Sunday 24th October was one of the most outrageous days in Manchester United’s recent history. Packed Old Trafford witnessed their beloved Red Devils being humiliated 0-5 against their worst arch-rival Liverpool.
Numbers of fans had enough early after Liverpool smashed to 4-0 before halftime. Angry and frustrated United-fans were pictured leaving the stands at the break.
The disastrous result left the Man United -manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in a red hot situation. Performance raised questions, if the Norwegian is the right man to bring the Red Devils back to top of the world.
“We are at rock bottom. I can’t say now I’ve felt any worse than this. It’s the worst I’ve been, the lowest I’ve been, but I accept the responsibility”, Solskjaer said after Sunday’s loss.
Solskjaer’s situation is very similar to the point where Frank Lampard was with Chelsea a year ago. Both of the men have enjoyed reputation from their respective player careers, which makes their sacking harder.
Lampard was eventually replaced by Thomas Tuchel, who won them a Champions League the same season.
Solskjaer played a supersub-role under Sir Alex Ferguson helping United win multiple championships, cup wins, and Champions League. The Norwegian also benefits from the failures of his predecessors, who didn’t survive over two seasons.
If Solskjaer is decided to be sacked, United would need a world class replacement. In this column I’m looking for potential candidates to be the next Red Devils -manager.
Conte’s name has been trending on Twitter frequently after United has lost games. The Italian’s CV is impressive. He has won Serie A four times and the Premier League when managing Chelsea.
Conte is known for his ability to bring success in short notice. Since not winning the Premier League after 2013, United is desperate to hire someone, who is able to bring them instant success.
Conte’s strengths are in man management as a motivator. He is excellent at handling superstar-egos and his reputation gives him the players respect.
“When Conte speaks, his words assault you. They crash through the doors of your mind.”, Juventus-legend Andrea Pirlo described in his biography.
Conte prefers using formations with three centre halves and mobile wing-backs, like 3-5-2 or 3-4-3. Luke Shaw on the left would be natural in the role, with his ability to go forward delivering crosses. However there are doubts, is Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the right good enough in moving forward and his ball control has limits.
He has sometimes been criticised for stubbornness to change his tactics in the middle of the game. Another factor is lack of rotation. When managing Chelsea Conte had a specific line up he used roughly every game with not much room for changes.
With the depth of talent United have in every position, Conte’s ideology has risks to make some of the high profile players unhappy.
World class midfielder and a masterclass manager. Zinedine Zidane has won everything in his career anyone could dream of.
The Frenchman had a spectacular run in Real Madrid winning three consecutive Champions League titles. He’s the only manager who has won the tournament two consecutive years in its modern format.
With two La Liga titles also in the bag, Zidane’s CV looks very solid. Like Conte he’s strengths as a manager are in man management. His successive player career as a superstar has helped him understand and manage individual world class players.
Zidane favoured active 4-3-3 formation with Madrid. Two creative midfielders in the middle and one holding ball winner to break. Midfielders should be as well ready to drop down and support the defence. United’s squad lacks unfortunean effective holding ball winner.
For wingers Red Devils have many talented options from Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood to Jadon Sancho.
Solskjaer’s fate could be sealed in the next few weeks. United will play in their next two games tricky fixtures against Tottenham and Manchester City. Middle of the Premier League games is a Champions League trip to Bergamo to face Atalanta.
Bad results on these games would be enough for the Glazer family to push the sack button. If it happens Conte and Zidane would both have the reputation to fill needs of the trophy-hungry owners.