Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now the favourite to be the next Premier League manager to lose his job after presiding over a dismal run of results. The Red Devils have slipped down to sixth in the standings after taking just one point from their last three games.
His days looked numbered when Man Utd went 2-0 down against Atalanta, but a late comeback earned him a modicum of breathing room. Yet the Norwegian is still on thin ice, so who could replace him if he does face the axe?
Conte would be the dream candidate for many Man Utd fans. The man is a serial winner. He won three consecutive Serie A titles in three years at Juventus, but he also laid the groundwork for the club’s subsequent success under Massimiliano Allegri. He knows the Premier League well, having led Chelsea to the title in 2017 and then an FA Cup final victory against the Red Devils the following year.
Conte returned to Italy to take over as Inter Milan manager, and he ended Juventus’ nine-year reign as Italian champions by clinching the Scudetto last season. He left after the club ran into financial trouble, forcing Inter to sell Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi, and he has turned down several approaches since then. Conte is apparently holding out for the Man Utd job after rejecting nouveau riche Newcastle, and he could be the man to transform the club’s fortunes.
The well-worn argument goes that elite managers Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho could not win the league with Man Utd, so they should stick with Solskjaer. However, Mourinho also flopped at Tottenham, and his failure to seize the title is by no means a guarantee that Conte would follow suit. The Italian would bring intensity, strong man management and phenomenal tactical nous to the role, while his 3-5-2 formation could shake things up.
Rodgers came within a whisker of winning the Premier League title during the 2013/14 campaign. His Liverpool team blended pace, flair and steel to devastating effect, but they ultimately ran out of steam at the final hurdle. Rodgers wound up in Glasgow for his next role, and he discovered the winning touch as he led Celtic to two consecutive trebles in his two full seasons at the club. He was on course for a third treble, but he decided to return to the Premier League to take over at Leicester.
Rodgers has defied expectations during his time at the King Power Stadium. He led the Foxes to fifth place finishes in the past two seasons, despite operating on a considerably smaller budget than the clubs he is competing with. He got the better of Solskjaer during Leicester’s 4-2 victory over Man Utd last weekend, despite his team being the clear underdog in the fixed odds betting. That was Leicester’s third straight win against Man Utd, suggesting that Rodgers has Solskjaer’s number. His stock continues to rise, and it could be time for him to test himself at a bigger club once more.
The legendary Frenchman could prove to be an inspired choice if he was selected to replace Solskjaer in the Man Utd dugout. He is one of the most successful managers of his generation after leading Real Madrid to three consecutive Champions League triumphs and two league titles. He enjoyed a unique situation in the Spanish capital, as he had played for the club and then worked in a backroom capacity for six years before taking over as manager, so some fans doubt whether he could replicate his success elsewhere.
However, Zidane proved himself to be an astute tactician on multiple occasions. He outfoxed the world’s best coaches to win three straight Champions League titles, and he is the only manager in history to win all nine finals he has reached. He rarely gets the credit he deserves, and that is partly down to his insistence on deflecting praise onto his players and staff, but he is a great man manager, with the ability to unite a dressing room and instil a winning mentality – much like Carlo Ancelotti.
He has already worked very effectively with Cristiano Ronaldo, and the likes of Paul Pogba and Raphaël Varane would surely respond positively to him joining the club. The players did not enjoy playing for disciplinarians like van Gaal and Mourinho, so Zidane’s approach might be preferable. He would garner instant respect, and bring the sort of gravitas that is currently missing at Old Trafford.
PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino is also a leading contender for the Man Utd job, according to the bookmakers. The former Spurs manager was regularly linked with a move to the club during his time as a free agent, but he currently seems reasonably settled working with the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in the French capital.
Julian Nagelsmann has also been mentioned, but he is highly unlikely to leave Bayern Munich any time soon, while the likes of Luis Enrique and Erik ten Hag are long shots. One interesting leftfield choice could be Gareth Southgate. He has not earned any notable success as a club manager, but he has earned rave reviews for his management of the England team over the past few years, and he may struggle to resist the lure of Old Trafford if approached.