Manchester United have taken the reins on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and Zinedine Zidane being his potential successor would be a sign that they are returning to a proven and trusted strategy
If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was involved in a game of bingo that centred purely on managerial sackings, Manchester United’s 4-1 defeat at Watford contained enough cliches for him to land the jackpot.
How humiliating is that? Check.
Did the club captain send off in the most reckless fashion? Check.
What happens to the most beloved player of the team when he gets into a fight with fans in the away side? You can check.
The only square that remained unchecked on Solskjaer’s bingo card was the sacking itself. After holding emergency talks Saturday night, the Manchester United board decided that the axe would be taken.
After apologizing to his supporters for their displays, the Norwegian appealed to them to keep fighting and to fight for the next day. He also said that he could change things.
The damage was done. His 35-month reign was ended, and he did not receive a trophy.
Man United were taken apart by Claudio Ranieri’s Watford, a team languishing in the bottom half of the Premier League table who hadn’t won at home since the opening day of the season.
They were also thrashed 5-0 by Liverpool in their own home in Ranieri’s first game — and that is a feeling Solskjaer can relate to after being beaten by the same scoreline.
The difference between the two bosses is that Ranieri’s side have made gradual progress over that time, picking up some decent results since the Italian’s arrival.
Few could argue Solskjaer’s United have done the same since their Old Trafford mauling; their tally of four points since September 25 is the lowest of any club in the Premier League.
The 48-year-old had been afforded the patience and loyalty his predecessors — and other managers at big clubs — haven’t. Man United had to take the hard but correct decision following this disastrous performance.
United’s Solskjaer regime has seen some improvement, moving from fifth to second within two seasons. But the lack of silverware in their trophy cabinet is damning and for a club of United’s size simply intolerable.
There may not be many general managerial options after Antonio Conte was taken up by Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino is currently at Paris Saint-Germain.
Man United are serious about bringing success back to the club, highlighted by their £120m investment over the summer. They could do worse than to turn to Zinedine Zidane, now that Solskjaer has been removed from the managerial hotseat.
Since leaving Real Madrid, the Frenchman has been unemployed. He won the Champions League three times consecutively between 2016-2018 and La Liga twice in two spells.
Unlike Solskjaer, Zidane has pedigree in managing clubs at the high level and his track record suggests he could be the man to turn United’s underachieving squad into title contenders.
According to The Times, the club’s owners, the Glazers, have made contact with officials telling them to increase their offer in order to land former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.
Although reports suggest that the Frenchman may be reluctant to step in mid-season, there is optimism that they will reach an agreement.
Zidane could simply walk into Old Trafford to replace Solskjaer.
The feeling is that for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, the players are good enough to mount a challenge for the Premier League title.
Cristiano Ronaldo is 36 years old and has demonstrated his ability to finish. He may enjoy the chance to reunite with his former coach.
You also have Scott McTominay, Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sáncho, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood who are all waiting to unleash their talents.
And the central defensive partnership of Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane would supposed to turn United’s leaky backline into an impenetrable wall.
His arrival could also have a positive effect on Paul Pogba’s contract negotiations, with the 28-year-old still yet to renew his deal which has only seven months left before it expires.
United is in dire need of a defensive midfielder.
Zidane has worked in difficult circumstances before, handling a dressing room with superstars such as Ronaldo, Isco, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos, so controlling the Red Devils’ squad should not be too difficult a task.
France’s head coach isn’t afraid to reject those who are not in his way. That could be the thing United need to fire up their players.
But more importantly, Zidane’s tactics and coaching methods get results, while the biggest criticism of Solskjaer is that United have had no discernible identity under his management.
There are doubts as to whether Zidane is willing to take over at Old Trafford — one factor being his wife’s apparent reluctance to move to England. United may have succeeded in their decision to take decisive action if he is able to convince him to accept the role.
It is clear that, after three years of planning for the future, the board has returned to United’s old approach of putting success and results above all else.
It was what drove them to leave for Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal two years later. They were proved winners.
It seems that Zidane and the team are now ready for the challenge.