Ole’s lost the wheel
With the humiliating defeat at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job is on the line. Losing 5-0 to United’s biggest and bitter rivals, Liverpool, with no identity, no patterns of play and schoolboy tactics, Ole has lost the fans and the dressing room. However, with the boards’ incompetence and Sir Alex Ferguson backing him, Ole has got three games to turn it around. It is not going to be easy for the Norwegian as he faces Spurs in White Hart Lane, Atalanta in Italy and the Manchester Derby in the following weeks. With half the team against him, the fans losing faith in him and the pressure heavily mounting on him, can he survive? Only time will tell from now on. By pure favouritism, his relentless picking of “McFred” and not being able to form a solid lineup, Ole has dug his own grave. The only way he can honestly bounce back from this is to continuously win games with proper tactics and the inclusion of all players. After three years of not seeing him implement this, can he really do a 180 change? I doubt so. With his inevitable sacking, United has eyed new managers to take over his role. In this article, I will be discussing what each manager will bring to Manchester United and why they may be the perfect replacement as manager of the club.
Oh, what could have been. But alas, he has signed for Spurs. Nevertheless, let’s play the game of what-ifs for a moment.
Various credible sources such as Fabrizio Romano have cited that Manchester United have been looking at and seriously considering Antonio Conte as the next manager should Ole fail. Hailing from Italy, Antonio Conte is a serial winner, bringing Chelsea from 10th to the Premier League champions back in 2016/2017, winning the Serie A Title 2020/21 with Inter Milan, ending his former club, Juventus’ 10-year grip on the title and many more. Bringing in Conte would be just the right fix for United. A strong character with a winning mentality, he will boost the players’ morale and get them playing slick, confident football in a matter of weeks. What Thomas Tuchel has brought to Chelsea after sacking Frank Lampard would be exactly what Conte would bring to United. With his emotions on the touchline and his deep passion for his work, he will acclimatize himself quickly to the job, and Old Trafford could be roaring again. Players like Paul Pogba, Alex Telles, Donny Van De Beek and Diogo Dalot would be picked more often as they suit his playing style needs. Conte is not hesitant to drop players who are not performing well despite their price tags, showing he is a man who demands excellence from his players and to give it their all on the pitch, no favouritism whatsoever.
However, there could be some drawbacks to bringing in Conte. Firstly, his tactics and line-up. Conte prefers playing 3 centre-halfs with wing-backs who must work relentlessly hard up and down the pitch. Commonly he will play either a 3-4-3, or a 3-5-2. Issues arise when United have too many wingers at their disposal. Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood, Jesse Lingard and Amad Diallo could potentially be on the bench more. There could be the option of converting wingers to a wing-back like what Conte did with Victor Moses but a massive turn around could be needed with these talents. Perhaps, Conte could do to United like what he did with Chelsea. Playing a 3-4-3, he could have Rashford more upfront with Ronaldo when defending, sort of like a lop-sided 4-4-2 which is exactly what he did with Eden Hazard and Costa. Another issue with Conte is the fact that he would leave if he does not get the players he wants. He needs to have the board 100% behind him which The Glazers might not be the right suit for. He left Chelsea after the board failed to secure Lukaku and he also left Inter Milan despite winning the Serie A as the board could not get the players he wanted. My verdict? I am on the fence with Conte. I strongly believe that he is a world-class manager with a huge rapport but he may not suit United’s attacking style of play. United has always used wingers with fast attacking play. Not to say that Conte plays negative football, rather to say that it would be new to many to see a 3-5-2 deployed rather than a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. Still, if Antonio Conte does become United’s next manager, I would dare say United will be a threat and a force not to be reckoned with.
Zinedine Zidane, the French manager has an amazing CV. Winning two La Liga titles and three back to back Champions League’s cups, many look at him as the next potential United manager. His dynamic fast attacking football suits United perfectly. Playing mostly a 4-3-3, this would suit United’s current system well. Wingers like Sancho and Rashford will widely benefit from his coaching and tactics. Players like Paul Pogba will also most likely be staying if Zidane is the manager since he was his idol. Zidane has also worked with players like Varane and Ronaldo before, which would help him get a better hold of the dressing room. He has also managed many big star players and a huge ‘Galatico’ club in Real Madrid. However, there could be some arrays that need to be solved. He does not speak English, or at least, not very well, which could be hard for communications across the board to the dressing room despite having a translator. Another issue could be that he has only had a short managerial experience with only coaching Real Madrid, as compared to Tuchel, Klopp and Guardiola. Those arguments are heavily rebutted with the fact that he has won 11 trophies including the famous Champions League three-peat, a feat that has never been achieved before in the history of the competition. My verdict? Yes, I would absolutely love to see Zidane at Manchester United. I strongly believe that he has what it takes to come over and build a strong squad that could see United competing at the very best in all competitions. Despite not having a long list of managerial careers, his great man-management skills along with his tactical masterclasses could be exactly what United needs at this moment.
Erik Ten Hag
I’ll come out and say it, Erik Ten Hag, for me, would be my dream manager for Manchester United. Even though sources show that he may not be considered as United’s next manager, we could still see what he brings to Manchester United. To me, Erik Ten Hag is a world-class manager in the making, sort of like what Jurgen Klopp was in Borussia Dortmund before he went to Liverpool. Currently the manager at Ajax, he has won two Eredivisie titles as well as reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League back in 2019. His preferred formation suits Manchester United perfectly, playing a 4-2-3-1 system, where the no.10 acts more of a box to box while the wingers play more forward. Employing a vertical tiki-taka playstyle, his team often push up to the final third, playing risky passes rather than recycling possession. His managerial philosophy alongside his tactics could see him flourish in United and bring him to the world-class levels of Guardiola and the rest. Though he may not be a world-class manager as of now, by employing him as United’s manager, we could see him become one. It may be a hurdle for Manchester United to get him with the fact that it is mid-season and Ten Hag is still currently in charge of Ajax, but if somehow the board could do it, they 100% should.
Where to go from here?
With Manchester United looking more lost than ever, there is a strong need to change things around and what the club needs is a new professional management team who will help elevate back to where this club should be. Solskjaer has already made massive improvements to this club by improving the squad from what Mourinho had and clearing the toxicity in the club. Bringing in leaders like Bruno Fernandes, Raphael Varane and young attacking talents like Jadon Sancho, Ole will be leaving behind a team that has what it takes to go on and win trophies. Despite his failure as a manager, his legacy will never be tarnished as the player who scored the winning goal in the dramatic 1999 Champions League final.
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