For us, United fans, the last couple of days have been a very humbling experience. A 5-0 defeat against Liverpool wasn’t just the darkest day in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s managerial career, but also the worst day that United have experienced in the Premier League outright. Of course, the 6-1 defeat against Manchester City and last season’s hammering against Tottenham also rank high, but the defeat against the Reds at the Theatre of Dreams was worse.
Liverpool weren’t even in third gear for much of the game, as United made their own problems. The blame was immediately placed on the doorstep of Solskjaer, but the club face a critical couple of weeks when it comes to the next steps that are made.
If, Not When Ole Goes
There were moments during the last days of Jose Mourinho and David Moyes’ reigns at Old Trafford that the fans really knew their time was up. Mourinho’s was that game at Old Trafford against Sevilla in the Champions League, while the battering at Anfield was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
For Moyes, it was a hammering at the hands of Everton at Goodison. There is very much a sense that Sunday’s defeat against Liverpool was that same moment for Solskjaer. Fans, to their credit, stuck by the manager, and the majority of the fan base, me included, still wants to see Ole do well.
However, it seems to have got to a point now that Solskjaer has hit a brick wall, and he is unable to take the club any further. There is no denying that with the squad United have, they should at least be challenging, but defensive issues look set to plague the final weeks of his reign.
Reports have indicated that he has until the international break to save his jobs, but evens wins against Spurs, Atalanta and City are unlikely to save his job.
But, it’s important to remember the good job that he has done for United. He has re-introduced entertaining football that was long missing during the days of Mourinho, Moyes and Louis van Gaal.
Meanwhile, the camp isn’t anywhere near as toxic as it was during Jose’s final days. However, a strong argument can certainly be made that he was the perfect man at the perfect time during the weird COVID period of the Premier League last season.
Next Appointment Critical
United have come so far since the Mourinho departure that the board should be against getting in a manager that could be a ‘quick-fix’. Of course, Jose delivered the Europa League and League Cup during his stay, but both of those trophies would have rated very low on the desired silverware list that fans would have had when the Portuguese arrived. The Red Devils now find themselves at a very similar crossroads, with the huge name favored for the job being Antonio Conte.
There is no denying that the Italian is an outstanding manager and has won trophies everywhere he goes. However, his similarities to Jose are uncanny.
He leaves a mess wherever he leaves; just look at Chelsea, who have only just got back to the level that they want to be following Conte’s departure. His 3-5-2 formation is also a clear drawback, as United’s fine crop of attacking wide players with either be overlooked or forced to play in a wing-back position.
With the talent in the United squad, Conte is far from the ideal fit. Brendan Rodgers is a manager that the Red Devils should be looking at, as he will almost immediately improve every player in the squad, while also ensuring that all the work that Solskjaer has done previously isn’t forgotten. Mauricio Pochettino could also be an interesting contender, as the hierarchy at United remain very interested in the PSG manager.
But, whatever happens next, it’s important to remember that Solskjaer has done a good job at the club and also outlasted many that believed he wouldn’t last a year. While the trophies haven’t followed, the perfect squad has now been put together to take United to the next level.