Manchester United should move to appoint Mauricio Pochettino as their new manager immediately rather than wait until the end of the season if he is their first choice, according to former Old Trafford hero Mark Hughes.
United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday in the wake of a humiliating 4-1 defeat to promoted Watford a day earlier, but the writing was already on the wall.
After an inconsistent start to the 2021-22 campaign, the beginning of the end for Solskjaer was arguably the 5-0 home loss to Liverpool on October 24.
That thrashing by Jurgen Klopp’s side set several unwanted records, including United’s largest margin of defeat against their fierce rivals at home and the first time the Red Devils had trailed by four goals at half-time in the Premier League.
Michael Carrick has been installed in temporary charge until United can hire an interim manager to guide them through to the end of the season, a somewhat peculiar and convoluted process that in itself has attracted criticism.
Numerous coaches have been credited with interest in the role, with Paris Saint-Germain boss Pochettino – strongly linked to United in the past – seemingly chief among them, and Hughes thinks the club need to have the courage of their convictions if the Argentinian is the man they want.
“In terms of resources, to be able to get a top manager out of a top club, clearly United are one of the few clubs that are able to do that,” Hughes told talkSPORT. “I think for a long time United have coveted Pochettino.
“I think they’ve wined and dined him [in the past], I think he’s been out with Sir Alex [Ferguson]. I think that was well documented a few years ago.
“I think he’s well thought of within the corridors of United, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s the one they really want. Whether or not he’s able to come to the club quickly, that’s an issue for them.
“I think if he’s the man, they should just go out and go get him. This interim-to-interim position doesn’t seem to be the right way to go about it.
“But clearly, if they have to wait, they seem prepared to do that. I just feel it’s Pochettino that they really, really want.”
Former Tottenham head coach Pochettino has only been in charge at PSG since January, though there have been rumours of friction between him and sporting director Leonardo.
Speculation has suggested that PSG would be willing for Pochettino to leave, assuming a compensation package can be agreed and they have a replacement lined up.
Zinedine Zidane, also linked to United but said to have little interest in moving to England, has been mentioned as a likely candidate to replace Pochettino at PSG.
Pochettino is in Manchester this week as PSG face Manchester City on Wednesday in the Champions League – United begin the post-Solskjaer era away to Villarreal on Tuesday.