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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains in his post as Manchester United manager for now, thanks to the backing of Ed Woodward and Joel Glazer. But while the United hierarchy are reluctant to sack Solskjaer, they may have to if the recent run of form continues once the season resumes after the international break.
United have won just three of their last 10 matches in all competitions and have been humiliated by their two closest rivals in each of their last home matches.
The Sun reports that it is now a case of when, not if, Solskjaer will be given his marching orders.
Solskjaer has been exposed tactically by Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, while Antonio Conte’s appointment as Nuno Espirito Santo’s successor at Tottenham has led some to question the Norwegian’s credentials.
He may have been in charge for nearly three years, but is he really the best option available to a club as historic, rich and powerful as United?
One of the reasons put forward for Solskjaer still being employed following the 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool and 2-0 defeat by Man City is the lack of available alternatives.
But, as Express Sport will show, there are some options out there which would not cost United a penny to appoint.
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Solskjaer could be on the brink of being sacked (Image: GETTY)
Valverde has been out of work since January 2020 (Image: GETTY)
“Things have come up that I turned down. The idea of going abroad is attractive: something different. Could be [England]. I wouldn’t mind trying it. You get the feeling that there’s a respect there for what the game is.”
Zinedine ZidaneZidane is without a doubt the most high-profile manager who is currently without a club.
The 49-year-old left Real Madrid in May for a second time and has understandably been linked to just about every big job in Europe since.
His record of three Champions League titles – back-to-back no less – and two La Liga titles deserves plenty of attention.
And the fact he has experience of working with big-name players with big egos would stand him in good stead at United, where the likes of Raphael Varane, Bruno Fernandes and especially Cristiano Ronaldo need a figure who will command respect.
Zidane would command respect in the United dressing room (Image: GETTY)
If Zidane were to walk in, you sense he would have the players onside from day one.
Paulo FonsecaFonseca’s name has been bandied about a lot recently, with the former Roma boss connected with the previously vacant roles at Tottenham and Newcastle.
After plenty of years working in Portugal, Fonseca has spent the past five years in charge of Shakhtar Donetsk and Roma.
At Shakhtar he won three successive Ukrainian league and cup doubles, winning a whopping 103 of his 139 games in charge overall.
That record earned him the Roma job, where he did not cover himself in glory, finishing fifth and seventh. He did, however, reach the semi-finals of the Europa League last season, while working with a budget a lot less than the one his successor Jose Mourinho is currently underwhelming with.
Lucien FavreFavre is a hugely experienced manager, having taken charge of Hertha Berlin, Borussia Monchengladbach, Nice and Borussia Dortmund since 2007.
His pedigree at turning failing clubs around has seen him considered by both Crystal Palace and Newcastle over the past six months.
The 64-year-old would definitely be a left-field appointment by United, but they arguably could do with his methods.
“My players have to be ready to suffer in training,” Favre once said. With United’s pressing currently all over the place under Solskjaer, it would certainly be an interesting change at Old Trafford.
Favre has a reputation for hard training sessions (Image: GETTY)
Michael CarrickCarrick has been groomed as a potential head coach ever since he retired from playing in 2018 – and could now be his time?
The former midfielder has worked under Solskjaer and alongside Kieran McKenna and Mike Phelan for three years now and is bound to have his own ideas of how to improve the team.
The players would already be familiar with the 40-year-old, whose recent playing experience could give him a point of difference from potential competitors.
United have shown they are keen on appointing people with knowledge of the club, with Ryan Giggs and Solskjaer himself previously taking charge as interim managers.
If United’s hierarchy don’t fancy any of the options available then they could decide to appoint Carrick on a short-term basis before trying to hire Brendan Rodgers from Leicester City in the summer.