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Exclusive: Gareth Southgate added to Man Utd's shortlist as fears grow Mauricio Pochettino will stay at Spurs

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 12/01/2019 Sam Wallace

a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Could Gareth Southgate be the next Manchester United manager? - PA © pa Could Gareth Southgate be the next Manchester United manager? - PA Manchester United are considering an approach to Gareth Southgate, the England manager, as they become increasingly concerned that Mauricio Pochettino will stay at Tottenham Hotspur this summer.

United go to Wembley Stadium on Sunday to face Pochettino’s Spurs team with no certainty yet that the Argentinian is prepared to give up on five years at his current club to become the fourth permanent manager at Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. While Pochettino remains the first choice of United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, the club are aware that it is by no means certain he will agree to come.

Southgate signed a new contract with the Football Association in October that takes him to the 2022 World Cup finals and he would be by no means certain to accept a job elsewhere in the interim. The England manager is committed to the national team and although United represents the biggest job in English club football he may well believe that, at 48, it could come around for him again.

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The former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is also on United’s list of possible candidates to succeed Jose Mourinho, sacked last month, on a permanent basis. He has the advantage of being unattached but despite his success at Real Madrid, there are reservations about his suitability.

An approach to Southgate would be problematic given the length of his contract with the FA and the awkwardness of taking a manager from the national team. In early 2002, United were close to appointing Sven Goran Eriksson, then the England manager, as Ferguson’s successor before the Scot reversed his decision to retire at the end of the 2001-2002 season.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 11: Sir Alex Ferguson during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images) © 2018 AMA Sports Photo Agency MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 11: Sir Alex Ferguson during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Naturally there would also be concerns about Southgate. He has been out of the club game where he had just one management spell, at Middlesbrough, for three years between the summer of 2006 and October 2009. Nevertheless, his resounding success in taking England to a World Cup semi-final this summer, and his faith in young players, make him an attractive proposition.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is in charge of the team currently since Mourinho’s dismissal, looks like the most likely candidate to benefit should Pochettino turn down the United job. The visit to Wembley on Sunday will be the first significant test of his side after four Premier League victories over Cardiff, Huddersfield Town, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Reading in the FA Cup third round.

Pochettino’s recent public pronouncements on his future have offered no great clarity on whether or not he sees Spurs as being able to match his own ambition. He has admitted himself in the account of his career published last year, “Brave New World”, that he is prone to changing his mind on major career decisions and in the past while in his first job at Espanyol he turned down higher profile jobs at Valencia and Sampdoria.

Gallery: Gareth Southgate's career in pictures (Mirrorpix)

That is why United have been forced to explore other possibilities as they approach yet another change of manager. Southgate will be watching Everton against Bournemouth on Sunday while his assistant Steve Holland is at Wembley.  

Ferguson was at the Carrington training ground on Saturday to meet with one of his former players, Giuseppe Rossi, who is coaching there. The 31-year-old failed a drugs test last season but escaped any sanction. He is now seeking a new club after leaving Genoa in the summer.

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