Manchester United are possibly the most famous soccer team of all time. They are historic and have won everything that is out there to win. With this in mind, there is no surprise that the team has a certain standard that must be upkept. Ultimately the responsibility of leading the team to success will be placed on the manager. The manager’s job is always difficult no matter which club they’re at, seeing as how they are in the center spotlight. So if a team is performing poorly, eyes will all turn towards the manager. This is why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job security is very insecure, at this moment in time. United have been in abysmal form, and many are finally starting to wonder if perhaps it’s time for change?
Something that has always been up for debate ever since Ole took the job in the first place, is his credentials. It would be fair to say that compared to rival managers at clubs of a similar level, Ole is the least experienced by far. Look at City and Pep Guardiola, Liverpool and Klopp, Chelsea and Tuchel; here we have 3 elite managers, running 3 elite clubs. Guardiola, Klopp and Tuchel have all won league titles in tough leagues (Bundesliga, La Liga and Ligue 1), whereas Ole’s title winning has only occurred in the Norwegian Tippeligaen league; which clearly isn’t at the same level. Where the other three have managed Barcelona (Pep), Dortmund (Klopp & Tuchel) and PSG (Tuchel), they are already familiar with the standards required at an elite club. Ole may have the United ‘DNA’, but is this enough?
Well, you have to give Ole credit for the clear progression that United have gone through since his arrival. Having taken over from Mourinho in December 2018, Ole steadied the ship and brought a winning feeling back to United. What began with a 5-1 demolishing of Cardiff went on to be an 11-game unbeaten run (which included a magical Champions League win against PSG). In his first full season in charge, Ole achieved a third place finish. This is significant progress, United were back in the Champions League, where they belong. The following season even saw a 2nd place finish; again, significant progression. Losing a European final on penalties didn’t help Ole’s case, as at the end of the day we only remember the wins, rather than the ‘almosts’. Nevertheless, United started this season looking to progress further: Mounting a full title charge. So with this in mind, United have already started slipping and currently sit in 7th place. If Ole is not replaced now, will this hinder United’s chances of success this season?
You have to say, where Mourinho wasn’t backed in the transfer market, Ole certainly has been. Ole has underseen some big signings at United, such as Bruno Fernandes who has debatably carried this team to the levels it has reached. This also includes £80 Million signing and current captain, Harry Maguire, but also this seasons mega-signings in Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. So you have to say, United certainly have a world-class side, with top quality; so what’s the excuse for the recent failings? The season started so well, but it has been five league games since United last registered a win. Unfortunately, two Champions League games where Ronaldo came to the rescue might not be enough to save Ole this time. With some tough fixtures coming up against Spurs, Atalanta, Man City, Villarreal, Chelsea and Arsenal; it is fair to assume that if change doesn’t happen now, those games will certainly end in disaster and ruin what is still a salvageable season.
Ultimately, if Ole is going to be fired, it can only be if a suitable replacement is available. This means it must be an elite manager, so who are the options? Well it only really leaves Antonio Conte and Zinedine Zidane. We will also throw Erik Ten Haag in as a long shot. It is rumored that Zidane has no interest in managing in the Premier League, so it really only leaves Conte as the available option. The man has good standing, having lead Inter to the title last season. However, he has a very defensive 5-at-the-back approach, which is thought to undermine United’s attacking philosophy. Zidane fits the bill tactics wise, but with a lack of interest might not want to come. Ten Haag is very suitable, but is also midway a season with Ajax, and may not want to leave a side doing so well. So really, there aren’t too many great options right now, which may give Ole just enough time to try and rectify the situation. By then however, it may already be too late.