Manchester United line up interim Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to replace Jose Mourinho - sources

Former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be named as interim manager following the sacking of Jose Mourinho, sources have told ESPN FC, with Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino the top target to become next permanent manager.

United appeared to confirm Solskjaer's appointment on their website on Tuesday evening, but a video that featured the caption "Solskjaer becomes our interim manager, 20 seasons after clinching the Treble with THAT goal at Camp Nou..." was swiftly deleted.

And Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg sent a message of congratulation to Solskjaer on Twitter. "Great day for Norwegian football. Good luck keeping control of the Red Devils," Solberg wrote, but later deleted it.

United owners the Glazer family and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward called time on Mourinho's two-and-a-half year reign as manager on Tuesday, less than 48 hours after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool which left the team 19 points behind the Premier League leaders.

Sources have told ESPN FC that Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino remains United's top target to become the next permanent manager, but the club are keen to appoint an interim boss until the end of the season. United ideally want the position filed in the next 48 hours, in time for the caretaker boss to take charge for the game against Cardiff this Saturday.

Solskjaer joined United in 1996 and became a crowd favourite in his playing days, and more recently was in charge of the club's reserve team.

Mourinho's unwillingness to work under a Director of Football is known to have contributed to his departure earlier on Tuesday, but Solskjaer is unlikely to have an issue with that set-up.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Pochettino attempted to play down the rumours linking him with the permanent position, insisting that his focus remains with Spurs.

"You know after nearly five years there's a lot of rumours that happen in my position here. I cannot answer this type of question because this type of rumours happens in this business, in football.

"I respect the opinion of everyone -- when they praise me, when they don't agree with me. But it's not my business what happens in another club. I'm so focused on delivering my best job in this club and now we have ahead a very busy period.

"After nearly five years, what more do I need to say? From day one, not only in the coaching staff but with the players, there's a lot of rumours that happen. Today the business is like this.

"I accept the rumours when they're positive, when they're negative. I accept opinions when you win and people praise and when you lose and they're negative. That's part of our business and our job."

Woodward is a long-standing admirer of former Southampton boss Pochettino -- he considered him for the United job following Louis Van Gaal's dismissal in May 2016 -- and he has identified the 46-year-old as the man to resurrect United after five years of under-performance since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement.

Spurs are likely to fight any United interest on their highly rated coach, who is also a target for Real Madrid. The Argentine is currently on an £8.5 million-a-year deal at Spurs which expires in 2023.

Although Pochettino is United's top target, the club may have to consider other options if Spurs chairman Daniel Levy plays hard ball. Here are some other options United could pursue should Pochettino be out of reach.

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Zinedine Zidane

Zidane is available having left Real Madrid in June after winning his third successive Champions League with the club. The former France international took the reins at the Bernabeu under similarly chaotic circumstances to what could await at United, following Real's 4-0 defeat to rivals Barcelona in November 2015.

He united a fractured dressing room and had lifted his first Champions League as a manager within months of taking charge. His expertise comes in getting the best out of a dressing room of star names, and he may be just what is required at Old Trafford.

Laurent Blanc

Another former France international, Blanc spent his final two seasons as a player at United and made 75 appearances before retiring in 2003. Blanc has been out of management since leaving Paris Saint-Germain in 2016, but has emerged as a contender for the caretaker manager role at Old Trafford.

He won three successive Ligue 1 titles during his time at PSG, adding to the title he won with Bordeaux in 2009, but ultimately fell short in the Champions League where they were knocked out in the quarterfinals in each of his three seasons.

Michael Carrick

Carrick joined Mourinho's coaching staff following his retirement in May and could be appointed caretaker manager until the end of the season. The former England international knows the club inside out having spent 12 seasons at Old Trafford as a player, and could now have the opportunity to show what he can offer from the dugout. Zidane developed his managerial reputation in similar circumstances at Real Madrid following the departure of Rafael Benitez, could Carrick have a similar impact at Old Trafford?

Antonio Conte

Ex-Chelsea boss Conte and Mourinho did not get along during their two seasons as Premier League rivals and the Italian would surely take great pleasure in replacing the Portuguese at Old Trafford.

Although his time in England was short lived, Conte impressed during his first year at Stamford Bridge, taking a Chelsea side that had finished 10th the previous campaign -- in what was also Mourinho's final season at the club -- to Premier League champions. Conte left England having won the FA Cup, beating Mourinho's United in his last game in charge.

Diego Simeone

Although Simeone only extended his contract at Atletico Madrid in 2017, the Argentine has regularly been linked to a Premier League move in recent seasons. Simeone's work at Atletico since taking charge in 2011 has taken the club out of the shadows of their fierce city rivals Real, winning La Liga, Copa del Rey as well as two Europa Leagues.

Although the Champions League has eluded him, Simeone's gritty Atletico has proved to be the perfect kryptonite to Pep Guardiola's sides in recent years, such as their semifinal win over Pep's Bayern Munich in 2016.

Massimiliano Allegri

The Juventus boss has won four successive Serie A and Coppa Italia doubles since joining from AC Milan in 2014. Allegri wasn't a popular appointment at Juventus at the time, but has built on Antonio Conte's work to dominate Italian football.

Juventus are eight points clear at the top of the table and look certain to win their eighth title in a row having recorded 15 wins and a draw from their first 16 games this campaign. Perhaps the time has come for a new challenge for Allegri, although the Italian signed a contract extension last summer until 2020.