United have already made moves to lure Mauricio Pochettino from Tottenham as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be named as caretaker manager for rest of the season
Manchester United will name Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker manager to replace Jose Mourinho on Wednesday, but are already making plans to put Mauricio Pochettino in permanent charge next summer.
Old Trafford legend Solskjaer will be assisted by Sir Alex Ferguson’s former No 2 Mike Phelan for the rest of the season as United reach out to their glorious past.
But it’s understood that Tottenham boss Pochettino remains the club’s long-term target and United sources have been aware for some time of his desire to take the Old Trafford job
The Argentine was Ferguson’s preferred choice when Mourinho was appointed in 2016, and Sportsmail understands that United have already made the first moves to lure him from Spurs.
However, they will face fierce opposition from Tottenham chief Daniel Levy, a notoriously tough negotiator who signed Pochettino to a five-year contract in May.
There is no escape clause in the deal meaning that United may have to pay up to £40million to get their man.
They could also face opposition from Real Madrid who were ready to offer the former Espanyol boss the job at the Bernabeu last summer and could do so again.
Like United, they see 46-year-old Pochettino as the ideal coach to take their young squad forward with his brand of progressive, vibrant football.
Old Trafford chief Ed Woodward would have preferred for Mourinho to continue until the end of the season, but Sunday’s pathetic 3-1 defeat at Liverpool was the final straw.
Despite speculation that Mourinho was surprised by the decision, it’s understood that he knew the likelihood of his fate on Sunday night.
The 55-year-old was summoned to a meeting at Carrington on Tuesday morning and sacked by Woodward.
Mourinho cleared his desk and picked up his belongings from a suite at The Lowry hotel before returning to his family home in London.
The decision to sack Mourinho was welcomed by the majority of the United players, many of whom had fallen out with the abrasive Portuguese coach over the course of his two-and-a-half years in charge.
His coaching staff were also axed — with the exception of Spanish goalkeeping coach Emilio Alvarez who is a close confidant of David de Gea — which left Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna to take training on Tuesday.
They will remain key figures in the new set-up which represents a dramatic swing back to the Ferguson era.
Solskjaer will forever be remembered for his winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich that secured the Treble.
The 45-year-old Norwegian, who only signed a new contract as coach of Molde earlier this month, had a difficult spell at Cardiff City in 2014.
However, Woodward wants someone immersed in the United culture who knows the fabric of the club and can put a spring its step after the torpor of Mourinho’s reign.
He has a good relationship with Solskjaer who has attended four United games recently and worked with Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard in his previous role as reserve team manager.
It’s hoped that he will be a galvanising figure for the remainder of the season who will shift the focus away from the manager and back onto the players.
The feeling is that a management set-up of Solskjaer, Phelan, Carrick and, possibly, academy head Nicky Butt would give United their soul back.
Ferguson was dismayed that David Moyes dispensed with the services of his backroom team when he took over in 2013, and has been looking to find a role for Phelan back at Old Trafford.
The 56-year-old, who has been working with Central Coast Mariners in Australia, will be an experienced No 2 for Solskjaer.
Meanwhile, United will press ahead with plans to appoint a director of football which had become a sticking point with Mourinho.