After much agony, Manchester United have sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
This isn’t how anyone wished the saga between club and coach would end, yet it has felt inevitable for some time leading up to the defeat at Watford. Claudio Ranieri has brought life back to Watford, who have beaten both Everton and Manchester United quite handily. A draw against Arsenal could’ve occurred as well, if not for a bit of bad luck.
Returning to the plight of Manchester United, without any real leadership this season there was never going to be a possibility of improvement. With the Norwegian now out of a job, it will be up to the club hierarchy to navigate this talented squad to a safe setting with a positive, tactical and thoughtful new manager.
Who might that be?
Zinedine Zidane has reportedly said no to the job but this is a loaded club that he could potentially pilot to glory in the right conditions.
Might it be Ernesto Valverde?
Another recent La Liga boss who can win with sound, tactically fresh football and who knows how to manage massive personalities.
These are two of my favorites for the position, but they are far from the only names. What lies ahead for the next manager is to take a great amount of talent and ego, and turn it into an actual team that can compete with the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
As for Solskjaer, it is sad to see him flame out this way. I was always rooting for him; he seems like a reasonably nice guy. But it simply didn’t work out. The experience and success he managed at United should help him elevate his abilities in his next stops, wherever that ends up being.
But for the players, they will have to become truly accountable once more. There will be no more using the old Norwegian boss as a human shield for games like the 4-1 loss to Watford. While the manager deserves blame, the players clearly gave up under him and that is difficult to reconcile with any type of winning mentality.
Solskjaer is gone, but issues remain for Manchester United
I am not so sure these players will be able to turn it on and come together quickly for whoever takes the reins. They seem forever dissatisfied accepting little to no accountability week in and out. Only Cristiano Ronaldo comes to play each and every match, and his frustration is palpable.
Exactly what will change now that Solskjaer is gone?
There will be new voices, new strategies, new tactics and new ways of fitting the players alongside one another. But will the players be committed to playing with the conviction necessary to win matches across multiple competitions? What about trophies?
Whoever is brought in will undoubtedly give the club energy and will have pundits and players alike talking about the possibilities that lie ahead for Manchester United team. But the proof will always be in the proverbial pudding.
For this group of players, no less than when Solskjaer was the boss, they must bring silverware to Old Trafford. They have been second place for far too long and must reassert themselves, no matter who is in charge. While this is the real issue, it will not be treated as such. The search for a coach will dominate the headlines, only for that coach to find enough success to justify some of what was said.
Perhaps if that coach can win something substantial, it might even improve the play and momentum of the squad going forward. But without some type of boost, I’m not sure these players have it in them to make the changes necessary to organically build a project to a greater position than the one they currently find themselves in.