Tales and folklores of football are ageless, but the game in itself is a pretty transient one. All things in football, be it good or bad, are certain to end at one point, and the latest manager to have been taught the harsh realities of modern football is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
A manager getting sacked midway through the season usually means the club is in the doldrums, which Manchester United certainly are, but it will not be easy to give a binary verdict on Solskjaer’s time at the Theatre of Dreams.
He took over United as a caretaker manager, following the sacking of Jose Mourinho. That move surprised many, as United’s Champions League hero from two decades ago lacked an impressive managerial CV, one that has mentions of a few honours.
The Norwegian was supposed to return to Molde, his former club, after the 2018/19 season, but little did anyone know that the baby-faced assassin will soon win over an enormous group of frustrated fans. He became the first Manchester United manager since Sir Matt Busby to win all of his first five league games.
Every voice in Old Trafford signing ‘Ole at the wheel’ in unison, the team pulling off one fantastic victory after another and the Red Devils catching up with the league leaders – everything was going ever so fine, until it did not anymore.
With only four points from a possible 18 before the international break, Solskjaer would have been relieved of his duties two weeks ago, had United’s board not been lenient. However, a 4-1 humiliation against Watford was the final nail in his coffin. With the Solskjaer era a thing of the past now and Michael Carrick acting as the interim boss, United will now go on a manager hunt.
Let us have a look at who could be the right manager for Manchester United:
1. Zinedine Zidane
Irrespective of how many managers United are in contact with, Zinedine Zidane should be number one on the speed dial. For reasons more than one, the Frenchman seems to be the perfect candidate to replace Solskjaer.
Firstly, he has proven his class in European football. In only two stints with Real Madrid, he won eleven trophies, which included a hat-trick of Champions League triumphs. To add to that, he is also without a job at the moment, which will save United from the hassle of going into a war with another club.
2. Mauricio Pochettino
With his extraordinary portfolio, Zidane is always likely to be wanted by top teams. However, according to some reports, the former World Cup winner is not too thrilled at the possible scenario of settling down in Manchester.
In such a scenario, the Red Devils can turn their attention to Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine tactician is currently working at Paris Saint-Germain, but his job might be on the line if he fails to win the Champions League for the French giants. Some reports also suggest that Zidane could be a target for PSG, which leads to a massive managerial concertina effect, more of which will be clear in the next mention.
3. Laurent Blanc
If Zidane shows no interest in joining United and the management finalises terms with Pochettino for next season, they might bring in Laurent Blanc as an interim manager. Another Frenchman, Blanc might be managing a team in Qatar now, but has won countless titles with PSG.
He, in fact, was in contention for the caretaker spell after Mourinho’s sacking, but Solskjaer eventually got the job. Like the departing manager, he too is a former Manchester United player and will know the DNA of the club.
4. Brendan Rodgers
Blanc and Zidane have done well with their respective former clubs, but have never managed in England. Pochettino has managed in England, but he has never got his hands on an English trophy.
This is where Brendan Rodgers sets himself apart from the pack. Most of his managerial career has been in England, while he also has won the FA Cup and the FA Community Shield with Leicester City. If United’s management keeps English football experience as a prerequisite, there are not many managers who will be a better option than Rodgers.
5. Erik ten Hag
Erik ten Hag might not be among the first few names in United’s shortlist, but he is bound to be there or thereabouts, thanks to the incredible work he is doing at Ajax. The Dutch manager has won two Eredivisie titles and as many KNVB Cup honours, while he also took his team to the semi-final of the Champions League not long back. The 51-year-old has often stated how happy he is at Ajax, but past instances show that when United comes calling, not many can say no.
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