Manchester United must learn to play the long game in choosing the right man to be their next manager

Manchester United must learn to play the long game in choosing the right man to be their next manager

The clock is ticking again for Manchester United, about to appoint their fourth permanent manager since the end of the Sir Alex Ferguson era, and while there is no certainty they will get their first preference, there is also no clear indication as to who is their second choice.

It is why the club have considered Gareth Southgate as a potential long-term successor to Jose Mourinho, as revealed in today’s Sunday Telegraph, one of a number of bases they are covering while they wait for a clear sign of intent from Mauricio Pochettino. The England manager is by no means a certainty either, having committed his future to the national team with a new contract in October. As United travel to Wembley to face Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, 26 days after Mourinho’s sacking, there is still so much left to ponder.

On each managerial change, beginning with the appointment of David Moyes as Ferguson’s successor, the club have been obliged to go with who was available, and persuadable in a short time-frame, rather than a long-term target. Across town, Manchester City worked for years at preparing the club for Pep Guardiola, right down to the appointment of Spanish and Catalan executives, and the partnership with the Spanish Liga club Girona, part-owned by Guardiola’s brother Pere.

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