Sunday afternoon will see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United side face one of their most difficult assignments of the season as they host a swashbuckling Liverpool side at Old Trafford.
At present, there’s a startling difference between the north west giants, both on the pitch and on the bench.
Jurgen Klopp is everything that Solskjaer is not. Tactically astute, his Liverpool are, once again, brilliant to watch.
Solid in defence, devastating in attack, the form that the Reds are in is ominous for any of their rivals, whereas United appear heavily reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo getting them out of trouble.
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In many respects, the Red Devils seem to be a ship without a captain, coasting through games without a specific plan on how to win it. The impression is of a lack of process and ill thought out way of working. Games being won despite Solskjaer not because of him.
The Norwegian still has the backing of his paymasters for now, however, if there’s not a marked improvement, the board wouldn’t be doing their own jobs properly if they didn’t at least consider other candidates.
To that end, the hiring of Antonio Conte, a proven winner and with a temper to match Sir Alex Ferguson, is a no brainer. The Italian would seem to be keen too.
“I think there are two obvious candidates in terms of coaches who have achieved at the top level of the game, who are out of work and would be available to Manchester United without compensation fees,” Duncan Castles said on The Transfer Window Podcast, cited by the Daily Star.
“One is Zinedine Zidane and one is Antonio Conte. Conte’s position, I’m told, is that he is interested in the Manchester United job but not without restrictions.
“Antonio Conte, when he chooses his next club, wants a club where he can win the Champions League. He wants to demonstrate, he’s wanted to do it for a long time, that he is one of the very best coaches in world football.
“To do that he knows he has to win the Champions League, so Manchester United are interesting because of the squad they’ve got, because of their status and because of the resource that is behind them.”