Zidane, Simeone, Pochettino? Who could replace Jose Mourinho?

Manchester United will appoint a caretaker manager to succeed the sacked Jose Mourinho before their next Premier League game with Cardiff on Saturday.

Former Red Devils striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is one name under consideration to take charge for the rest of the season – as the club look to restructure with a technical director of football and a new permanent boss in the summer.

Mauricio Pochettino

He will be top of the list. His Tottenham side play attractive football, and he has spent very little in comparison to his Premier League rivals.

Spurs are largely built around players he didn’t sign, but Pochettino has a reputation for extracting the maximum out of the squad he has and has been credited with developing several young English players at the core of Gareth Southgate’s vibrant, exciting national side.

He’s known to have a human touch with players and staff, plus he already works under a chairman – Daniel Levy – who operates almost like a technical director.

Real Madrid were also interested in him last summer and, though they have Santiago Solari in place until 2021, those rumours persist. So could it be a heavyweight clash between Real and United for the services of the highly rated Argentine?

Pochettino only signed a new five-year contract at Spurs last summer and still appears to been on an upward curve at a club set to make a delayed move into a new stadium. If he could be prised out of Levy’s clutches, expect any club to pay at least £20m to release him from that deal.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Pochettino simply sent his “best wishes” to Mourinho. Asked about being a “perfect fit” for United, he replied: “A lot of rumours that happen in my position at Tottenham – I cannot answer that type of question. I am focused on doing the best I can here.”

Pochettino remains ‘focused’ at Tottenham after Mourinho sacking

Zinedine Zidane

Three Champions League titles in three years managing one of the biggest clubs in the world at Real Madrid. How’s that for a managerial CV?

Zidane has been linked with United since he walked out of the Bernabeu in May – and there’s a train of thought he’d be able to get the best out of fellow Frenchmen Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial.

But there remains questions over his technical coaching ability and development of young players, having inherited a team of global superstars in Madrid.

He’d also be expensive in terms of wages – but given United have just spent upwards of £18m to sack Mourinho, is any fee for any manager much of an issue in order to get it right?

But if Zidane was the club’s top choice, why would they need to wait until the end of the season?

Diego Simeone

United have spoken to the Atletico Madrid boss before during previous managerial searches.

But is he the right man to follow Mourinho, given his similarly combustible reputation and functional, effective style of football?

Simeone is tactically well organised, has punched above his weight in La Liga, and is great at creating a siege mentality like legendary United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, and even Mourinho at their best.

That’s something United fans embrace – as long as it is ‘us versus them’ and not ‘me versus them’.

Who will be the caretaker manager?

The club want to reset and get a feel-good factor back, with the team playing ‘the United way’. Have they accepted they are not going to finish in the top four of the Premier League? If so, is this style over substance?

The next man in line will be someone synonymous with United, and who the players will enjoy working with. They will understand the demands of the club and will get the fans onside.

Assistant manager Michael Carrick and academy director Nicky Butt have been ruled out. So who are the candidates as it stands?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

The Norwegian is definitely under consideration. A huge crowd favourite from his time as a player and high up on the bookies’ lists for a temporary solution. A coach at United and reserve-team boss from May 2008 to December 2010, he is steeped in the club’s history.

Solskjaer left to manage former club Molde in Norway, then led Cardiff in the Premier League in 2014 before returning to his homeland.

He could be available short-term given the Norwegian season has just finished – and only restarts in March.

He has just signed a new contract with Molde until 2021 – but could United pay a fee to ‘borrow’ their Treble-winning icon?

Laurent Blanc

The Frenchman is also top of many bookies’ lists. He spent two years at United at the end of his career and has built a positive reputation as a coach.

Blanc has managed at the top level with Paris St-Germain but is he really synonymous with the club and does he understand the traditions? Also, he has never managed in English football. He looks an outsider.

Steve Bruce

A long shot. United’s first Premier League-winning captain in 1992-93 and, unlike former team-mates Mark Hughes and Paul Ince, his playing and managerial career hasn’t taken him to a bitter rival.

He has worked with former United assistant manager Mike Phelan so could renew that partnership. But would that appointment really capture fans’ imagination as he left more than 20 years ago?

Carlos Queiroz

A valued and influential part of Ferguson’s backroom team, credited with being largely responsible for the development of Portugal great Cristiano Ronaldo… but currently in charge of Iran heading for the Asia Cup.

Ryan Giggs

The United legend was overlooked for the top job – other than on a very short-term basis – despite being at the club when both David Moyes and Louis van Gaal left. Now manager of a youthful Wales side. Another long shot.

Eric Cantona

One for the romantics. Not a coach in his own right and the United icon has been out of the game for a long time. Occasionally quoted as saying he’d love to manage the Red Devils, but has to be a huge outsider. (BBC Sport)