Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær could once again be facing the pressure of having his job on the line at Old Trafford as the Norwegian headmaster prepares to enter a critical stage in the first-half of the 2021-22 season.
United currently sit two points behind table-topping Chelsea and joint-third with rivals Manchester City, Everton, and Brighton on 14-points. The Red Devils went into the international break on the back of two disappointing results however, with a home loss against Aston Villa followed by another disappointing Old Trafford result; a 1-1 draw against Everton.
Despite United improving in the Premier League table year-on-year under Solskjær which culminated in a runner-up finish last term behind champions Man City, the club have yet to net a single piece of silverware under the former Red Devils striker.
Solskjær received plenty of backing in the transfer market as well since he took over for José Mourinho in December of 2018, with United dropping a cool £390million (before sales) on player recruitment in a list that includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho, Raphaël Varane, Harry Maguire, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Truthfully, the bell tolling on his time at United would be justifiably fair if the club failed to break their trophy drought after the backing the former Molde FK manager has received.
Should he be sacked, a club with the stature that United possesses would unquestionably expect and demand a manager with gravitas and a CV laden with success. With that in mind, here are five managers that Manchester United could replace Ole Gunnar Solskjær with.
One of the obvious names to be on the list, Antonio Conte is fresh off winning Serie A with Inter Milan before parting ways with the Serie A outfit in the summer.
His track record is certainly good enough for United, with a Premier League win while on the touchline at Chelsea in 2016-17 proof that he can be successful at the helm of an English club with high expectations. His triple Scudetto success with Juventus between 2011 and 2014 doesn’t hurt either.
But Conte’s work at Inter is probably his most impressive and received enormous praise for the achievement. Despite recent reports linking him with the Newcastle job in the wake of the clubs takeover, United would do well to target the former Italian international should they be in the hunt for a new headmaster.
Another former player and manager of a big club out of work, French legend Zinedine Zidane is just as assured to levy interest from United as Conte is should a vacancy emerge at Old Trafford.
Zidane’s record of achievement in his two separate stints at the Santiago Bernabeu is laudable indeed; a 66% win percentage in 263-matches across all competitions for Los Blancos is impressive enough, but his eleven trophies won during his time in the Spanish capital – which includes a trio of Champions League wins – is precisely what United could be looking for.
The Frenchman also has ample experience managing Cristiano Ronaldo, and despite only being on the touchline for one top level club after he graduated from being the manager at Real Madrid Castilla, his CV speaks for itself.
It is hard to judge if Erik ten Hag will truly make the grade at a top club. There is no denying the high level of success that the Haaksbergen-native has achieved at Ajax Amsterdam since taking up his position on the touchline at the Amsterdam Arena in December 2017 after cutting his teeth with FC Utrecht.
Ten Hag has bagged two Eredivisie titles as well as two KNVB Cup’s and a Johan Cruijff Schaal while boasting a 73% win percentage with the Dutch giants, who he guided to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019 for the first time since 1997.
But it is hard to gauge if being successful with Ajax means a manager can hack it at a much bigger club in a far more competitive league than the Eredivisie. Ajax is unquestionably the biggest club in the Netherlands and are at the bare minimum expected to win the league on a yearly basis, and are still pushed to their limits by bitter rivals PSV Eindhoven while utterly decimating the rest of the league, evidenced by Ten Hag’s +329 goal difference. He would certainly be keen on a move to United, with the Dutchman recently claiming that only an exceptional offer would tempt him out of Amsterdam.
There is no indication that United would necessarily turn to a domestic option for their next manager, but if they do, Brendan Rodgers could find his way into the short list.
It is worth mentioning that the Northern Irishman has won more silverware with Leicester City than Solskjær has during his Old Trafford tenure, with the Foxes lifting their first-ever FA Cup last season and following it up with a Community Shield win against Manchester City in the annual curtain raiser to the domestic season.
But Rodgers has also failed to successfully net a Champions League finish with Leicester City, with the club going into free fall into the final weeks of the last two seasons and ending up finishing 5th in the Premier League rather than a coveted top-four place. Still, his success in the Leicester model commands respect, though perhaps it is not good enough to earn him another big English job after his spell at Liverpool.
The undoubted dark horse of the list, and certainly the one that most will turn their heads up – rightly or wrongly – Graham Potter could be a sneaky appointment for United if the club find itself with the need to appoint a new manager.
Potter was massively successful in Sweden and truly put Östersunds FK on the Swedish footballing map, but many turn to his time at Swansea City and current charge Brighton as reasons to overlook him. His win percentage is quite low with the Seagulls (29.8%), but he still has the south coast outfit playing very good football and on a budget that is a fraction of what United can bring to bear.
The fact that Brighton currently sit level with the Red Devils in the Premier League table is no fluke either, after the data behind the club last season showed numbers commanded a league finish far higher than they actually earned. His acquisition could also come with a move for Yves Bissouma, but lets not get too far ahead of ourselves.