Wayne Rooney calls on Manchester United to appoint Mauricio Pochettino as their next manager

Wayne Rooney has urged Manchester United to appoint Mauricio Pochettino as their next manager and offload Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba as part of a complete rebuild of the club.

United are expected to conduct a final round of interviews with Erik ten Hag and Pochettino before deciding who to install as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s permanent successor. Rooney, the former United captain, believes his old club would be better off going for Pochettino over the Ajax coach given the Paris Saint-Germain and former Tottenham Hotspur manager’s Premier League experience.

And he believes United should cut their losses on Pogba and Ronaldo and focus on signing young, hungry players who could put the club back into a position to challenge for the Premier League title in two or three years’ time.

“I think Pochettino has done it in the Premier League,” Rooney told Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football. “He knows the Premier League. At Tottenham and Southampton he brought a lot of young players through.

“If I’m choosing from one of them two [Pochettino and Ten Hag] that’s who I’d choose, I’d go with Pochettino and give him time. I think for managers now they need time to put their blueprint on the club and the team and if you give him time I think he’ll do well.

“There hasn’t been a settled manager there since Sir Alex Ferguson so I think whoever comes in they need to give them time and time to build up relationships with players.

“I get that [Solskjaer had three years] but I think they were going through a transition period and it didn’t work, I think that’s obvious it didn’t work with Ole in the end and I don’t think it’s worked with the new [interim] manager [Ralf Rangnick] now who has come in.

“Pochettino in my opinion is a top manager. He knows how to work with top class players but also with young players and they need to get that blend right because they can’t afford to fail again.”

Pogba is out of contract at the end of the season, having failed to live up to expectations since his club-record £89 million return to Old Trafford in 2016, and Ronaldo’s much trumpeted return to the club last summer has also been a disappointment.

Ronaldo, 37, is thought to want to see out the final year of his contract at Old Trafford but Rooney – the current Derby County manager – believes United should move on both of his former team-mates as part of a decisive cull.

“I think it’s probably got to a point now where it is better for him [Pogba] to move and I think if Paul is honest with himself he’s probably not had the impact he’d have liked since he returned to Manchester United,” Rooney said.

“I watch him play for France and it’s a completely different player. The ability, his vision of him, control of the game is there every game for France but it just hasn’t quite worked for him at Manchester United and there are a few players they need to let go.

Asked if he felt the Ronaldo transfer had worked, Rooney added: “I’d say no at the minute. He’s scored goals, he’s scored important goals in the Champions League early on, he scored the hat-trick against Tottenham [last month] but I think if you’re looking to the future of the club I think you have to go with younger, hungry players to do the best to lift Manchester United over these next two to three years.

“Obviously Cristiano is getting on a bit. He’s certainly obviously not the player he was in his 20s and that happens, that’s football. He’s a goal threat but the rest of the game, they need more and they need young, hungry players.”

United will finish the season without a trophy for the fifth consecutive year and face an uphill struggle to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Rooney thinks United would end the season now if they could given how disappointing the campaign has been and believes it could be two to three years before the club are in a position to challenge for the title again.

“I think they’d want the season to stop now if it could and forget about Champions League because they’re not going to compete next year if they qualify for it,” he said.

“I think they have to rebuild the squad, rebuild everything around the first team, around the club to make sure they put themselves in a position for two or three years’ time that they can actually challenge again for the Premier League.”

Rooney says United are unable to respond to setbacks in matches. Asked how he would describe their campaign, he said: “Strange. I’ve been to a few of the games, I’ve been to watch them live and it looks like a team of individuals. It always seems when they make a mistake it’s very difficult for them to recover as a team.

“I can look at it and say it hasn’t been good enough because with that group of players they have to be performing better. They’re going through a tough time as a club and I think what everyone wants is to get the manager situation sorted as soon as possible and they have to rebuild for the next two or three years to try and make sure they’re challenging again .”

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