Manchester United win (and lose) ‘El Sackico’
Much was made about the importance of Manchester United’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur, dubbed on social media as El Sackico, on Saturday night.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reportedly had three games to save his job, while Nuno’s Tottenham were struggling to show anything in an attacking sense under their new coach.
On the pitch, it was the Red Devils who ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over a hapless Spurs, who offered little. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s change to a back 5, although surely only temporary given the squad at his disposal, was good enough to win a one-off game, and in turn enough to keep him in his job.
For Nuno, the atmosphere in the Tottenham Hotspur stadium reached breaking point, with boos audible at several points during the second half, including when Lucas Moura was substituted in favour of Steven Bergwijn.
And as a result, it was no surprise to see him sacked on Monday morning, with Antonio Conte widely expected to replace the Portuguese boss in the Spurs dugout in the coming days.
Antonio Conte is ready to accept Tottenham proposal. Talks underway and understood to be ‘at final stages’ – salary and long term contract discussed but he seems convinced to say ‘yes’. ⚪️🇮🇹 #THFC
Negotiations to continue in the next few hours in order to complete the agreement. pic.twitter.com/quih3onc7z
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 1, 2021
Despite winning, Manchester United have now taken their no.1 replacement for Solskjaer off the table in doing so, and with the clear lack of longevity in the system that the Red Devils operated in on Saturday, it seems unlikely that the club legend will get them back to where they want to be this season. Even in victory, it feels as though they have lost.
But who could they target instead? 101 takes a look at four managers that could be available should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revert to type in the near future.
First on the list is a man that has been linked to vacancies at both Tottenham and Newcastle United in the past few months, in the form of former Roma boss Paulo Fonseca. Relieved of his duties in the Italian capital last May, Fonseca has been out of work since, and would surely welcome a return to management.
The Spaniard has previously worked with Fred (at Shakhtar Donetsk) and is well adjusted to playing in a 4-2-3-1 system, which Manchester United’s squad are seemingly well suited to.
The problem that the Red Devils would likely run into should they pursue Fonseca is the same that would face them with many managers of the modern era, the preference for a high press. As has been seen so far this season, Cristiano Ronaldo is not the best man for the job in that regard, but by virtue of his profile and ability it is hard to drop him.
This would leave any manager having to negotiate a change of tactical philosophy, with perhaps a more leisurely press.
But, on credentials alone, he would certainly be a better option than Solskjaer.
The most heavily linked, and biggest name on this list, is former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, currently in charge of Paris Saint Germain.
👀 Mauricio Pochettino has been cut to as short as 3/1 favourite to be the next Manchester United manager.
— oddschecker (@oddschecker) November 1, 2021
Poch ticks a lot of boxes: he played attractive Premier League football (for the most part) with Tottenham, using a 4-2-3-1 system, the Red Devil’s seemingly best option. At PSG too, he is dealing well with a dressing room full of egos including Lionel Messi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Sergio Ramos. The likes of Ronaldo and Varane should not be a problem therefore.
Of course, the major sticking point for this move is that Pochettino is currently employed in Paris, and his job does not seem under threat given that PSG have lost just once in the league so far this season. How much would it cost United to prise him out of Paris, and would he want to downgrade from his best shot at winning the Champions League?
A wildcard perhaps, but an accomplished one. Lucien Favre is another manager out of work, having been sacked by Borussia Dortmund in December 2020 after a poor run of results. However, he is a man that prioritises attacking football, and is a skilled tactician, an area in which Solskjaer still has plenty of room to improve.
He does offer an exciting style of football, and could well help to get the best out of a currently struggling Jadon Sancho, having worked with him to great effect at Borussia Dortmund. With top-level experience, an exciting brand of football, and likely able to work with the current squad without too many additions, United could certainly do worse than Favre.
Last but not least, and probably the most unlikely option on this list, is Brendan Rodgers. The Leicester boss has done brilliantly with the Foxes across the past two seasons, guiding them to back-to-back fifth-placed finishes, as well as bringing a first FA Cup to the club.
A shrewd operator, Rodgers can bring some fresh blood to the northwest, while he has already proven that he can operate on low budgets.
— Man United News (@ManUtdMEN) October 31, 2021
It is easy to see Cristiano Ronaldo moulded into the Jamie Vardy role, albeit perhaps less aggressive in the press, although a new central midfielder would surely be on the agenda.
Quizzed on taking up the role on Friday, Rodgers would not be drawn, saying:
“I don’t even think about it – and that’s the brutal honesty. I’m sure the supporters are probably tired of it. At Leicester, there is always a link.
“My focus is always here with Leicester and developing the football club on to that next level, where you’re competing for European football and challenging for honours.”
Meanwhile, there are arguments that go against him: He has not had to manage the sort of dressing room that he would encounter at Old Trafford, while he is also a former Liverpool manager, which would not stand him in good stead amongst the Red Devil fanbase.
But, is he an upgrade on Solskjaer?
It seems as though Manchester United have missed the opportunity to get in the most qualified man for the job, but there are certainly alternatives that could prove more successful than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
This article was edited by Josh Barker.
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|Vardy, Jamie||Leicester City||9|
|Antonio, Michail||West Ham United||8|
|Dennis, Emmanuel||Watford FC||8|
|Ronaldo, Cristiano||Manchester United||8|
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|Mane, Sadio||Liverpool FC||8|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United||7|
|Mount, Mason||Chelsea FC||7|
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|Bowen, Jarrod||West Ham United||6|
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|Skipp, Oliver||Tottenham Hotspur||0||6|
|Antonio, Michail||West Ham United||0||4|
|James, Reece||Chelsea FC||1||4|
|Silva, Bernardo||Manchester City||0||5|
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|Cancelo, Joao||Manchester City||6|
|Robertson, Andy||Liverpool FC||6|
|Antonio, Michail||West Ham United||5|
|Dennis, Emmanuel||Watford FC||5|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United||5|
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