Since 20 September, Manchester United have one Premier League win. The Red Devils have only managed to beat Tottenham Hotspur 10 days ago and that is it. In the meantime, they did manage to get some Champions League wins, against Villarreal and Atalanta, thanks to late salvations from Cristiano Ronaldo, but the team is clearly far from performing and making results that were expected of them. A 5-0 loss to Liverpool at Old Trafford is still ringing in the fans’ ears as a reminder of how low this team went at that point in the season, and a 2-0 loss to Manchester City in the derby did not surprise anyone.
So the question many are asking right now is – why is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still the Manchester United manager? Why are the club officials keeping him? He was reportedly very close to losing his job after the Liverpool game and since then, the team has won just one of the following three matches. What is the thinking from the club?
Man United Like Stability
As we have seen in these several years after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, Man United have been making many choices that were contradictory to their previous decisions. Long-term planning under David Moyes who did not last a season. Bringing in possession-based manager in Louis van Gaal and then replacing him with results oriented Jose Mourinho. There was a lot of turmoil and when Solskjaer arrived three years ago, he was there to steady the ship.
And he did so. Man United have never been so stable in general terms since Ferguson as they have been under Solskjaer. But the problem is that this type of stability is not getting the team anywhere. No silverware, no realistic challenging for the title and no chance of making a run deep into the Champions League campaign. So what is the point then?
United Do Not Know Who Would Replace Ole
If United were to sack Solskjaer, who would come to replace him? The mentioning of Antonio Conte few weeks ago is now impossible, since he joined Tottenham Hotspur. The likes of Andrea Pirlo, Ernesto Valverde, Lucien Favre, Ronald Koeman and Gennaro Gattuso would definitely not be the club’s choice and Zinedine Zidane is thought of not being interested in the job. So if United were to sack Solskjaer, there is no obvious replacement, especially not if the club are looking for someone to build their team with for the long-term. Solskjaer is in luck as the club is not only slow with making such decisions, but also because, right now, their stability is best kept with Solskjaer.
Another reason for keeping Solskjaer around is because the club have also invested heavily in this squad and the players he wanted. Sure, that does not mean this team was built in a balanced manner – which is something we can see with contradictory moves in the market from the club, and also with the disproportion of quality in different areas of the pitch.
It seems that Man United have put themselves in a position where doing anything just creates more questions the club are not ready to answer yet.