TOP CONTENDERS TO REPLACE OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER AT MANCHESTER UNITED
For almost three years, Manchester United have trundled on under the stewardship of club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. While progress has surely been made, the general consensus has always been that United are only a couple of poor results away from being in trouble. Consecutive heavy defeats against Leicester and Liverpool have plunged United into crisis mode. While Saturdays victory over Spurs may have eased the pressure on Ole, a bad result against Manchester City next week, would put him back under unimaginable scrutiny. As a result, the time is right to examine the potential candidates to replace Solskjaer should he find himself out of a job.
A self-assured, confident and ambitious manager, the Leicester bosses name always seems to get mentioned when a big job becomes available. With a decent CV, Rodgers brings with him a style of play that has been well honed over many years. Having managed two of the biggest clubs in the world, Liverpool and Celtic, the Northern Irishman is no stranger to the pressures that the Manchester United manager will face. Having left a club in the middle of the season before, Rodgers’ name is sure to be high on the shortlist of the United board.
Rodgers’ history with United’s arch rivals Liverpool, ensures that he wont be the most popular appointment among fans. Additionally, his comments after the 4-2 victory over United, in which he essentially said that United’s midfield can’t press, will have done little to endear himself to the board or the players.
Perhaps surprisingly, Potter is considered to be an outside contender for the job. The leaks coming from the United camp in the last week or so, suggest that the club’s hierarchy may well take a more long-term view of the team, by appointing Potter as manager. Potter has built a really good side at Brighton since taking over from Chris Hughton, with the seagulls flying high in the premier league this season.
Potter’s similarities with the incumbent United boss may stand against him. Potter’s lack of experience managing a top club, coupled with the fact he has not won a major trophy as manager, will likely result in him not getting the job. Like Solskjaer, Potter is seen more as a project manager, not one that will come in and provide a quick fix. With the squad assembled by the Glazers, it’s likely the board will be looking for instant success, something which Potter can’t guarantee.
A couple of years ago, Pochettino’s name would have been the top of every article such as this one. During his time at Spurs, in which he transformed them into a side capable of competing for the major prizes in world football, Pochettino was considered one of the best managers in the world. During the peak period of his time at White Hart Lane, Spurs played some of the most exhilarating and attacking football in Europe.
Since the defeat to Liverpool in the Champions League final in 2019, The Argentines career has stalled. A disastrous start to the 2019/20 season, saw Pochettino out of a job before Christmas. In his current role at PSG, Pochettino finished second in Ligue 1 behind Lille and got knocked out of the Champions league in the semi-finals against Manchester City. While his achievements at Spurs garnered a lot of respect and admiration, following the two difficult years since, Pochettino’s star doesn’t shine quite at bright as it once did.
While not one of the higher profile managers on this list, plenty of signs indicate that Erik Ten-Haag could be a very successful manager at Manchester United. Ten-Haag is considered one of the sports great tacticians, benefitting from the experience he gained under Pep Guardiola’s tutelage during their time together at Bayern Munich. An expert at cultivating young players, Ten-Haag has played a key role in the development of players like Frenkie De Jong, Mattias De Ligt, Hakim Ziyech and United’s forgotten man, Donny Van De Beek. Ajax’s run to the Champions League last four in 2019, is a clear indicator that Ten Haag’s sides can operate at the highest level.
The road from the Eredivisie to the Premier League has been a tough path to travel for Dutch managers for many years. When examining the list of Dutch managers to feature in the Premier League, very few of them have done well. Ruud Gullit was sacked from Newcastle, Louis Van Gaal was replaced by Mourinho, and Frank De Boer lasted only a matter of weeks at Crystal Palace. With the exception of Ronald Koeman, who did just about okay at Southampton and Everton, the only other successful Premier League Dutch manager has been Guus Hiddink, a man who has only managed for two half seasons in the Premier League. Success in Dutch football doesn’t guarantee success in England, something which Manchester United must surely be aware of.
I know, I know, this will never happen. Moyes has already had a disastrous spell in charge of United. Lasting only eight months in the job, Moyes never even completed a full season at Old Trafford.
But imagine just for a moment, that Moyes had never managed United. Then ask yourself the question, who is the best British manager in the Premier League? The answer you’ll arrive at is yes, you guessed it, David Moyes.
The job Moyes has done since arriving in east London has been nothing short of incredible. Taking over from Manuel Pellegrini’s disastrous spell in charge, Moyes somehow saved West Ham from the drop. Excellent work on the training ground coupled with astute signings in the transfer market, Moyes has taken West Ham from relegation battlers to genuine top four contenders. The brilliant start that the Hammer’s have made in the Europa League, suggest the future is bright for the West Ham faithful. While Moyes is never going to be the Manchester United manager again, based on current ability, it’s hard to argue that he shouldn’t be a contender.
The frontrunner for the job. The Italian is a born winner and has brought success everywhere he has gone. Conte began the recent Juventus Serie A winning dynasty, laid the groundwork that turned Italy from a shambolic side to Euro 2020 winners, won the league at Chelsea in his first season and ended Juventus’ dominance, which he started, at Inter.
Conte likes to see his side play high tempo, pressing football, something which Cristiano Ronaldo is not exactly renowned for. Conte’s explosive personality means its hard to imagine a scenario in which Ronaldo and Conte don’t fall out. Furthermore, Conte has never exactly enjoyed the best of relationships with his employers. This is the reason why his tenures at both Juventus and Chelsea ended so abruptly.
Perhaps the most damning criticism of Conte is that he is the suggestion that he is the reincarnation of Jose Mourinho. While not exactly a defensive minded coach, Conte’s sides never played the level of attacking football that the likes of Liverpool or Man City play. Having been subjected to some truly dour displays under Mourinho, United’s board and fans alike will understandably be hesitant at this prospect.
Under Conte, United would no longer be disorganized. Conte’s meticulous planning and training sessions would turn United into a far more cohesive unit. The Chelsea squad that he won the league with, boasting stars like Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso, is far inferior to the current United squad. Having won a league with Manchester United cast offs Romelu Lukaku, Ashley Young and Alexis Sanchez at Inter, there is no doubt that Conte could finally bring the glory days back to United.