Roma head coach Jose Mourinho is one of the greatest managers of his generation and has nothing to prove, according to Leicester City counterpart Brendan Rodgers.

Mourinho and Rodgers will come face-to-face on Thursday when Leicester host Roma for the first leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final.

The pair worked closely together when Rodgers was head of youth development at Chelsea during Mourinho's first spell in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho's stock has fallen somewhat in recent years, with this his first trip to England since being sacked by Tottenham in April last year.

The Portuguese has since had a mixed time of things in charge of Roma, with the Europa Conference League his last realistic shot at success this season.

Despite going five years since last winning a trophy – the Europa League with United in 2016-17 – Rodgers remains a big supporter of Mourinho.

"He has nothing to prove to anyone. He will always be a winner," Rodgers said at his pre-match news conference on Wednesday. 

"I cannot speak any higher of him. He is one of the greats of our generation. I have got nothing but admiration for him. 

"I became a manager in my own right but I'll never forget what I gained from him as a young coach. I studied him and watched him and at that time it was a really special period."

Mourinho has won 25 trophies in four different countries across a 22-year career in senior management, including the Champions League with Porto and Inter.

"He had the X factor," Rodgers said when asked why he rates Mourinho as one of the best. "There isn't one single thing. He was brilliant in so many aspects of the game.

"Detail-orientated, man-management of the players, his understanding of the tactical adaptation of the game, he had that special quality I was able to see."


Leicester have struggled for consistency domestically this season and are only competing in the Europa Conference League after dropping out of the Europa League.

The Foxes have defeated Randers, Rennes and PSV to make it through to the semi-finals of UEFA's third-tier competition, where they will face Roma for the first time.

City have failed to win their previous two games against Italian opposition, losing and drawing with Napoli this season, while Roma have won just one of their 21 away games in England.

Rodgers, who confirmed striker Jamie Vardy could make a second start of 2022, is eager to set up a final against either Feyenoord or Marseille.

"It's a prestigious competition, all four teams will want to win it," he said.

"It's a fantastic occasion against a top-class team. To get to the final we will do everything we can. It's another symbol of our growth as a club."

Leicester have lost just one of their last 16 home games in all European competitions and none in the 2021-22 campaign.

Brendan Rodgers says Leicester City's lack of experience showed in their 0-0 draw with PSV but remains hopeful of advancing into the Europa Conference League semi-finals.

The Foxes could not find a way through from any of their 10 shots in Thursday's quarter-final first leg at the King Power Stadium, just two of which were on target.

That equated to an expected goals (xG) return of 0.72 for City, compared to 0.47 for PSV, who tested Kasper Schmeichel on only one occasion in the stalemate.

It is the first time Leicester have failed to score in a European game in nine outings, having netted 20 times across the previous eight at an average of 2.5 goals per game.

Leicester were competing in just their second European quarter-final, the other coming in the 2016-17 Champions League, whereas PSV have reached the last eight 16 times.

And City boss Rodgers, whose side have lacked consistency throughout the season, felt that told in a game between two well-matched teams.

"At times we showed our lack of experience but that will come," he said at his post-match news conference. "In the first half we broke through but then tried to force it.

"It was always going to be tight. You want to win it but it wasn't to be. We'll go there and they'll open up more and that will give us more space. We're looking forward to it."


Harvey Barnes went closest to netting for City when rattling the crossbar just before half-time, while Mario Gotze was denied by a good Schmeichel stop from PSV's best chance.

Kelechi Iheanacho led the line in the absence of injured strike partner Jamie Vardy and attempted twice as many shots (four) as any player, despite playing only 67 minutes.

After a frustrating day in front of goal, Rodgers admitted he was after more cutting-edge from his attacking players. 

"It's a good performance. There were not too many chances," he said. "PSV had an early one but apart from that I thought we defended strongly.

"There were not too many chances in the game. Maybe a bit more quality in the final third would have made it a bit easier for us. 

"We just lacked that bit of quality up there. We just didn't have that extra final bit of quality to create that chance.

"There was no surprise in terms of PSV. They have good players and are a threat on the counter-attack. 

"Domestically PSV score a lot of goals home and away but we restricted them to not so much."

Leicester have now lost just one of their last 16 matches in European competition, keeping eight clean sheets in the process.

The return leg takes place at Philips Stadion next Thursday, with the winners to take on either Bodo/Glimt or Roma in the semi-finals.

James Maddison's importance to Leicester City is of little debate, but the Foxes are considering selling the playmaker.

Though the 25-year-old's sole senior England cap came in 2019, he has provided 13 goals and eight assists in 41 appearances across all competitions this season.

However, Maddison's sale might be required to facilitate the Foxes strengthening in other areas.



Leicester are weighing up the prospect of Maddison's sale in order to make new signings, the Daily Mail has reported.

Manager Brendan Rodgers wants three new additions to propel the Foxes up the Premier League following a season in which they have plateaued.

Leicester will reportedly back Rodgers, but the impact of coronavirus on their finances would likely mean outgoing as well as incoming transfers, and Maddison holds one of the higher market values at the club.

The 25-year-old's £50million price tag would provide serious flexibility in the transfer market, while the club also has to make decisions on Caglar Soyuncu and Youri Tielemans.


–  Barcelona want to confirm a contract extension for Ronald Araujo , who has received an offer from Manchester United, according to Sport, but the 23-year-old has viewed this club's pursuit of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen with caution.

–  Arsenal and Tottenham are keen to sign Lautaro Martinez , but Inter will only sell if they meet a transfer demand in excess of €80million (£67.3m), per Calciomercato.

– The Sun is reporting Newcastle are preparing a £20million offer for Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Robert Sanchez, while also showing interest in Watford's Ismaila Sarr.

–  Manchester United target Manuel Akanji wants to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season and is considering a move to the Premier League, according to Sport1.

Brendan Rodgers praised Wesley Fofana’s mentality, following his goal to put Leicester City through to the Europa Conference League quarter-finals.

Leicester lost 2-1 on the night, but Fofana’s goal upon his return put Leicester through 3-2 on aggregate.

The 21-year-old Frenchman has not played since breaking his leg in pre-season, but along with his goal to separate the teams on aggregate, quickly adapted to a tense European atmosphere.

Rodgers highlighted it was the mark of a top player.

"He’s an amazing player, that’s what top players do,” Rodgers told BT Sport post-match. "He’s only been back in training a few weeks but they want to go and head it and show that determination. That’s what we’ve missed for a lot of the season.

"That’s a top player’s mentality, he’s such a top prospect. Now he’s just got to try and build his fitness up. He was exceptional on the night."

With Lovro Majer back in the Rennes starting XI for the second leg, it was an unsurprisingly fast start and Benjamin Bourigeaud put them up after only eight minutes.

Fofana equalised on 51 minutes, handing Rennes a sizeable task to eventually turn the tie around. Rodgers was still critical of his side’s performance, but was nevertheless relieved progression was secured, given the opposition.

"I think with the ball we were really, really poor," he said.

"Our football in the game, especially in the first half, was nowhere near what I would expect. What we did show tonight was real character, especially with the players missing and lots of young players tasting this level for the first time. It’s character building for them.

"We had to show resilience. You can see they’re a good side, Rennes, so to get through is a fantastic feeling. We knew they were going to make a fast start and come after us.

"They got the early goal as well, but we showed a good mentality, a good concentration level."

Jamie Vardy is set for another layoff with a knee injury after Brendan Rodgers confirmed the Leicester City striker will be out for "a few weeks", while Wesley Fofana's return from a long-term absence has been delayed.

Vardy, 35, has already spent a lot of time on the sidelines in 2022, with his substitute appearance in the 2-0 win at Burnley on March 1 being his first outing of the year following a two-month spell out with a hamstring injury.

He subsequently started Leicester's 1-0 defeat of Leeds United four days later, but during that match he sustained damage to his knee.

Rodgers was somewhat vague when outlining how long he expects Vardy to be out, but it would seem Leicester will be without their top scorer for potentially up to a month.

"He got a knock to his knee, but hopefully in the next three to four weeks it responds okay," Rodgers said ahead of Thursday's Europa Conference League last-16 clash with Rennes.

"He's going to be out for a few weeks, which is a shame."

Rodgers had been hoping to give centre-back Fofana his first competitive minutes of the season during the visit of Rennes.

The young Frenchman returned to training in February after breaking his leg in a pre-season clash with Villarreal last August.

But he will have to wait a little longer for his long-awaited return after a bout of COVID-19.

"[Fofana] has picked up COVID, which has been our season right the way through with injuries and unfortunate circumstances," Rodgers said.

"He is not going to be able to feature [Thursday] but we are hoping for the weekend now.

"It is really unfortunate for the two guys, and in particular Wesley, who has been building up to this moment. We just have to cope with the set-backs that come along."

Jamie Vardy has now scored 94 Premier League goals since turning 30, surpassing the previous record.

Vardy, who had been ruled out with a hamstring injury since Leicester City's win over Liverpool on December 28, returned to the matchday squad for their trip to Turf Moor on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old came on as a second-half substitute and, after assisting James Maddison's opener, wrapped up a 2-0 win - Leicester's first league victory of 2022 - when he headed home from Harvey Barnes' cross.

He has now surpassed Ian Wright's tally of 93 Premier League goals after hitting the age of 30, and also both scored and assisted after coming on as a substitute for the first time in his top-flight career.

"He's just clever," Brendan Rodgers said, as reported by BBC Sport Leicester. "His game knowledge and idea of the game, the streetwise things, [they] are the things we’ve been missing [in his absence]. 

"His movement was electric, his running brings others into the game."

Since his Premier League debut in August 2014, Vardy has been directly involved in 168 goals in the competition, scoring 128 times and providing 40 assists. His haul is bettered only by his former England team-mate Harry Kane during that time, with the Tottenham man tallying up 207 Premier League goal contributions. 

Brendan Rodgers described Wesley Fofana as "a genuinely top player" as the defender returned to training with Leicester City.

The centre-back has not played since fracturing his fibula in a pre-season friendly against Villarreal last August.

Fofana's absence has felt particularly significant in a Leicester season blighted by injuries. Rodgers' side have won just seven Premier League games in 2021-22 and conceded 43 goals, with only three sides letting in more in England's top flight.

Leicester also shipped 11 in their Europa League group games as they finished third behind Spartak Moscow and Napoli, dropping into a Europa Conference League play-off against Randers, the second leg of which is on Thursday.

Fofana will certainly not be involved in that game and is unlikely to return for some weeks as Rodgers eases him back into action.

However, the Leicester boss is thrilled to have the 21-year-old back at the training ground.

"We have to be careful with Wesley, but we'll manage that," he said. "He's just joined training, so he's not imminently close to playing. We'll give him a few weeks training with the squad, and then we'll take it from there really.

"Just to see him back in training, it really shows what we've missed. This is a genuine top talent. When you see him come back in, it was like the first day he came in to train when he joined us. It's a different mentality – aggression, anticipation. It's just sheer quality that the boy has.

"We'll just build him up and there's no doubt, when he gets back to playing, it will be great to have him back in the team. Throughout his rehabilitation, he's been superb. For a young player, in particular, it's his first real big injury, so it'll be hard for him to be out, but he really focused on his work ever so hard.

"It's great to have him back. It's like JJ [James Justin] coming back in [from an ACL injury]. You see the quality of the player that you've been missing when they're back in the group. That gives the group a boost. He's a genuine top player. When you have that quality, you see the mentality of him.

"He's aggressive, he fights for every ball, he’s competitive and then, when he has the ball, he's got big quality. To have that back in your training will always improve the level. It's great for me to see that on its way back into the team."

Brendan Rodgers expressed his concern that "the rules of society have changed" after a Leicester City fan attacked Nottingham Forest players in Sunday's FA Cup match.

The holders were thrashed 4-1 by the Championship side at the City Ground as their disappointing season took another negative turn.

As Forest celebrated their third goal, scored by Joe Worrall, a man emerged from the section for away supporters and appeared to swing punches at the group of home players before stewards wrestled him away.

He was later arrested and will reportedly face a life ban from all Leicester games.

Rodgers said the incident was symptomatic of "people feeling entitled" to act as they please in wider society.

"The rules of society have changed. There's a total lack of respect," said the Leicester boss.

"It's not just in football, it's in life. I speak to many business people and people in the military, all across society. It's the lack of respect and people feeling entitled that they can do things.

"The rules of society need to change, and we see that lack of respect today. We've seen it for the last couple of years. Supporters breaking into stadiums, what is that about?

"You come, you support your team and win, lose or draw, you have respect. It's lacking in society and it spreads into other aspects of life.

"It's behaviour that you never want to see. Whatever goes on in the field, it has to be a safe environment for the players, and we must always retain the respect in football.

"Unfortunately the guy has come on to the pitch and was clearly, clearly disappointed by what he was watching."

The result meant Leicester became the first FA Cup holders to lose a match in the following season's competition by three or more goals since Liverpool against Luton Town in January 1987.

They have now conceded 58 goals in all competitions this season, at least 10 more than any other Premier League club.

Leicester City only suffered a late capitulation against Tottenham because they presented them with the chance to steal three points, according to Brendan Rodgers. 

Goals from Patson Daka and James Maddison either side of Harry Kane's 250th club strike appeared to have put Leicester on course for a much-needed victory at the King Power Stadium on Wednesday. 

However, Steven Bergwijn equalised in the 95th minute and grabbed a dramatic second 79 seconds later after Youri Tielemans ceded possession from the kick-off.  

Spurs' win came despite trailing after 94 minutes and 52 seconds, which is the latest a team has been losing before going on to win a Premier League match. 

Rodgers criticised his players for failing to secure back-to-back top-flight wins for the first time since October from such a promising position. 

"It was 93 minutes of really good work. We showed good resilience in defence. The goals we scored were terrific," Rodgers told BT Sport. 

"To concede the equaliser was disappointing to happen so late, but the winner was a very poor goal to concede. It is hard to not have taken anything from the game. 

"It's managing the game. Fundamentally, we missed out on key moments leading to the second goal and the third goal, Youri knows he can never make that pass, it was really naive from him. 

"That was a great opportunity, but you have to see that through. I don't think Tottenham won the game, we presented them the three points. 

"It's bitterly disappointing but we have to get back on the training pitch and prepare again for the weekend." 

Leicester next entertain Brighton and Hove Albion, who sit four points clear of them in ninth, on Sunday. 

Tottenham coach Antonio Conte believes the decision to postpone last weekend's scheduled north London derby was "very, very strange", but Leicester City counterpart Brendan Rodgers appreciates the Premier League's caution.

Arsenal submitted their request to have the game called off due to a lack of first-team player availability.

But critics accused the club of exploiting the Premier League's rules in order to get out of games while players were absent through injury, suspension or Africa Cup of Nations duty.

Arsenal had only one confirmed positive COVID-19 case at the time of their application, but the Premier League deemed they were unable to meet the required number of available players (13 outfielders and a goalkeeper) despite their Under-23s managing to field a squad of 16 on Friday.

Spurs released a statement criticising the decision, and Conte has since commented in public for the first time.

"The club made a statement and it was very clear to show our disappointment," the Italian told reporters. "It was disappointing because we prepared the game to play against Arsenal and the decision to postpone the game was very, very strange.

"My feeling is that when there is a situation to play we have to play, not to postpone games for injuries, for international duty.

"I think we have a big problem to solve and that is COVID, but only about this situation can you decide to postpone, not for other situations.

"Honestly, it's my first time in my life – and I've had a bit of experience in football – to see this type of decision."

Frustrations relating to postponements had been building over the previous couple of weeks and they seemed to reach boiling point with the decision to call off the derby.

Much of the discontent relates to certain clubs' apparent reluctance to use younger players from their second or academy teams.

Leeds United were praised on Sunday for going ahead with their match away to West Ham and winning 3-2 despite seven of their nine substitutes having no prior Premier League experience at all – one of the two who had appeared in a top-flight game before had only a three-minute cameo to his name.

Premier League rules state Under-21 players must be deemed "appropriately experienced" in order to count towards top-flight eligibility criteria for postponement purposes, and Rodgers – whose Leicester face Spurs on Wednesday – feels this is the fairest approach for the mental well-being of youngsters.

"It depends on how you frame it," Rodgers responded when asked about the apparent under-utilisation of young players.

"We have young players coming in now like [Kiernan] Dewsbury-Hall, and his timeline is that he went out on loan.

"You have to be careful. Not every Under-23 player is ready for Premier League football and you don't want to destroy a career. Development is different for players. We will look to play young players at the right time, we have been able to do that in the FA Cup.

"The rules are clear. For the Premier League, you have to have 13 plus a goalkeeper, so there is enough clarity. It doesn't say the guys out have to be out with COVID. The rules are there and clear.

"We are clear on where we are now. We were shown in a managers' meeting that it will hit different areas at different times, and different parts of the country will be hit.

"Lots of players are injured because they are having to play more. The Premier League have tried to be as fair as they can, and then there's Under-23s if they are experienced enough.

"We played the FA Cup game, but then we couldn't play the next game because we didn't have the players.

"Everyone has an opinion, but unless you're inside a club and are privy to the injuries and COVID cases, then it's probably difficult to say [games shouldn't be postponed]. All the clubs are working to get the games on."

Brendan Rodgers admitted he is going through the toughest period of his managerial career after Leicester City lost 6-3 to Manchester City on Sunday.

The Foxes found themselves 4-0 down after just 25 minutes at the Etihad Stadium before three goals in 10 minutes in the second half saw them threaten a fightback.

However, an Aymeric Laporte header put the Premier League leaders back in control before Raheem Sterling made certain of all three points with his second of thrilling game.

Leicester have won just one of their past six games in all competitions and only three since October 27. Their run has left them 10th in the Premier League, seen them exit the EFL Cup and drop from the Europa League into the Europa Conference League.

Rodgers, who must prepare his side to face his former club Liverpool in two days' time, accepted he is enduring his most difficult spell in management but insisted they are "not getting the violins out".

"It definitely is," he said when asked if this is the most challenging period he has faced.

"There's no doubt this is a huge challenge. We're not getting the violins out. You see what we're missing. The players aren't available.

"Offensively we're really good but if you're missing the players [we are], it's a real challenge.

"Take [Jonny] Evans, [Caglar] Soyuncu, [Ricardo] Pereira, James Justin and Wesley Fofana out of our squad then it's huge. We have to keep trying to find the solutions. We'll continue to fight. We competed at the top of the league disrupting everything when we had players available.

"The results are obviously disappointing, but you have to look at the condition of the team and the players we have missing. We're not a deep enough squad, like a Manchester City, Liverpool or Chelsea, to be able to carry it out. But what I do expect is what I saw in the second half which was incredible spirit and quality when we had the opportunities."

Brendan Rodgers has joined Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp in warning of the dangers of over-burdening players during England's hectic festive period.

Leicester City manager Rodgers saw his players lose on penalties to Liverpool in the EFL Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday, and he will take them to Manchester City on Sunday before tackling Liverpool again in the Premier League on Tuesday.

Three games in seven days would be a strain in normal times, but with COVID-19 spreading rapidly and injuries beginning to bite for many teams, clubs are having it tougher than usual just now.

A third game was pulled from England's Boxing Day programme on Friday when Everton's trip to Burnley was called off.

Leicester's visit to the Etihad Stadium remained on though, and although the Foxes have fond memories of their 5-2 win at Eastlands last season, Rodgers was only confident enough to say his team would be "as competitive as we can".

Klopp has been firm in his objection to there being so many games in such a short time span, saying his Reds team, hit by injuries and illness, faced an "impossible" task prior to their assignment against Leeds United on Sunday being called off.

City boss Guardiola floated the idea of a strike by players and managers when he spoke on Thursday, as he addressed the issue of player welfare and burden. Guardiola said he doubted that was a realistic option, but merely raising the suggestion was an extraordinary step.

Rodgers agrees too much is being asked of players.

"To be playing Manchester City on Sunday, and then to be playing Liverpool again on Tuesday, it's not good for the players," said the Leicester boss. "Certainly for the health and welfare of them it's not ideal, but obviously it has been said that we have to play on for another two weeks, and then we take it from there.

"So if that's the case we'll just look to be as competitive as we can. We were competitive [against Liverpool]. That's how we'll always try to approach it going forward."

Guardiola's City have won eight games in a row to sweep to the top of the Premier League and open a three-point lead over second-placed Liverpool, while Leicester sit ninth after an unsteady start to their campaign.

There was a hint of envy about Rodgers as he pointed out the Manchester giants had a free midweek, having already been knocked out of the EFL Cup, with the intimation that gave their already formidable team an extra advantage over Leicester.

"They're a brilliant side," Rodgers added. "They've got technical players, world-class players and, and they're used to winning. But we've done OK against them. So it's going to be a big challenge for us.

"We went there last season and got a fantastic win. You know the challenge that you're playing against: they dominate the ball, you've got to be good in transition, and you've got to obviously have the confidence to play so that'll be a challenge for the weekend."

The fixture is an intriguing one, despite Manchester City having won eight of their last 10 Premier League games against Leicester (L2), including a 1-0 victory in the reverse fixture earlier this season.

Leicester's win in Manchester was spectacular last season and featured a Jamie Vardy hat-trick, his second treble against City in the Premier League. Vardy has eight Premier League goals against the Light Blues, with only Alan Shearer (11) and Wayne Rooney (nine) having ever netted more Premier League goals against City than Vardy.

Yet Vardy, who scored twice in the 3-3 thriller against Liverpool on Wednesday before the Reds beat Leicester in a penalty shoot-out, has never scored in six Premier League appearances on Boxing Day. That makes him one of just three players to score over 100 goals in the competition but fail to find the net on Boxing Day, along with Sergio Aguero and Les Ferdinand.

Leicester won three league games in a row away against City between 1995 and 2003, but they have not won back-to-back league wins at City's home since that streak.

The signs point to a likely victory for Guardiola's men, given they are unbeaten in eight home league games on Boxing Day (W6 D2), winning each of the last six in a row. Their last such defeat came in 1996-97 against Port Vale in the second tier (1-0).

Leicester have a rotten recent record, winning just one of their last 11 Premier League games on Boxing Day (D2 L8), though the exception in that run was a 2-1 victory over City on December 26 three years ago.

Rodgers will hope James Maddison can sparkle, with the playmaker having scored in five of his last seven games after a dip in output. In the Premier League alone, Maddison has had six goal involvements (three goals, three assists) in his last four games – as many as in his previous 26 appearances.

"I think he sees that he's a real threat," said Rodgers. "He's starting to get back to the levels and producing, which is what he has to do: create goals, score goals, work hard. And he's doing all of that."

Eljif Elmas scored twice as Napoli earned a spot in the play-offs for the Europa League last 16 with a 3-2 win over Leicester City, who fall into the Europa Conference League.

Leicester travelled to Naples knowing they would guarantee a top-two finish in Group C if they could avoid defeat, but first-half strikes from Adam Ounas and Elmas put the hosts ahead on Thursday.

Jonny Evans and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall quickly restored parity in a chaotic opening 45 minutes, only for Elmas to net again after the break and decisively edge Napoli back in front.

Luciano Spalletti's side settled for second – with Spartak Moscow defeating Legia Warsaw, following a 98th-minute penalty save, to top the group – and go into a two-legged play-off in February, while the third-placed visitors face a tie at the same stage of the Europa Conference League.

In a frantic start, Mario Rui's goal-line clearance denied Timothy Castagne following Dewsbury-Hall's cutback, before Napoli went up the other end and Ounas finished into the bottom-left corner after just four minutes.

Napoli doubled their lead when Andrea Petagna unselfishly squared for Elmas to tap in, but Evans quickly responded by firing past Alex Meret after James Maddison's free-kick was deflected towards him.

And Leicester were soon level as Dewsbury-Hall expertly volleyed into the bottom-right corner from the edge of the area.

Kasper Schmeichel pushed away from Ounas after the break, but the Denmark international was powerless when Elmas steered in to restore Napoli's advantage.

Maddison then spurned a glorious chance as he cannoned onto the post following Giovanni Di Lorenzo's mistake, and Jamie Vardy headed over in stoppage time after Schmeichel's save from Kevin Malcuit had kept Leicester's hopes alive.

Manchester United's managerial post is vacant after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday.

Solskjaer had led United since December 2018 but failed to win a trophy, finishing runners-up in last season's Premier League and Europa League.

The lean spell has United desperate to return to their former glories with their next managerial appointment.



World Cup winner and ex-Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is not interested in the vacant Manchester United job, reports BBC Sport.

Zidane left Madrid in May after failing to win LaLiga and has been linked with a host of roles since.

United have approached the 49-year-old about their vacant post but he is not interested in the position at this point.


- Fichajes claims that reported United target Mauricio Pochettino would put Tottenham's Harry Kane at the top of his wishlist if he got the Red Devils job. The current Paris Saint-Germain boss is among those linked with the vacant post. The Telegraph claims that Pochettino is open to moving to Old Trafford at the end of this season.

- Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is United's second choice behind Pochettino reports Sky Sports, while The Sun claims the Red Devils have already approached Leicester City's Brendan Rodgers.

- Sport claims that new Barcelona boss Xavi wants to sign Al-Sadd's Algeria international striker Baghdad Bounedjah. Xavi coached Al-Sadd until taking over at Barca earlier this month.

- Tottenham may make a move for Roma midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo who is unhappy at the club, claims Calciomercato.

- Fichajes reports that Real Madrid have an interest in Mason Mount, who is currently in talks with Chelsea on a new deal. Manchester City and Bayern Munich are also interested in Mount's services.

Manchester United's 4-1 embarrassment at the hands of Watford proved to be the final straw for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Red Devils have performed poorly this season, losing five of their past seven Premier League fixtures, with the loss at Vicarage Road their heaviest defeat against a promoted side since September 1989.

Saturday's demolition may have been the final nail, but a 5-0 crushing by Liverpool on October 24 seemed to make Solskjaer's departure a case of when, not if. 

The thrashing by Jurgen Klopp's side set several unwanted records, including United's largest margin of defeat against Liverpool at home and the first time the Red Devils had trailed by four goals at half-time in the Premier League.

Solskjaer only signed a new three-year deal with an option for an additional year in July, but disappointing results – including a home humbling by Manchester City since the Liverpool game – have forced the Norwegian out before a Champions League trip to Villarreal.

With Solskjaer through the exit door, Michael Carrick is in temporary charge. But who might take his spot and be charged with guiding United back to the top? Stats Perform takes a look at some of the favourites.

Zinedine Zidane

A free agent – and a particularly glamorous option – is Zinedine Zidane. The former France star's second stint as Real Madrid boss came to an end in May, and he remains available.

Zidane won the Champions League three times in a row in his first spell as Los Blancos head coach and also claimed two LaLiga titles over his five years in the role.

The 49-year-old is the record holder for most consecutive LaLiga away wins (13) and the longest unbeaten run in Spanish football (40 games) and United would surely see him as an upgrade on Solskjaer.

Zidane has also previously coached Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane, to great success, and might be the perfect candidate to get United's stars working together cohesively. And he just may persuade Paul Pogba to stay.

Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers is less decorated than the previous name on this list, but he has a wealth of experience in the English game and has done an admirable job in his current post as Leicester City head coach, guiding the Foxes to their first FA Cup triumph last season as well as successive fifth-placed Premier League finishes.

He also claimed back-to-back domestic trebles in his two and a half seasons with Celtic, but his association with United's rivals Liverpool may prove to be an obstacle, having come within two points of winning the Premier League in his second season on Merseyside.

Rodgers has been linked to the post but said this week the reports were "disrespectful" to Solskjaer "when you have a manager in place, a good manager and a good man, who is working hard at the club". He added: "I am here as the Leicester City manager, proud to be here, privileged to be here and fully committed to the players, the club, the ownership. That's about it, all the other noise around that is something we can't control."

Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino has reportedly long been admired by United, being regularly linked with a move to Old Trafford in his five-year spell in north London, having taken Tottenham to a Champions League final in that time.

However, the Argentine only joined Paris Saint-Germain in January and signed a contract extension until 2023 in July, and he is coaching a team that includes Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, not to mention the rest of PSG's star-studded squad.

Never say never, but this deal would certainly be a difficult one for United to pull off given the timing.

Erik ten Hag

Erik ten Hag has impressed in his time at Ajax, winning two Eredivisie titles and embarking on a memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19, knocking Madrid and Juventus out before going out on away goals to Pochettino's Spurs.

Ajax have been entertaining and effective under Ten Hag in Europe this term and, ahead of Sunday's game in hand at RKC Waalwijk, are three points behind title rivals PSV after beating them 5-0 earlier in the season.

However, it remains to be seen if the Dutchman – who was also linked with the Newcastle United job that Eddie Howe now occupies – would be willing to leave mid-season.

Ralf Rangnick

Ralf Rangnick, who is working for Lokomotiv Moscow as their head of sports and development but is better known for his high-pressing philosophy as a coach and his influence on some of the Bundesliga's brightest minds, could be a short-term option for United.

The 63-year-old's managerial career dates back to 1983 when he started in charge of Viktoria Backnang but – despite spells with RB Leipzig, Schalke and Hoffenheim – the German remains relatively unknown outside his homeland.

Rangnick faced United in his time with Schalke, who were defeated by Alex Ferguson's side in the 2011 Champions League semi-final as the Red Devils made their third final in four years.

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