Manchester United Have Problems Replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Might Not Be So Easy

Discussion has already started over who might replace Solskjaer who has reportedly been given the next three matches to prove that he should remain in his position at Old Trafford. 

Antonio Conte has been mentioned as a potential candidate with Zinedine Zidane, Graham Potter and Erik Ten Hag also put forward as possible Manchester United managers of the future.

Having just watched Manchester United suffer their heaviest home defeat to Liverpool of the Premier League PINC -0.2% era, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had the look of a man who knew deep down that patience had all but run dry.

Given three years to build his team, it’s now common belief that United must now hand that team to someone other than the Norwegian.

It is certainly true that the Old Trafford outfit boast the talent to challenge for major honours, but there is an imbalance to their squad that will make it difficult for any manager to mould a winning team. Whoever replaces Solskjaer, when the time ultimately comes, will have some tricky decisions to make.

Conte wouldn’t stand for this lack of pressing from the front, but would the former Chelsea and Inter boss be able to drop Manchester United’s highest-paid player? How would that affect the dressing room environment? Would Ronaldo be willing to accept a role as an impact substitute off the bench?

Then there’s role of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba. While the pair are clearly the best two midfielders Manchester United have, Solskjaer has struggled to fit both into the same team. Pogba has been deployed on the left wing a number of times, with some success, but this subsequently limits opportunities for Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jadon Sancho.

Manchester United’s squad is strongest in the wide forward ranks, but Conte doesn’t even play wide forwards. Instead, the Italian coach looks to his wing backs for width. Luke Shaw would be able to play in this way, but there is no obvious option to play on the right side currently at Old Trafford.

The biggest, most obvious deficiency in Manchester United’s squad can be found at the base of their midfield. Solskjaer has attempted to hide this through the use of Fred and Scott McTominay with Nemanja Matic also deployed in a series of matches, but Conte, or whoever takes over, would surely face the same issue when trying to find structure.

None of this is to say Solskjaer’s replacement wouldn’t be able to achieve success. Conte has moulded winning teams at each of his last three clubs and also enjoyed relative success during his time as Italy national team boss, but Manchester United will need their next manager to make some difficult decisions. Their future might not hold a place for Solskjaer, but it’s not quite clear what alternative direction they should take.



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