Man Utd completed Mauricio Pochettino 'checks' weeks before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacking

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Manchester United’s decision to sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came as little surprise following a miserable run of form.

Defeat to Watford on Saturday meant the Red Devils had picked up just four points from the last 21 available in the league.

What did come as a surprise however was United sticking with the Norwegian after chastening defeats to rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.

Speculation was swirling regarding Solskjaer’s future after Liverpool smashed them 5-0 at Old Trafford, but Old Trafford bosses resisted the temptation.

Solskjaer then earned a stay of execution when they beat Tottenham 3-0, a result which saw his opposite number Nuno Espirito Santo dismissed.

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Mauricio Pochettino is Man Utd's top target to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (

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Antonio Conte subsequently replaced him, removing a major contender to replace Solskjaer in the process.

However, the win at Spurs was followed up by a meek surrender against City going into the latest international break.

Had they decided to relieve Solskjaer of his duties then, the new man would have had two weeks to assess their new squad before the trip to Vicarage Road.

Alas, United stuck to their guns, a decision they would instantly regret following the 4-1 demolition by the Hornets.

But despite their apparent desperation for Solskjaer to be given more time, the Athletic report that moves were being made behind the scenes to replace him.

They suggest that background checks were completed on Mauricio Pochettino weeks before the axe finally came down on Solskjaer.

United bosses have targeted the Argentine for up to six years and are growing increasingly confident that they could finally land him this time around.

Pochettino still has 18 months remaining on his Paris Saint-Germain contract but has reportedly shown he would be keen to return to the Premier League.

PSG sporting director Leonardo reportedly held an emergency meeting with Pochettino amid rumours of his interest in the Man Utd job (

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The ex-Spurs boss was in Manchester this week, overseeing PSG’s 2-1 defeat to City at the Etihad, with reports he held emergency talks with sporting director Leonardo.

L'Equipe state that Leonardo allegedly wanted to 'take the pulse of the situation and gauge his desire to leave'.

The PSG sporting director is said to have left the 10pm meeting with the impression that Pochettino is not in an immediate rush to leave the French giants.

In their statement following the dismissal of Solskjaer it was suggested that United would look to hire an interim boss to bridge the gap until the end of the season.

Man Utd are set to hire an interim boss following Solskjaer's sacking (

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That could make negotiations with PSG more simple with the French giants unlikely to allow their head coach to leave in the middle of the season without a real fight.

City’s win on Wednesday could hand United a major boost however, with the Athletic adding PSG bosses are not as betrothed to Pochettino as they were during the summer, when he was handed a new deal.

This managerial search will be conducted by football director John Murtough, negotiator Matt Judge and technical director Darren Fletcher and the new brain trust are determined to take their time on United’s fifth permanent managerial appointment since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.

And their lengthy checks on Pochettino suggest that if he is the man selected, it will be part of a long-term process, rather than a decision borne out of desperation.

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