletic reporting that the Red Devils are “working to reach a decision in the coming weeks”. Ralf Rangnick has been in an interim role at Old Trafford since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked in November. A shortlist of permanent options has been drawn up, including Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag. Former Tottenham Hotspur boss Pochettino is said to be the club’s ‘first target’ but it will cost a lot more to buy out his contract at Paris Saint-Germain compared to Ten Hag’s lower release clause at Ajax.
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Paper Round’s point of view: Manchester United sacked Solskjaer five months ago but failed to show much more improvement under Rangnick. The club could decide on their new manager so that there can finally be some stability and normality around Old Trafford. Ten Hag and Pochettino were the two media favorites. If Pochettino costs more, it just depends on whether United are willing to part with a higher fee. The Argentine developed a young and hungry squad during his time at Tottenham but failed to prove himself as a winner at elite level with PSG. It still seems like it could be a bit risky, but do the club have plenty of more realistic options?
Hasenhuttl on his way to Old Trafford?
The Daily Star continues to assess Manchester United’s managerial options and reveals the Premier League side have Southampton head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl on their radar. Club officials John Murtough and Darren Fletcher were impressed with the Austrian’s work on the south coast and were particularly impressed with Southampton’s recent performances against Manchester United and Manchester City. On top of that, current caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick – who is set to move into United’s boardroom this summer – is believed to have a sway over the decision to hire the next permanent manager. Rangnick worked with current Saints manager Hasenhuttl when the pair were employed at German club RB Leipzig.
Paper Round’s point of view: Hasenhuttl has impressed since joining Southampton in 2018. The Saints boss has likely exceeded expectations given the lack of serious investment in the squad. There were inconsistent performances but the Austrian allowed Southampton to play decent football on a shoestring budget. Would it be a little too difficult to move to Manchester United this summer? Probably. It would just be a huge risk for United and they can’t afford to make any more mistakes now. It’s been so long since the club has been seriously competitive at the top level, so bringing in someone like Mauricio Pochettino, Erik ten Hag or Carlo Ancelotti would probably make more sense. The problem is that there isn’t a single outstanding candidate for the job.
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Barca deny talks with Haaland
Barcelona have denied that the club have entered into negotiations with Erling Haaland and his agent Mino Raiola. The Blaugrana have been identified as one of several clubs sniffing around the Borussia Dortmund striker, who is believed to have a cut-price release clause becoming active this summer. It was recently reported that club president Joan Laporta and manager Xavi had met with Haaland and Raiola, but Laporta openly denied any negotiations. The 59-year-old has distanced himself from the Catalan club from transfer talks and said any negotiations would be with Haaland’s parent club Dortmund.
Paper Round’s point of view: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The club deny having spoken with a player or his agent, then end up signing them a few months later. It looks like Haaland’s stay at Dortmund will come to an end this summer, so the conversation will turn to his destination. Barcelona are struggling to compete financially with other clubs interested in the Norwegian striker, so talks with the player and his agent would be an opportunity to help lure Haaland to Camp Nou.
Ronaldo’s surprise trip to Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo has made a surprise trip to Portugal after being told by Ralf Rangnick that he won’t be leaving for United in the Manchester derby. The Sun reveal the 37-year-old was ‘stunned’ when told he would be in the starting squad, despite the club’s medical team diagnosing Ronaldo with a flexor injury of the hip. Rangnick insisted Ronaldo could still ‘make an impact from the bench’ but the Portuguese striker was ‘furious’ after being kicked out of the squad and ended up returning to his native country to recover from his hip injury. Manchester United players were ‘surprised’ Ronaldo decided against traveling with the team to cheer on his teammates in an important game.
Paper Round’s point of view: Who knows how true all aspects of this story are? Ronaldo’s state of fitness was questioned by former Manchester United captain Roy Keane ahead of the game and the whole picture looks a bit murky. Ronaldo refused to accept he was injured… but then traveled to Portugal to recover from said injury in hot weather. Everything is a little weird. Ultimately, no player is bigger than the club and it wouldn’t be surprising if Ronaldo left Old Trafford again this summer. His spectacular homecoming ended up being a disaster.
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