However the most recent reports claimed that the French giants weren’t interested in letting their manager leave mid-season, and it now seems as though talks have ended until the end of the current campaign.
Rangnick comes in with a huge reputation, with many giving him the nickname as the ‘Godfather of German football’. He is credited with bringing gegen-pressing to the top level, a system that Jurgen Klopp has brought on leaps and bounds.
The German is currently in a technical director role with Lokomotiv Moscow but he will leave that position to join United on an initial six-month managerial deal, before a two-year deal begins for a consultancy role.
It isn’t often that Manchester City winning a game is in any way helpful for Manchester United, but Wednesday’s Champions League tie against PSG could be exactly that.
The French giants travel to the Etihad Stadium for a crunch Champions League group stage game, with City intent on exacting revenge for their meeting earlier this season where PSG earned a 2-0 win at the Parc des Princes.
But while a win for City obviously is ideal for them, it could also be ideal for their city rivals United in their managerial hunt.
What they perhaps didn’t envisage though, is that the former Tottenham boss is keen to take over immediately and is willing to leave Paris mid-season to take the job of his dreams.
While he is at PSG, a club he played for and captained during his career, he will give 100 percent, but their Champions League position could look quite bleak if they are defeated on Wednesday night.
The Champions League group currently stands with Man City sitting at the top on nine points, with PSG just behind them on eight. Club Brugge have earned four points so far while RB Leipzig have capitulated and already been eliminated, earning just one point so far.
If City win the game they will guarantee that they finish top of the group, while a win for Brugge agains the already eliminated Leipzig means PSG would be forced to go into the final game-week before trying to claim qualification.
That final game will see them host Brugge in Paris, with a draw all that’s needed to secure progression to the next round. But the pressure will be on Pochettino for it even getting that far with the squad he has assembled, and speculation linking him to the United job is only likely to increase the longer it goes on.
PSG aren’t usually ones to act impulsively when it comes to the managerial situation, but with Champions League qualification on the line it’s possible they could opt for stability and to let Pochettino go ahead of that game if he were to fail against City.
That would make it much easier for United to get their man and for Pochettino to get his move, while PSG are expected to move for Zinedine Zidane should the Argentine leave the club mid-season.
For that reason, and that reason only, United fans might be quietly cheering for a City win for a couple of hours on Wednesday night. But don’t tell anyone.
There are several names being touted for the role currently, although it seems as though United will wait until the summer to make a permanent appointment. But which of the names being touted most are the best fit? These are my thoughts on the top five names linked with the role.
Zinedine Zidane – Unattached
A three time Champions League winner and two time La Liga champion, Zidane seemingly completed the football management game during his time at Real Madrid across two stints in charge.
The Frenchman left on his own accord on both occasions after successful spells, where his side were quite rigid with their style of play but always very tough to beat. His record in big games spoke for itself, with his willingness to rotate his team and trust young players also very impressive.
A superstar in his own right, Zidane was able to keep big egos in check at Madrid and would be able to do the same at Old Trafford too. However with a lack of interest in the Premier League and no real interest in the job itself, if he did arrive you can only assume it’s for the wrong reasons and that never bodes well.
Tactically he is adaptable, willing to play different ways and systems depending on his team and the opposition and he would suit the superstar reputation that fans like too. SUITABILITY – 7/10
Mauricio Pochettino – PSG
A manager who has forever been linked with the manager’s position at Old Trafford, Pochettino currently sits in the hot seat at Paris Saint-Germain.
Managing the likes of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Marco Verratti and Marquinhos, it’s hard to see why Pochettino would be interested in potentially moving to United at the current time but reports suggest that he is.
Attacking football with high intensity and rigid defensive structure, based around possession Pochettino is an excellent fit to the traditions of Manchester United, and now is as good a time as ever to finally get him in the job. SUITABILITY – 8/10
Brendan Rodgers – Leicester City
I’m probably a bigger Brendan Rodgers fan than most, and this appointment doesn’t seem like the worst thing in the world to me.
A big advocate of possession football, Rodgers is happy to bring youth players through too while he has proven himself as one of the better managers in England since moving to Leicester. He surpassed expectations while with Celtic, and then came to Leicester and won the club’s first ever FA Cup while missing out on top four twice because of final day defeats.
A former Liverpool connection will put some fans off, but he would come in and add to the foundations that Solskjaer has left behind. Unfortunately though, we already know that he isn’t really one to be able to compete with Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel which is what United need so he probably shouldn’t be among the top candidates for the role. SUITABILITY – 5/10
Luis Enrique – Spain
Enrique’s reputation has only grown since he took over as Spain manager for a second time following the tragic passing of his daughter due to cancer, but it’s all to do with his team’s performances on the pitch.
After winning the treble at Barcelona with the legendary ‘MSN’ striker trio, he has taken over the role of national team manager and implemented a style that has caught the eye of many. They pushed a France side all the way to the limit during the Nations League and Italy were pushed all the way at Euro 2020 too, before they got a win back over them to end their unbeaten run.
High intensity, fast-paced possession football with the sole intent to score as many goals as possible, Enrique likes to work with young talent and with pace. While he’d be a brilliant fit for what United need, he is likely to have no interest and with the World Cup not far away now this is dead before it even takes off. SUITABILITY – 7/10
Erik ten Hag – Ajax
The man at the top of a lot of fan’s wishlists, Ajax manager Erik ten Hag is one of the hottest prospects in European football for the work he has done with the Amsterdam giants.
His brilliant young team are constantly bringing through young players as is tradition with the club, while still performing to a high level both domestically and in Europe. A true coach, he is constantly tweaking the team to improve which shows just how adaptable he is.
Always looking to play attacking, front-foot football, ten Hag could potentially be the man to challenge the elite coaches already in the league. He is obviously untested in the Premier League, but if his Champions League record with a lesser side is anything to go by, then it could be a master-stroke by the board. SUITABILITY – 8/10
For months it has been believed that Gini Wijnaldum was going to join Barcelona on a free transfer, but that won’t be the case after all after Paris Saint-Germain got involved.
The Liverpool midfielder confirmed after the final Premier League game of the season that he would be leaving Anfield after five seasons at the club, where he won the Premier League and Champions League.
It was believed he would be joining former Holland coach Ronald Koeman at the Camp Nou, after the club chased his signature all of last summer but ended up not having the funds to get Liverpool to agree to a sale.
Following the announcement that he’d be leaving Liverpool, there were several reports that he had agreed a three-year deal with the La Liga side and would join the club on a free transfer.
All that was left to complete were medicals, but Holland manager Frank De Boer stated that he didn’t want transfers to distract his players and was hopeful that nothing like that would happen during his Euro 2020 camp.
But now that delay has seemingly cost the Barcelona hierarchy the player’s signature, because PSG have swooped in and trumped their contract offer to convince the Dutchman to sign with them instead.
According to highly-reliable journalist Fabrizio Romano, manager Mauricio Pochettino was heavily involved in getting Wijnaldum to change his mind and sign for the Ligue 1 side.
While Marco Verratti is one of the untouchables in midfield, his injury record is a huge issue. Constantly missing chunks of the season has seen him limited despite his obvious quality, while Pochettino relied heavily on Leandro Paredes last season.
The three of them as a trio would provide plenty of steel, energy and quality on the ball but also allows for Pochettino to play with a faster tempo. Last season he was forced to use Ander Herrera, Idrissa Gueye or Danilo in that third midfielder role and they often slowed the game down too much and allowed defences to get back in place quickly.
Wijnaldum will be used to the fast transition game coming from Jurgen Klopp’s side and with Pochettino coming from the Premier League too he’ll know all about the 30-year-old’s qualities. He tried to sign him for Tottenham when he left Newcastle back in 2016, but Wijnaldum opted for Liverpool instead.
The decision for Wijnaldum is a simple one. He’ll start for both teams but right now there is far more promise in the PSG project when it comes to winning trophies and he’ll be earning a considerable amount more money.
It’s a good move for the club and the player in a tight transfer market where funds are limited. As for Barcelona, they had counted on this deal being done but they’ll now need to re-think their squad plan and strategy ahead of the new season.
It seems as though Tottenham Hotspur have finally settled upon their new manager as they close in on appointing Antonio Conte.
Spurs have been without a manager since sacking Jose Mourinho in April, with former midfielder Ryan Mason fulfilling a caretaker role until the end of the season.
Chairman Daniel Levy has been linked with several different coaches including Erik Ten Haag, Eddie Howe, Max Allegri and Nuno Espirito Santo since the end of the campaign but it seems now that none of those men will become the next boss.
Allegri returned to Juventus following a two-year spell away from management, replacing Andrea Pirlo who was sacked after leading the Turin side to a fourth placed finish in Serie A.
After originally attempting to bring back former manager Mauricio Pochettino from Paris Saint-Germain, the Ligue 1 side completely refused to release the Argentine from his contract and insist that he is happy to continue with them despite reports to the contrary.
Because of that, it seems Spurs have now moved on after spending a short while prioritising Pochettino and that search has now taken them to former Chelsea and Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte.
That meant he would have no money to spend to continue building the team to challenge next season and decided that was reason enough to leave, with their visions no longer aligned.
It’s not the first time that Conte has walked out on a job after disagreements with the board, as he resigned from his post as Juventus manager for similar reasons before being sacked by Chelsea despite winning the Premier League and FA Cup in his two seasons due to fall outs with the squad and board.
So joining up with notoriously tough chairman Daniel Levy seems like a marriage destined to end by going up in flames.
Conte is without a doubt a world class manager, who has a phenomenal ability to get the absolute maximum out of average. Spurs’ squad at the moment is strong, but is also at the tail end of it’s run and without much cash to spend Conte is unlikely to have free reign in the transfer market.
If Conte is promised that Kane will stay and then he doesn’t, the relationship will start off on the wrong foot immediately while if he does stay he’ll be beginning his tenure with his best player far from happy.
Spurs fans are also notorious for wanting to play exciting, attacking football which is not something Conte is particularly known for. The Italian has always had most of his success with a three-at-the-back formation that is centred around being structurally sound and as solid as possible defensively so as to not lose games easily.
He’s also known to be quite confrontational with his squad if necessary, and considering the squad of players didn’t take so well to Mourinho’s style of management it’s hard to know how they’d react to Conte’s way.
Despite that, he is without doubt the best manager on the market right now and would prove to be a real coup.
I think many teams in the Premier League would be wary of coming up against a Conte-led Spurs side next season and he would put a real fighters mentality into the squad. But ultimately, this is a partnership that won’t work long-term.
Conte is too volatile and Levy isn’t the type to stand for much nonsense or be pushed around by his manager, so while there would likely be some short-term progress and success it would all come burning down by the end of his tenure.
It had been widely expected that Zidane was going to walk away from Madrid again, as he oversaw a trophyless season with the club. He took the La Liga title race all the way to the final day, where Atletico Madrid’s victory meant they claimed the title.
He also took them to the Champions League semi-finals, where they couldn’t overcome a solid Chelsea side and were dumped out following defeat at Stamford Bridge in the second leg. But with so many injuries throughout the season and the club struggling financially, he wasn’t able to get the squad he was promised and has decided to call it a day with no sign of change this summer.
It was believed he was going to be replaced by Max Allegri, who had been without a job for two seasons after leaving Juventus following five consecutive Serie A titles. However, it was revealed on Thursday that Allegri is in fact set to return to Juventus, with the Turin side deciding to sack Andrea Pirlo.
Former midfielder Pirlo was originally hired as the youth team coach, but was promptly promoted once Maurizio Sarri was sacked last summer after winning the league. Despite his legendary status and strong squad, Juventus only finished fourth on the final day when Napoli failed to win allowing the Bianconeri to leapfrog them in the table.
While Pirlo was hopeful of staying, the decision was taken away from him and it seems now that Allegri will return and be given the keys to the rebuild that the club will undertake.
It means that Real Madrid will likely turn their attention to Conte now that he is a free agent. Conte previously almost joined Madrid back in 2018 when Zidane left the first time, but the club in the end went for Julen Lopetegui and we all know how that went.
There is also the chance that the club could go for Mauricio Pochettino, the current PSG manager. After failing to win Ligue 1, it’s believed that he is considering his future at the club after signing an 18-month contract in January of this year.
It was believed that his position could be under threat, but reports in France suggest they are keen to keep him for the upcoming season but he could be tempted to leave with his former club Tottenham Hotspur also back in the race for him.
It’s said that Spurs are confident they could strike a deal with PSG and Pochettino to bring him back to north London less than two years after sacking him. It seems as though both parties are open to making it happen, but PSG aren’t the most keen.
If Spurs and Pochettino were to push for it though, they could look to try and bring Zidane as a replacement. A French legend with plenty of success in Europe as a player and a coach, Zizou could be the perfect answer to the managerial position should it become available.
It’s a managerial merry-go-round in Europe, with the top clubs making big changes at the top. There’s a big summer incoming and there are plenty of twists and turns coming.
Paris Saint-Germain are not the champions of France anymore, after Lille were crowned the winners of Ligue 1 thanks to their win over Angers on the final day.
The French title race went down to the wire, with PSG needing to better Lille’s result on Sunday to be able to leapfrog them at the final hurdle and win the title for a fourth straight season.
It was never on the cards on the day though, as Lille took an early lead and never looked back. Record signing Jonathan David was put through on goal by Renato Sanches and slotted past the goalkeeper, before Burak Yilmaz smashed a penalty home on the stroke of half-time to all but seal the title in the first half.
PSG had an eventful first half of their own, with Neymar missing a penalty after mind games from the Brest goalkeeper before Angel Di Maria scored directly from a corner. Kylian Mbappe added another in the second half but that wasn’t enough though as Lille stayed firm throughout the second half of their game to be crowned champions for the first time since the 2010/11 season.
It’s an incredible achievement from Christophe Galtier’s side, who have blended youth and experience brilliantly and maintained a very exciting style of play to be able to go toe-to-toe with the billionaires in the capital.
Mauricio Pochettino’s job when appointed in January was to ensure success. While he has won two domestic cups since joining, the club were eliminated at the semi-final stage of the Champions League by Manchester City and now were pipped to the title too, in a league many deem to be a one-horse race.
Considering he only signed an 18-month contract on arrival, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the Qatari owners decide to cut ties now and bring someone else in this summer with a more long-term view at things.
Elsewhere on the continent in Italy, Juventus were able to scrape qualification into the Champions League on the final day after Napoli failed to beat Verona and they beat Bologna 4-1.
Manager Andrea Pirlo made the unthinkable decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo from the team for the must-win game, but the choice worked brilliantly as the Bianconeri raced into a 3-0 lead in the first-half. Ronaldo didn’t even come on as Juventus waited patiently, but as Napoli failed to break down Verona and were held to a 1-1 draw their fate was confirmed.
They’ll be joined in the competition by AC Milan, who beat Atalanta 2-0 thanks to two Franck Kessie penalties to finish 3rd and qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2014.
Milan had led the table for a short period during the winter, but eventually faded away and as injuries and poor form picked up their season threatened to spiral out of control. Stefano Pioli was able to manage the situation well though and saw the team win four of their last five games to secure a wonderful season for themselves.
While Ronaldo’s future will almost certainly now be called into question, Juventus will be delighted to have been able to qualify after a very rocky season. They can now focus on rebuilding the squad, with or without Pirlo and Ronaldo, to try and reclaim their place as Italy’s best.
As for PSG, they also have some big decisions to make this summer. Despite the hundreds of millions spent revamping the squad over the years, they are still in need of some big upgrades at full-back and in midfield. Add to that the fact that Mbappe is entering the final year of his contract and there is a lot going on that needs to be addressed this summer.
The business end of the season is upon us as the final four of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League is upon us.
Two mouth-watering clashes make up the semi-finals, as Chelsea take on Real Madrid for the first time ever while Paris Saint-Germain will take on Manchester City in the other game.
We’ve done predictions for every knockout tie in the competition so far, so we continue here with the two most exciting attacking sides left in the competition as the Cityzens take on the Parisians.
PSG come into the game having eliminated two of the pre-tournament favourites for the competition, beating both Barcelona and Bayern Munich away from home to be able to progress despite not winning the second leg of both games.
Kylian Mbappe was the star of the show, scoring five times in those ties as Mauricio Pochettino’s team showed a brilliant counter-attacking style over the four games while also mixing in their ball retaining abilities where needed.
PSG will thankfully be able to count on Marco Verratti and Marquinhos once again too, who missed out through injury and COVID-19 last time out while Mauro Icardi is also fit and in goalscoring form once again. It will be interesting to see which front line Pochettino chooses to go with and whether he opts to try and keep the ball in midfield with City or just soak up pressure and defend.
City on the other hand made it through to this stage of the tournament with a comfortable 4-0 aggregate win over Borussia Moenchengladbach, before surviving a scare against Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals thanks to a late Phil Foden goal in both legs.
Defensively they have been one of the best sides in Europe this season, and they will need all of that during this tie against one of the better attacking outfits on the continent. Going forward they have been excellent too, with the lack of a natural centre forward leading the line often leaving defences with nobody to mark and causing issues.
Kevin De Bruyne and Verratti in the middle of the park will be a terrific battle, while Pochettino will almost certainly look to his thrilling win back when he was the Spurs manager as inspiration on how to get the Paris club to consecutive finals.
This is truly set up to be one of the most mouth-watering semi-finals in recent memory and over two legs either team could come away with a win and nobody would be surprised.
In goal both number ones are excellent, while the defences are evenly matched. You can argue that PSG have the better centre-back options, while City without a doubt have the better full-backs. In midfield the options are pretty even, while in attack it’s probably fair to give the nod to PSG.
The way that City play with the vast majority of possession and stretching the pitch will definitely suit them, but we have seen how they can struggle against teams who are potent on the counter attack. Their record against Manchester United shows you that, and PSG are best described as Man United on steroids with their style of play.
It’s an incredibly tough game to call. PSG’s style is tailor made for playing away against a side like City, while at home they have shown an ability to mix it up and be solid defensively but also take the game to their opponent when needed.
Overall, I won’t be surprised whoever goes through but I give the edge to Paris Saint-Germain’s frightening attack.
Paris SG 1-1 Man City Man City 1-2 Paris SG (Paris Saint-Germain to progress 3-2 on aggregate)
The UEFA Champions League is back with some absolutely mouth watering ties as we enter the quarter-final stage of the competition.
In a rematch of last seasons final, Bundesliga champions and current holders Bayern Munich will take on Ligue 1’s Paris Saint-Germain in arguably the most star-studded clash of the round.
Hansi Flick’s men cruised the the most comfortable last 16 tie there was, with wins both home and away against Serie A side Lazio to waltz to a 6-2 aggregate win, while Paris Saint-Germain were able to smash through Barcelona at the Camp Nou meaning the draw at the Parc des Princes wasn’t a downer with a 5-2 progression on aggregate.
In the Bundesliga, Bayern are on the verge of securing a ninth successive league title as they currently sit seven points clear at the top with just seven games to play. Paris Saint-Germain on the other hand look like they could miss out on a fourth successive title and an eighth in nine years after flailing under both Thomas Tuchel and Mauricio Pochettino this season.
With seven games to go, PSG currently sit three points behind Lille having been defeated by their rivals in the most recent game at the weekend. They have lost eight league games so far this season, the most since the 2010/11 season and as many as each of the last two seasons combined.
One positive for Pochettino’s side is that even despite their poor league form, they have looked fantastic in Europe. After a shaky start in the group stages they were able to come through as the winners of the group of death ahead of RB Leipzig and Manchester United.
Under Pochettino they have attempted to play a possession based game, with good pressing and incisive attacking patterns to help Kylian Mbappe and Neymar thrive. The Brazilian missed both games against Barcelona but is fit once again, although he was sent off at the weekend.
Bayern have maintained their excellent form from last season and overcame their first blip under Flick earlier in the season to get back on track. Their high press, high line in defence and dominance in midfield allows them to control every game they’re in and their lethal attack led by Robert Lewandowski means they punish any mistakes.
The issue for them in this tie comes from the fact that they will be without the legendary Polish striker after he picked up a knee injury on international duty. That means the likelihood is that Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will lead the line up front as he did this past weekend, although Thomas Muller could also start as the furthest man forward.
Serge Gnabry is a doubt for the first leg after missing training but PSG are also struggling with injuries. Marco Verratti and Alessandro Florenzi have both tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the games, while Leandro Paredes is suspended for the first leg.
Both teams are weakened but PSG will feel as though they have a great chance of exacting their revenge with their first choice attack on the pitch. The one-legged final last year was a very close game in which PSG missed a host of chances before former academy star Kingsley Coman was able to head in the winner in the second half.
With Bayern not look as solid defensively this season and the game being played over two legs rather than one, it seems unlikely Flick’s team will be able to stop PSG from scoring yet again. Without Lewandowski in the team, the German side’s chances of scoring goals diminish hugely despite the quality they possess and if Mbappe and Neymar are fit and raring to go then this could be enough to see the Parisians come through with a win.
It’s quite easily the most closely contested tie of the round and I think PSG will be able to earn some revenge this year.
Bayern Munich 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Bayern Munich (Paris Saint-Germain to progress 3-1 on aggregate)
After a crushing win the in Champions League where they destroyed Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain were brought crashing down to Earth in Ligue 1 with a defeat against Monaco.
Goals from Sofian Diop and Guillermo Maripan in each half saw Mauricio Pochettino’s men well beaten, as Kylian Mbappe put in a stinker of a performance to haul him back down after his midweek hat-trick at the Camp Nou.
It means that the champions of France currently sit in third place in the league after 26 games, four points behind the leaders Lille.
When Pochettino was brought in during the Christmas break, it was expected that he would be able to boost his new club up to their usual level and get them back to the top of the league. Instead however, they’ve not been able to close the gap and are still in the same battle they were in under Thomas Tuchel.
Looking at the numbers, they’re not having a horrendous season as a team. They’ve conceded just 17 goals and scored a whopping 57 to have the best goal difference in the division but they’ve lost six games already this season. To put that into context, they lost eight in the previous two full campaigns combined.
Pochettino’s side in the Champions League tie looked assertive, dominant and clinical but domestically it seems to be a different story entirely. Whether it’s down to a lack of motivation or whether sides are just better prepared for them is hard to tell, but he needs to figure something out quickly.
Four points isn’t a lot and the fact they still need to play Lyon and Lille between now and the end of the season is obviously a big help to them and their chase for a fourth consecutive title.
The manager needs to find a balance in the team that can bring the best out of Mbappe once again, while also playing to the strengths of the rest of the squad. Neymar is out injured for a while and Angel Di Maria is struggling with fitness issues too, while the midfield is struggling for consistency in performance.
Marco Verratti is one of the best in the world and was rested for the defeat against Monaco but the likes of Danilo Pereira, Leandro Paredes, Ander Herrera, Rafinha, Idrissa Gueye and even Julian Draxler are very inconsisent and probably not of the correct quality for a team with the aspirations of PSG.
The summer transfer window will certainly be interesting for the club and the manager, but as for now they need to find a way to get themselves back to where they’re supposed to be considering the resources they have.
Pochettino’s reputation was sky-high before taking the job and unless he gets them another league title, it will plummet at the end of the campaign. He’s been warned – a couple of stand-out performances in Europe won’t be enough to save him from the media.