If Man Utd were to sack Solskjaer, who replaces him?

Date published: Friday 1st October 2021 8:27 - Editor F365

Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks glum

Keep your mails coming in to theeditor@football365.com


If not Ole, then who?
United don’t look great, sure. But they finished second last season and are, at time of writing, one point off the top of the table (like approximately 15 other teams and after only a few games, not saying its a particularly great achievement). You wouldn’t bet against them finishing in the top four. They got knocked out of the league Cup by fielding a 2nd 11 against a PL team, because they didn’t care about the result.

They’re not in their groove but it’s only September… There’s no crisis here.

If a Guardiola or a Klopp was sat at home twiddling their thumbs then fine, brutal as it sounds, bin him. But there isn’t one. Whoever they bring in at great expense would be a roll of the dice and unlikely to pinch the league this season from one of the aforementioned anyway.

What would be the point of ditching him right now? What would that achieve, bring in a marginally better manager who may finish more comfortably in the top four? Who cares.

Things under Ole haven’t gone south, I don’t think for all the click baiting commentary on f365 and the like, they look like they’re going to. While it’s frustrating to see the club treading water for the time being, that’s just the way it is until the next wunderkind manager off the conveyor belt is ready.
Andy (MUFC)


…Glad some positivity resumed to the mailbox. A 96th minute had me buzzing all night but somehow all the immediate reaction in the mailbox was Ole out.

Sure ole out – and then who?

It isn’t hyperbolic to say I’d rather lose with Ole now than win with Conte. We won stuff with Jose but overall he pushed the club back and made rebuilding harder.

The armchair analysts can hate on Ole but the fans in the stadium love him. An Old Trafford crowd will not stand for Conte’s style for a long period of time. Even if Conte manages to win something in the short run, it’ll just send the club back.

And then we will need another overhaul with the “Conte/Jose” style players needing to be phased out.

The only other top manager available is Zidane. I don’t see Zidane taking the job even if its made available, he will succeed Pochetino most likely but even if he was to – what are the chances he will be a success? He doesn’t have the players he had at his disposal at Madrid.

Ole has moulded a team in his image. We have down the hard part. Now he has a chance to play his team, and see where it goes. If he wins nothing in the next two years, or if Manchester United are seventh in March, sure consider sacking him but any discussion of #OleOut right now is ludicrous.

But then again if people can talk about sacking Tuchel after two losses – anything is possible.

Glad there are saner heads inside Old Trafford. No matter what happens my money is on Ole seeing this season through atleast.

Shehzad Ghias, MUFC, Karachi


…You’ve got the world’s highest paid goalkeeper, you expect him to save stuff, you’ve got one of the best strikers of all time, you expect him to score a few, you spend 450 million quid on players in between them and you expect them to play better than decent football…or do we…Once again we witnessed a shapeless, turgid, disjointed performance which has become the rule not the exception. When has this become acceptable for Man Utd fans? I must be watching a totally different side to those from the #Olein brigade, as it’s hardly any better than the last 8 years…only difference is the amount of money we’ve paid to remain this clueless. This team will always win games (without playing well) because of the quality of individuals, but never major honours because of the quality of the manager.

By the way, when we spawn a win, why does Ole always look like a 15 year old that managed to sneak into a pub…it’s like he can’t believe he got in!

Nb Not #oleout, more #neverolein
Dubai Red

Big Weekend: Liverpool v Man City, Solskjaer, Rodrigo, Chelsea, Barca


Ole’s no fool
One of the very annoying things about football fans is the binary way in which they view clubs, teams, players, and managers. They’re either good, or they’re crap. Either the best in the world, or the worst to ever play the game.

For example, in the Thursday afternoon mailbox Synnott (vibes) says “Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a bad coach. I think that’s relatively undisputed.” This followed up later with “[h]e’s just a very, very bad manager.”

This is a ridiculous take. There’s a huge difference between being not good enough to manage a club expecting to win the Premier League or the Champions League and being a “bad” coach or manager.

Ignoring his time at the United Academy, Solskjaer has been a manager for 10 years now. We all know about the 9 months he spent at the dysfunctional Cardiff City. There isn’t a manager in the world who could have done any better there at that time.

Outside of that he was manager of Molde for a combined 7 seasons. He won two league titles there and, with the exception of the 2013 season, improved their positions or points total season-on-season. And, yes before all you witty people say it, I know you’ll describe Norway as a farmers league. They’re, according to UEFA, the 20th best league in Europe. He’s been in charge of United for 2.5 seasons – United have improved their position in the table season-on-season since he took over.

I’m not trying to claim Solskjaer is the best manager in the world, he clearly isn’t. The point I’m making is that there is a place in between being the best and being the worst. He can be not good enough for United, and still not be a “very, very bad manager”.

Perspective is needed. I don’t think Solskjaer is the manager to help United take the next step. However, he’s still a better football manager than 99.9% of the population.


Solskjaer’s staff
Can’t sleep so how about a mail…
But before the main mail, some points:

1. West Ham are a genuinely good team, David Moyes has done his reputation so much good and I think they should be targeting the champions league because this team look more in sync than man utd at the moment. Nothing less than sixth though.

2. Is something wrong at Leicester? It seems there may actually be a problem. Ask Leeds too if you may. Still early though.

3. Barcelona need a Cruyff at the moment, they should give Ten Hag a call. Though, man utd may want to win that race.

4. There is nothing wrong with chelsea, they will compete for the title and may win it but will definitely not be far off. They should also comfortably reach the latter stages of the champions league and top their group.

Now, I have had time to think and I thought about comparing Molde and Man Utd under Solskjaer.

The general principles are the same but you will find that Molde were more tactically drilled. A well coached team if you may. If you gave them space, they countered effectively, if you sat off, they patiently passed around you. They were greater than the sum of their parts. A good game to see will be the 3-1 win against overwhelming favourites Celtic. They actually came to play and attack against Celtic and deservedly won the match.

I should mention here that huge credit goes to Ole. He has raised the club far above the level he met it. Even the owners are not that much of a problem on the workings of the club anymore. They have a football and technical director and have revamped their recruitment structure to solve various issues and a big reason for all this and many other things is Solskjaer.
But the time has come where the only real complaints people have is about the football on the field. They believe for the first time in almost a decade that they should actually be able to challenge for the biggest trophies, even Jose Mourinho will not complain if he had that team. They have reached a level that appointing a top class coach will see them compete for the biggest trophies, bring back Mourinho and Van Gaal now and they have a platform to do a far better job. This is all thanks to Ole.

Going back to the Molde comparisons, Man Utd seem more unstructured and very poorly coached compared to them. Why is this? I am not sure, If Ole doesn’t do much on the training ground according to him, then why should he be sacked? United should instead celebrate. Another coach very similar to their greatest one they had has come their way. You instead look at their backroom staff. Compare them to that of their rivals and you will realise the gravity of the situation. If you are not that good tactically, then, shouldn’t you have someone very good at that in your backroom staff. Ole did not work with Phelan, Carrick, McKenna and Harris at Molde and it shows. Ramsey seems to be doing a good job though. We don’t really know the extent of their work and who does what but you had 3 days to prepare for Villarreal and they came up with the worst tactical set up man has seen. The only time man utd have been consistently good under Solskjaer were some few games after lockdown and the positive momentum went with Matic’s legs. Solskjaer should either sack his backroom staff and appoint competent persons or just add to them or they all go and some new bunch come to take their place.


Great entertainers
1 day after the utd game, time for a more considered reaction…

The result always skews interpretation of the game and that game could have been any result even with a minute on the clock.

Utds defence was very concerning. Not much of a surprise given the only first choice in the back 4 was Varane who has only played a handful of games for utd and none with the backups he was surrounded by. Unfortunately, Dalot and Telles showed how much of a drop off from the regular starters they were. Brandon Williams in a better defender than either of them.

It was also a curious game to drop McFred. I would have thought that defence needed the cover but I’m not going to be overly critical of that as Ole knew Villareal would be tough to beat and overly defensive. Time wasting seemed to start very early. Despite being hampered by defensive starters I think Ole rightly had to try and win as anything less would have put us in last place in the group instead of 1 pt off the top, albeit 3rd.

The biggest concern for me was that with all that attacking talent on the pitch utd still didn’t create enough clear cut chances. I do think though that a major contributing factor is the lack of a solid base whereby the back 4 would usually contribute to the build up play and stop way more of those dangerous counters in their tracks. Another factor is the newness of Sancho and Ronaldo. In Sanchos case, he showed signs of improvement and increasing confidence. He started last season slow too. For Ronaldo, the front players just need to get used to how to play to his strengths without overly relying on him. As wonderful a player as he is, the rest of the attackers need to be getting on the scoresheet regularly too.

For all the money spent this summer, it still shows that we’ve improved our strongest area in depth, our back up defenders will cost us a lot of points if forced to play them and that we really should have fought harder to get a Declan rice that surely Lingard plus Martial plus cash could easily have worked.

And lastly, I like Jlingz, he should have gone to West Ham, but I really feel bad for Donny that he is now even lower on the pecking order to a player that proved over many seasons he was not up to standard. Even with his decent cameo performances this season I just can’t see how Jlingz has any future at utd. He’ll be back at the hammers in January if they need him. I think Ole just likes his energy when he comes on.

Utd started last season badly too, this season we’ve actually started much better than that, remember we lost 6-1 to Jose’s Spurs with some comic defending. We hit top spot around November though and were sitting comfortably in champions league – didn’t continue that form for long enough though and fell short in big games. I think we are better than last season but those weaknesses may well be too big. We’ve been lucky to avoid our biggest rivals in the opening weeks, its going to be quite revealing as to how we fare when we come up against them whenever that may be, must be soon…please wait while I check league fixtures….Everton, Leicester, Liverpool, Spurs, City, Watford, Chelsea with Atalanta and Villareal thrown in for good measure…WOW…that is just the test we need.

Utd still the team to watch for an entertaining game with every result possible. Not what brings trophies though, just ask Kevin Keegan.
Jon, Cape Town

Ronaldo keeps the Solskjaer cycle going at Man Utd


Fickle fans
What is going with united fans?

You guys are so fickle these days. One minute you have “a real chance of winning the league ” the next there’s pram toys all over the floor.

I think y’all been watching mark goldbridge too much (he’s the real cancer of united – a man whose literal job is to stoke up the tears of united fans).

Not too long ago the fans conversation was about how wan bissaka was superior to Trent because of his greater defensive ability, and now it seems like united fans talk about wan bissaka crap defensive ability every week. Give the guy a break, he’s a young player with a lot of promise who for some reason united fans pinned a large chunk of their hopes. Same with Maguire y’all were talking about whether he was better than van dijk and could do the same thing for united that van dijk did for Liverpool. In a sky poll for the best combined 11 of united and Liverpool United fans even had Maguire and wan bissaka in that combined 11.

And now wan bissaka is a liability and Maguire is a tanker that can’t turn around. Those are just two examples of many where you insult your own players. Do you think that has a positive or negative effect on said players? As another poster pointed out you don’t need another midfielder, fergie won the league with possibly the worst midfield to ever win a league (though it was significantly easier to win the league back then).

Stop crying about not having (yet another) expensive midfielder and start backing your team and manager. Ole finished second last year and reached a major cup final. There’s two ways it can go, you can either be like pochettino and that’s the best you ever get, or you can be like klopp and use those near misses to drive you to success the next year, and you as fans get to help decide that with your support. One thing is for certain – you aren’t winning anything with 60k mark goldbridges in the stands every week.


Narative watch
Trying a new concept – PL narrative watch: One storyline per club, ranked in terms of focus / attention / hype, with trend. Updated every 4 games (ish)

Spurs are effed: Yes
Ongoing debate as to whether Kane wants to be there, impact of that on the dressing room, a manager who ran out of gas at Wolves pitched straight into another job, a club battling to recreate the magic of a previous manager, got belted in the derby. Not good…
Ole In/Out: In, just
If CR7 doesn’t score against Villareal… (if my aunt had balls etc.)
Burn Newcastle down and start again: Yes
Fans have decided the manager needs to go, the owner needs to go, and are dependent on one player for excitement/results. Suboptimal
Chelsea win the PL: No
Anything less than that is a failure given the spend. Probably can’t afford to lose more than 4 games so not all doom and gloom – yet
Arteta In/Out: In
Artificially high given the number of media types who played for Arsenal. Running at a B- for the season, could go either way
Liverpool are better than last year: Yes
Jones and Elliot stepping up to replace Wijnaldum, Thiago figuring it out, the big 3 ramping up, VVD / Gomez / Matip back…
Brentford stay up: Yes
The system works!
Villa are actually good: Yes
Looking at winners and losers of the Grealish transfer you’d have to say Villa are on top so far…
Everton finish >7th: No
Probably shouldn’t bet against Rafa here…
WHam finish >7th: Yes
Feels a bit (note the bit) like Poch at Spurs – a manager with a plan, aligning the team and notorious owners behind him, fans loving it…
Potter can keep Brighton in the top half: Yes
Still low scoring, but I’m backing them in
Rodgers next man up for big 6 (i.e. Spurs or Arsenal): No
You’d have to say Conte is the biggest managerial fish out there, and this season isn’t helping Rodgers
Leeds have run out of gas already: Yes
Has the league caught up with their style and figured out how to counter them?
Watford Yo-Yo: No
I mean they shouldn’t, but might be saved by having three worse teams
Wolves stay up: Yes
Really not sure about this one, looks a bit like the magic is gone…
Burnley will continue to defy gravity: No
They always come good – right?
Saints do something interesting: No
Another hammering maybe?
Norwich care about staying in the PL: No
It must be hard watching for the fans watching Watford and Brentford enjoying some success. They might all bounce back down, but Norwich having zero fun doing it at the moment
Palace finish between 10th and 15th: Yes
Palace doing Palace things
City need a striker: No
Banging in the goals, and they’re signing Haaland and/or Mbappe in the summer aren’t they…
Hope this was vaguely interesting. Beats the sh*t out of what I’m getting paid to do…
Simon, formerly of London (yeah yeah Conte wouldn’t touch either of them with a barge pole so Rodgers wins by default)

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman

Barca’s dross
Read your winners and losers bit today, and the bit about Barca was most interesting. Mostly about how you’re painting the issues, with the backdrop of the debt and chaos.

Rather than point the entire finger at the manager, interestingly (though the article did mention it in passing before failing to go with it), the article commented on the quality of those around the young stars of Pedri and Fati. In fact, the rest were called dross.

Let me remind you about this “dross”: Ter Stegen in goal; a defence that includes Lenglet, Dest and Alba; a midfield that as well as Pedri includes De Jong and Coutinho; and a forward collection that includes Depay (who has been doing perfectly nicely), Dembele, an albeit fading Aguero as well as Fati. These in addition to players that dross might be more fitting as a description for.

While it gives me a sense of warmth and contentment to see this club – a club that wore it’s social conscience loudly on its chest until it suddenly decided to go big on the oil money – going through a tough time, let’s not pretend that the players are bad. Far from it. Citing Luuk de Jong as evidence of the quality problem is a slight of hand. They may be a club that is reeling from a couple of uppercuts, and have some strange players in the squad, the problems are not particularly with the players. United would snap their hand off for De Jong, for example, while Lenglet and Alba would drop into most top sides. Meanwhile Memphis has earned his second shot at the big time, and both Pedri and Fati are huge talents.

Let me just say it straight: if that was Man United, you’d be saying that the squad was fine and it’s all down to Ole. Meanwhile Klopp and Pep are spinning gold from straw. I wonder why the different narrative.

The truth is that they are struggling to deal with the loss of a key player/player changes, the introduction of a new manager with a new vision and some holes in the squad. Which sounds a little familiar.

Badwolf (Incidentally, how did no one else bid more than £16m for Moriba. I didn’t know he’d gone too, but that lad is a top talent.)


…Is Barcelona going into a death spiral akin to Leeds in 2003?

Barcelona’s wage ceiling is now €97MM, less than Crystal Palace’s wage bill last year, so what happens if / when they break it?

Short of some deus ex machina of finding the second coming of Lionel Messi (which wouldn’t be completely unsurprising) or Roman Ambramovic, it feels like they are going to have to keep selling/releasing players to meet their financial obligations, with the discount being a forced seller entails. And with each sale they’ll struggle more to attract the players to maintain their position, and hence income – leading to more forced sales. But I really have no clue of the mechanics of the la Liga’s caps. Would love to hear from someone who knows!

Finally, if Barcelona were to get relegated, would this be the most spectacular fall from grace ever?

Ben Morton-Harmer (New York)


Bad punditry
There’s a lesson to be had about the high entertainment value but almost zero substance value of most football media punditry. A few short weeks ago Mikel Arteta was on his last legs, ready to bend over and receive his kick out the door, except now that his team is starting to bed in he’s not looking so bad after all. Solksjaer meanwhile was riding high with a strong unbeaten start and then inevitably -after a defeat or two – was not good enough again- but even there beating Villareal despite receiving a literal spanking in the first half will stay some of the worst of the braying.

As a Liverpool fan I both love the fact that Ole Olay is not yet the finished article as a Man United manager AND the prospect that United will fire him before he becomes one, adding further turmoil to their plans into the medium to long term. So please United fans, keep your impatience up so that my hopes for your club continue to come true.

In the case of both Arteta and Ole, the clubs have bought into a policy of finding and nurturing the football managers of tomorrow. For that to work you need to both insist that there is a general positive trajectory of improvement over a season or two (with Ole this is happening, with Arteta, we should know by the end of the season) and show the resilience and patience to weather the inevitable dips along the way. But neither of these fit the time horizons of the modern football fan or football club and even less so of the modern football media company.

Look, I get that the media model is for fast paced reactions to recent events and it’s lotsa fun to read and react to all of these hot takes. Without them you wouldn’t have as hilarious a mailbox or as entertaining a Mediawatch. So my ask is not to that the media get a grip since that would spoil the fun but rather to the passionate and blinkered football fan. My better angels insist that I include Man United fans in this: stop losing your bowel movements whenever your side has a bad spell. Look instead to the overall trajectory and give your club’s strategy time to work. If you want to do something constructive, consider what strategy and personnel would be better alternatives. If you can’t then shut yer trap.

So here’s 3 cheers to a more engrossing but less funny Mailbox and an equally entertaining Mediawatch….

Hip Hip
Miguel L (LFC – great start to the season. Who cares if no one thinks we’re going to win anything – remember! Football media punditry value = 0 at least 90% of the time)


Did anyone else notice how many Portuguese speaking players Man Utd had on the pitch when Ronaldo scored that dramatic late winner against Villareal? Between Portugal and Brazil, we had Dalot, Telles, Fernandes, Fred and Ronaldo – all Portuguese speakers! Plus Spanish speakers De Gea and Cavani.

It got me thinking: has any English team ever had as many Portuguese speaking players on the pitch at one time? How about any team outside of Portugal or Brazil? Has any English team ever had more players of one language group on the pitch at once? I was thinking maybe one of Wenger’s Arsenal teams featuring lots of Frenchmen, but I’m not sure. Does anyone know?? I’d be curious to hear from other F365ers on this topic!
Heenal Rajani, Utd fan, Canada

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