Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will always be a Manchester United legend but the biggest criticism you can level against his reign as manager is that he failed to win a trophy. There were highlights, such as the two wins against PSG in Paris, and painful disappointments, particularly the Europa League final against Villarreal last season.
But from day one people were questioning whether Solskjaer was the right man for the job and that was always going to take its toll. It will have affected his confidence and the team’s performances. We are all human beings in football and, when people are constantly doubting you, it gets to you.
You can see from the way the United players have been wishing him well on social media that Solskjaer had a strong bond with them. There was mutual respect. In the end, though, when results go against you the way they have for United recently, the manager will be sacked.
Watford defeat was embarrassing
Some people have said United should have sacked Solskjaer before the international break but I think the board were right to give him time to try to turn around results. After the defeat at Watford, though, there was no way he could continue. It was embarrassing getting tonked 4-1 at Vicarage Road.
As a club, Watford are not on the same level as United, but the Hornets beat them comfortably and Solskjaer had to go.
Carrick is the man for the interim
If United want to appoint an interim coach for the remainder of the season then Michael Carrick is the guy. He’s been at the club for a long time, first as player then as a coach under Jose Mourinho and Solskjaer.
I know Carrick well and, across his career, he’s learned from some of the best managers.
He is an experienced leader and an excellent communicator who has earned the respect of his fellow professionals. The United players will listen to him and play for him.
The club should not look any further than my old teammate until they make a permanent appointment.
Poch or Blanc should be next for United
United have long admired Mauricio Pochettino but, as he is currently the manager of Paris Saint-Germain, it is difficult to see how he could be appointed at Old Trafford any time soon. The only solution I can see would be if Zinedine Zidane were to go to PSG. If he is open to that then I could see a switch for Pochettino happening soon.
That said, there can often be surprises when it comes to appointing managers. When Jose Mourinho was sacked, who thought Solskjaer would succeed him and stay in charge for three years? We’ve been surprised in the past and may be surprised again.
Many United fans would be pleased to see Pochettino in charge and I can understand why after his success at Tottenham and his commitment to team-building.
Laurent Blanc is an interesting candidate. He’s an ex-United player, who won everything, has managed PSG and France, and has the respect of the players.
He has the charisma and composure required to manage United and he also speaks fluent English. As I understand it, Zidane doesn’t speak much English and I think that would be a problem for him at United.
Conte’s passion fires up players and upsets opponents
Spurs were very poor in their first half against Leeds and probably received the hairdryer treatment from Antonio Conte at half-time because their performance after the break was a different story.
They played with intensity, kept Leeds under pressure and deserved to score the two goals that won them the game. The key for Spurs, if they’re to have any chance of finishing in the top six or four, will be whether they can achieve the consistency that’s eluded them in the past.
Big things are expected from Conte at Spurs but the same was true of Jose Mourinho and we all saw how that fell apart. I hope Conte is more successful and, most importantly, wins a trophy with Spurs.
Conte is a proud Italian and his emotional performance on the touchline was the kind of thing you see from many Italian managers and players. Sometimes it can cross the line into disrespect for the opponent.
If you’re too much out there and in your opponent’s face when you’re winning, it can be interpreted as disrespect. That was how Mourinho saw it when Conte’s Chelsea were beating United at Stamford Bridge.
But Conte isn’t going to change. His passion, tactical nous and experience has achieved great results at other clubs and that’s why Spurs have appointed him.