Let’s not pretend Manchester United know what they want.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may be gone, but just a couple of weeks ago you can bet there were enough high-up people at Old Trafford who thought the club legend was the right man for the long term, otherwise he surely would’ve been shown the door after that embarrassing 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool, instead of keeping him on for further embarrassments against Manchester City and Watford.
What exactly were those extra few weeks for? Now we hear that Man Utd want Mauricio Pochettino, but there’s no indication that a big club like Paris Saint-Germain are going to let their manager leave in the middle of the season, according to the Telegraph.
Is there a plan beyond that? We’ve also heard about Ernesto Valverde being eyed up as an interim manager, according to BBC Sport, and CaughtOffside understands there have been talks with Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers.
As usual, none of this screams of a club that knows what it’s doing. But perhaps United just need to embrace that uncertainty and use the second half of what is essentially a dud season to experiment.
Sure, if they could get Pochettino now that seems like it would be ideal, but can we really be so sure the Argentine would thrive in these circumstances? It took him time to really work his magic at Tottenham, where he was working under a lot less pressure than he would be at United. At PSG, where standards are high and patience is thin, he’s not been quite as convincing. Just because he seems like the obvious choice, no one at United really knows any better than you or I if this move would actually work.
But maybe that’s okay. Maybe for once, United don’t need to have all the answers. It’s taboo for a club of this size to talk about ‘transition’ seasons, but this is a team that will never get back to where it used to be by chasing some mythical ‘Man Utd way’. There will never be another Sir Alex Ferguson. There will be far more high-quality opposition than ever before in the Premier League era as English football becomes more and more dominant and when others will surely follow Newcastle in going down the route that Chelsea and Manchester City went down in recent times too.
United need to find out where they fit into this brave new footballing world, but that won’t happen with a rushed managerial appointment now. Why not give a chance to an Ernesto Valverde or a Ralf Rangnick for six months? Neither seem like the kind of names you’d expect to be a long-term fix for the club, but if we’re honest with ourselves we can all see that every manager now is really just an interim manager, with anything longer than a year in charge a bit of a bonus unless you’re immensely successful.
Fixing United will take time, but fans and the army of former players-turned-pundits will be impatient. Why not bring the joy back to watching the Red Devils by bringing in someone we all know isn’t intended to be *the* answer to all the club’s problems? Why not admit to taking half a season off from trying to get an identity back and just bring in someone to mix it up a bit?
There will be no perfect answer, but the healing can begin once United accept that and embrace the chaos. Sometimes it’s a crisis that presents us with the opportunity to change. Let’s see if anyone at United is ready to be big enough to admit that even a club of this size sometimes has to rip it all up and start again with something different.