After a mixed start to the season, Solskjaer is among the favourites to be sacked with Premier League rivals and European masters tipped to succeed him
The Manchester United next manager merry-go-round is accepting tickets once again as pressure mounts on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following their exit from the Champions League.
Rarely has a United side run so hot and cold as this one in the post-1992 era. Whether it be losing to Crystal Palace, Tottenham and Arsenal in the league, a run of baffling results in Europe, or miserably wading through the transfer window unable to sign their key targets – the circus at Old Trafford just rumbles on.
Following their 3-2 defeat to RB Leipzig, which will send the club back to the Europa League in the new year, calls for Solskjaer’s head are likely to increase.
Here, i looks at the most likely candidates for Solskjaer’s job and assesses who would best fit into the role.
Mauricio Pochettino – 4-9f
The clear favourite for the United job is Mauricio Pochettino. Some would argue he should have been appointed back in the summer of 2019 when Solskjaer’s tenure as temporary manager was coming to a close. But Tottenham dug in to keep their man – only to sack him a year later – and United went on to endure nearly two seasons with the Norwegian in charge, during which time they spent £228m net on players and finished sixth then third in the top flight.
If Solskjaer is axed in his second full campaign then Pochettino’s appointment makes sense. He is out of work and understood to want the job, having missed out on a big role in Spain over the past 12 months. The only issue is he still has a contract at Spurs until the summer of 2023, meaning United will have to agree to have that cancelled before landing the Argentine.
What’s more, Pochettino may also be keeping tabs on what’s happening at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Spanish giants Real Madrid having a season just as torrid as United’s.
Max Allegri – 4-1
If United want a manager capable of creating a mini dynasty then Massimiliano Allegri may be their best option. The Italian held the fort at Juventus for five years until leaving in 2019 – having won every Serie A title available to him but crucially being unable to clinch the Champions League.
If Europe is a black spot on Allegri’s record book then perhaps United shouldn’t worry too much. The remit right now is to catch Liverpool and City in the Premier League. Bettering Solskjaer and reaching the Champions League knockout stages will be a requirement but winning the competition is unlikely to be on Allegri’s – or any other manager’s – immediate list of priorities.
Allegri has plenty of sway in world football and that could certainly help United in the transfer market – an area they’ve been lacking in for years. What’s more, the 53-year-old is taking English lessons and recently admitted he is open to a move to the Premier League.
Ralph Hasenhuttl – 18-1
It wasn’t so long ago that Ralph Hasenhuttlwas holding back the tears after his Southampton side lost 9-0 to Leicester in the Premier League. Since then he has installed a genuine team spirit in the Saints squad, which culminated in an 11th-placed finish last term.
Southampton have kicked on this season and sit fourth in the Premier League. Danny Ings and co are scoring for fun and they appear undaunted by any opposition in the top flight.
Yes, Hasenhuttl would be a left-field call but the 53-year-old was instrumental in hauling RB Leipzig to the competitive half of the Bundesliga before he moved to St Mary’s. His personal approach may better suit United’s image and, if Ed Woodward is looking for a man to nurture upcoming talent then Hasenhuttl looks a good candidate.
Thomas Tuchel – 33-1
Having once been touted as the next Manchester United manager, Thomas Tuchel’s stock has surpassed the Old Trafford club. Now in charge of PSG, the former Dortmund boss was 90 minutes from delivering what the Paris club’s owners are desperate to achieve – a Champions League crown – in the summer.
Tuchel was denied European football’s ultimate trophy by his old enemy Bayern Munich back in August. And the 47-year-old is set to give the Champions League another shot this year. But is Tuchel content with cruising to the Ligue 1 title – PSG are already two points clear in the table – and waiting for the spring to learn his fate in Europe?
The United job would certainly interest him but there appears little likelihood Tuchel will be prised out of Paris until the end of the season. Whether United hold on to Solskjaer until then remains to be seen.
Julian Nagelsmann – 12-1
Having witnessed his RB Leipzig side receive a stuffing at the hands of Solskjaer’s United in late October, it would have been easy to believe that Julian Nagelsmann was out of the running for this job. But one game does not make a manager and the young German has proven his credentials again by overcoming a poor start to the season to progress to the Champions League knockout stages.
Nagelsmann is certainly an interesting prospect. At 33 he is one of the youngest managers in Europe and has impressed at Leipzig – although as yet they have not won any silverware under his stewardship. This could concern United, who are desperate to return to the top of the English pile.
Of course, appointing Nagelsmann would lead to hopes of United creating another Ferguson-like dynasty. The German certainly has age on his side for that but gone are the days when top-flight clubs stick by their manager through thick and thin. The flack Nagelsmann would receive if United hit the buffers during the early months of his tenure would be fierce – and further bad PR could affect the share price that the Glazers, United’s American owners, care about above all else.