The pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the Manchester United dugout is reaching breaking point after their 2-0 defeat to bitter rivals Manchester City. The nature of the loss compounded the air of negativity surrounding Old Trafford as the Red Devils failed to lay a glove on Pep Guardiola’s team.
As a result of United’s slump, the club are mulling over replacements for Solskjaer and the latest Man Utd manager odds have backed Brendan Rodgers at 4/6 to replace him. Considering that Tottenham were able to lure Antonio Conte to their vacant manager’s position, the appointment of Rodgers would be met with a sceptical eye by fans of the club. However, a look at the manager specials tips would highlight there are not lot of options available for the Red Devils, which could force their hand towards the Leicester City manager.
The fact that Rodgers previously managed Liverpool would be a mark against him, in the same manner that Everton fans have not warmed to the hiring of Rafael Benitez. Rodgers has also not enjoyed overwhelming success in management in England, even though he won the FA Cup with Leicester City last season, beating Chelsea 1-0 in the final at Wembley Stadium.
Rodgers has been known to allow positions of strength to slip, notably in the 2013/14 season when Liverpool allowed the Premier League crown to evade their grasp in the closing stages of the term. During the two years under Rodgers’ tenure, the Foxes have failed to qualify for the Champions League in back-to-back campaigns, despite being well placed in the final throes of both terms.
The Northern Irishman was sensational during his time at Celtic, winning the league twice in his three seasons with the Bhoys. Success is difficult to judge in Scotland, although the formula worked for United in the past after they appointed Sir Alex Ferguson following his successful spell in charge of Aberdeen. Whether lightning could strike twice for the Red Devils remains to be seen.
They first need to resolve the future of Solskjaer. The Norwegian was already under pressure heading into the Manchester derby after suffering a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Liverpool two weeks earlier. On that occasion, United collapsed amid a ferocious onslaught from their rivals, who appeared to invoke an element of mercy in the second half after scoring four goals in the opening 45 minutes.
The goodwill towards Solskjaer, due to his legendary playing career and personality at Old Trafford, is slowly abating, although he is being aided by pundits in the media, who he played alongside. United have lost their defensive resolve, especially at home where they have failed to keep a clean sheet in all competitions this season. Solskjaer cannot point to a lack of investment as an excuse as the club signed Raphael Varane to bolster the ranks that were already stocked with Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly, who cost over a £100 million between them.
Matters in the final third are being held together by Cristiano Ronaldo, saving the Red Devils twice in the Champions League against Atalanta. The veteran has papered over the cracks, but the problems with cohesion are just as evident in attack as they are in defence. Jadon Sancho has received the Donny van de Beek treatment of not seeing the field despite the obvious struggles of other players.
There are a host of issues to contend with that would trouble a skilled manager at the peak of his powers. It appears to be overwhelming Solskjaer, whose upbeat demeanour is souring by the week.
Unfortunately for United, the options to replace him are not overly inspiring. Rodgers being the outstanding candidate is not a positive sign for their ambition of returning to the glory days of Premier League title wins. However, the club’s hierarchy need to make a decision regarding their future as the Red Devils are floating through purgatory with Solskjaer at the helm.