As Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hangs onto his job by the fingernails, speculation about his possible successor has been rife.
And while most of the attention has centred around the likes of former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, former Real Madrid man Zinedine Zidane and Ajax’s Erik Ten Hag, a relatively new name has suddenly emerged from the background to occupy most of the column inches in the national press’s sports sections.
Leicester City’s Brendan Rodgers.
Many had written off the Northern Irishman as a candidate because of his previous engagement with Liverpool. As The Express notes, he himself appeared to rule out the possibility, saying in 2015 ‘When you manage Liverpool, you know the Manchester United job is gone.’
But that was then, and this is now. And the fact is that The Express are swimming against the tide in their claims that he is an unlikely candidate for the job.
The Telegraph’s Jason Burt, for example, says ‘Some senior figures at Man Utd have reservations about Antonio Conte as a potential candidate.
‘Their preference, should a change be made, would still be a manager who is familiar with the Premier League and unsurprisingly there is strong interest in Leicester City’s Brendan Rodgers and, to a lesser extent, Paris Saint-Germain’s Mauricio Pochettino.’
Meanwhile, The Sun claims that Rodgers is ‘reportedly’ United’s first choice to replace the Norwegian, noting that he remained coy when asked about the rumours at his press conference yesterday.
Rodgers said: ‘My focus is always here with Leicester and developing the football club and challenging for honours.’
The Mail also claim that United are keen on the Leicester boss but believe it will be difficult to pry him away.
‘Sir Alex Ferguson – the last man to bring United a title in 2013 – is supportive of Solskjaer but continues to hanker after former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino and, ideally, United would like a British coach or at least one with Premier League experience,’ Ian Ladyman writes.
‘Someone, for example, like Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers. But the Northern Irishman has already turned down Tottenham and Newcastle. Unhelpfully, Rodgers would like the job at City when Pep Guardiola moves on.’
In many ways, Rodgers does fit the profile of the kind of manager that the United hierarchy would be more likely to appoint at this stage. But many fans would be concerned about his history at Liverpool.
It is not so much a case, as Rodgers himself said, of the rivalry being so fierce that fans couldn’t accept someone who had been at Anfield. The issue is more of his inability to bring success to Liverpool.
Some managers overachieve with average squads, but that does not necessarily make them good leaders of world class squads. In that sense, Rodgers’ experience at Liverpool suggests he could be another David Moyes, who has done wonders at the likes of Everton and West Ham but who could not command respect at United.
Whether United’s interest in the 48-year-old is real or not remains to be seen. But it is certainly a rumour that is rapidly gaining momentum in the press.