Mauricio Pochettino “looks like a Manchester United manager”, says Phil Neville, with the Tottenham head coach expected to remain in the picture even if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is handed a permanent contract.
No decision has been made as yet, though, and links to the likes of Pochettino remain.
Neville expects such speculation to continue, with a highly-rated Argentine an option that will remain in contention for as long as United favour other options.
The former Red Devils defender told Premier League Today: “Three months ago Poch was the number one candidate. That’s changed now. I think Ole has overtaken Pochettino.
“I actually think if United drop off from now until the end of the season, Pochettino will be the number one candidate.
“If Solskjaer gets the job and United lose the first 10 games of next season, Pochettino will be the number one [to replace him].
“He looks like a Man United manager to me in terms of his whole philosophy.
“Pochettino over the next five years, I don’t think, will actually go away from the speculation of Man United.
“But Solskjaer has now raced ahead of the pack and is the number one candidate.”
While Pochettino would bring a proven track record in the Premier League to Old Trafford if approached this summer, Neville concedes that Solskjaer has earned enough goodwill through 19 games at the helm to make him deserving of a full-time contract.
The ex-England international added: “They have to give him the job. At this moment in time, it’s impossible not to give him the job.
“If you look at the fans, if they don’t give Solskjaer the job, I do think the fans will be really unhappy.”
Solskjaer has forced United back into contention for a top-four finish in the Premier League and through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, where they will face Barcelona.
His side are set to return to action after the international break on Saturday with a home date against Watford.