Manchester United are on the lookout for the next manager to try and replicate Sir Alex Ferguson after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s departure was finally confirmed on Sunday
Whatever Manchester United do next, it has to be a big, bold and ambitious appointment.
Big clubs need big leaders which is why Jurgen Klopp has succeeded at Liverpool, Pep Guardiola has been a sensation at Manchester City and Thomas Tuchel is thriving at Chelsea.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave United a lift when he took temporary charge, repaired some of the damage and mess left by Jose Mourinho’s divisive reign but it should only have been a short term fix.
A club the size of Manchester United should not be talking about progress, it cannot go four years without a trophy and eight years since winning the title. You cannot even begin to compare Solskjaer to Klopp, Guardiola or Tuchel.
United should demand and expect trophies every season and yet the club has been allowed to drift towards mediocrity by a manager lacking any sort of proven track record and a hierarchy lacking leaders and experience.
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The dressing room is packed with superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo, David de Gea, Paul Pogba, Harry Maguire and yet had a manager who had two spells in charge of Norwegian club Molde and was sacked by Cardiff City after taking them down.
What were his credentials? He was a club legend. Football’s ability to make ridiculous decisions with the heart rather than the head never ceases to amaze.
That was compounded by Solskjaer’s former team mates turned pundits who were happy to sing “Ole’s At The Wheel” to help get him the job – but did not want to turn on their friend. The punditry has been as weak and protective as the United board.
They reached a point in the summer where Solskjaer had improved them, they bought big with Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane and strong leadership – rather than distant ownership and an executive vice-chairman seemingly on his way out – would have made a ruthless decision on the manager to help them take the next step and win trophies. Instead, they gave Solskjaer a new contract.
Now they need a big personality, a big character and a manager of true standing. One who players listen to rather than like as a bloke… but who gives them no direction.
United keeper de Gea summed it all up with his post match interview after the Watford defeat. “We don’t know what to do with the ball,” he said. The manager’s message was not getting through.
United did not go for Antonio Conte when he was available because they wanted a manager for the long term, one to build a dynasty and the Italian, known as a born winner, went to Tottenham instead. That says much about United’s vision and ambition.
Klopp and Guardiola are the dream tickets. They are in for the long haul. Tuchel will be if he is given the chance. Those clubs went fo world class managers and coaches rather than a fairytale.
Zinedine Zidane enjoyed glorious success at Real Madrid. But is he a long haul manager? Erik Ten Haag or Mauricio Pochettino would seem better fits,
But whoever they get next, it must be a big personality who players listen to and respect.