Man Utd chief John Murtough ‘sounding out targets’ with Ernesto Valverde as talks held

Carrick calls for focus after emotional few days at Man Utd

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Manchester United interim target Ernesto Valverde is supposedly sounding out players already after talks were held with football director John Murtough. The Spaniard has been out of work since leaving Barcelona in 2020 – meaning he could be a cheap and straightforward option for the Red Devils as they hunt for someone to step in until the end of the season. 

Amid an emotional week for United, Michael Carrick has stepped up to a caretaker role after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked following a heavy defeat against Watford. 

With no managerial experience, a search is ongoing behind the scenes to find the right candidate to see out United’s season in a respectable fashion. 

Reportedly, the plan will then be to find Solskjaer’s permanent replacement during the summer, with an apparent lack of suitable candidates available at present. 

According to The Guardian, United and Murtough recently turned to Valverde regarding the interim position. 

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Furthermore, talks are at an advanced enough stage for the 57-year-old to already be sounding out his own transfer targets. 

Sitting 12 points off Premier League pace-setters Chelsea, some improvements could be in the pipeline for January as United look to salvage their season by at least finishing in the top-four. 

Whether that constitutes a raid on former club Barca remains to be seen, but the Catalan side may be looking for business given their mounting debt. 

The likes of Frenkie De Jong, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho have all been linked to a Camp Nou exit, which could be something for the Red Devils to consider. 


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Meanwhile, Valverde has a host of other impressive clubs on his CV. 

Over time, the manager has accumulated good contacts with the likes of Athletic Bilbao, Valencia and Tuesday’s opponents, Villarreal, after managing them in the past. 

His experience of managing megastar Lionel Messi could also prove crucial, with big personalities like Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernendes to contend with. 

United chiefs may be reluctant to reach for the chequebook once again after a free-spending summer. 

Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane were amongst the superstars to be lured in, becoming part of a squad which many tipped to compete with the Premier League’s big hitters this season. 

However, with team morale at an all-time low, lifting the Premier League trophy now appears to be out of the question. 

Although Valverde has been in discussions with United, the club have not yet ruled out a U-turn on their initial plan to appoint an interim boss for the rest of the season. Mauricio Pochettino is being heavily linked with taking over the job in the coming weeks, though he dismissed those rumours on Tuesday. 

Speaking ahead of PSG’s trip to Manchester City, he said: “I’m happy in Paris. I know the city well both as a player and a coach – I have always lived this type of situation.

“Things happen and it’s not my responsibility. What I’m going to say if you ask me is that I’m happy in Paris.”

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