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EPL news 2021, Manchester United, Antonio Conte, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked latest, updates, next manager, reports



Manchester United are in crisis talks and they have some big decisions to make.

The first is whether to stick with a manager who has clearly hit his zenith, and has shown no evidence to suggest that more highs are on the horizon. The second is who to replace him with.

According to reports, Manchester United’s owners have been locked in talks about whether to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or not in the 24 hours following the moment the club hit “rock bottom” with the 5-0 home defeat to arch-rivals Liverpool.

They are still undecided on Solskjaer’s fate, having only handed him a brand new three-year contract at the end of last season and backed him further by handing his assistant Mike Phelan a new three-year deal just weeks ago.

Both David Moyes and Jose Mourinho were sacked 48 hours after losing in a Sunday kick-off game (UK time) so if a decision is to be taken, it will likely be made by Wednesday morning (AEDT).

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(Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)
(Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)Source: AFP





Given it’s so early into the season, a permanent manager will need to be found, rather than an interim one installed until the end of the season, as was what happened initially with Solskjaer.

And the name that is leading the way is that of former Chelsea and Internazionale manager Antonio Conte.

According to reports, Conte is open to becoming the new Manchester United manager, with Italian media suggesting contact has already been made with him from the club. He considers United a “special” club that he would be very interested in taking over and believes that he can be successful with the current squad of players.

He is usually reticent at taking a job when offered it in the middle of a season, but for a role like the one at Old Trafford, he would do it.

He is the best coach available to the club at the moment and has a long history of winning silverware, something United have not been able to do since 2017 when Jose Mourinho won the League Cup and the Europa League in the same season.

Conte first made his name at Juventus, the club he won five Serie A titles and a Champions League with as a player and one that he would go on to win three more Serie A title with as a manager. It’s the sort of pedigree as a former player that commands respect, like Solskjaer or Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid – an important trait in getting players immediately on your side.

He also ticks the Premier League experience box, winning a title in his first season at Chelsea with a revolutionary tactical masterclass of transforming out-of-favour players into starring wing-backs as he set a then record for the most consecutive league wins in a single season. He won 30 of 38 Premier League games that season – at the time another record.

Could Ole get the chop after HUGE loss? | 05:05

He then went and did the same at Inter, this time ending Juventus’ nine-year stranglehold on the Serie A title in his second season at the club, after finishing as runner-up in the league and the Europa League in his debut season.

Make no mistake, if you’re looking for an instant impact, Conte is your man.

His spell at Juventus coincided with the arrival of Paul Pogba and subsequently the most prolific period of the Frenchman’s career to date, where forged his reputation as one of the best midfielders in the world – one that he has clung onto since returning to Manchester United, without ever replicated the form that earned him it in the first place.

Conte was able to find his best position, something both Mourinho and Solskjaer have failed to do, and reaped the benefits of it. If United’s hierarchy want someone to persuade the World Cup winner to sign a new deal at the club, Conte is again your man.

But it’s not just Pogba he can rejuvenate. Jesse Lingard looks like he was born to play in a Conte team, while Donny van de Beek, who was nominated for the Ballon d’Or before joining United, is in desperate need of a fresh start like the ones the Italian gave the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Victor Moses, Ashley Young, Romelu Lukaku and many, many more.

He has the experience of successfully managing a club bursting with egos and players who have been reported as difficult to deal with in the past, including Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, Sanchez and Lukaku but to name a few.

However, Conte’s successes come with the acknowledgment that they’d don’t usually last very long and often end with relationships pushed all of the way to breaking point – with players and the board.

The Italian is said to want total control of the club if he agrees to take the reins at Manchester United, from training, to personnel, to transfers and everything else in between. He is very much a hands-on coach. And that has led to clashes in the past.

It’s why he left Inter just weeks after winning Serie A, as he feuded with the club’s board over transfer for the following season. It’s why he was also sacked as Chelsea manager shortly after winning the FA Cup in his second season, as he butted heads with star striker Diego Costa, leading to the player effectively going on strike for the first half of the season until a move to Atletico Madrid was eventually agreed.

United humiliated as Reds score 5! | 01:28

He is known for imposing strict diets and curfews on his players, who are given a very short leash to socialise on and is not afraid of pulling out the hairdryer in the ilk of Sir Alex Ferguson back in his heyday.

It is part of the reason his teams do so well initially, with an injection of fresh motivation and he puts blinkers on his players and points them in the direction of a trophy. But it’s also the reason that his longest spell at a club is just three seasons.

Conte averages less than two years in a job across his 15 years of managerial experience before exiting to find something new, a huge concern for a club like Manchester United who have buried their heads in the sand so deep in order to keep faith with Solskjaer in the hope he can build a dynasty in the face of all the evidence to the contrary.

Conte is a tactical mastermind who likes high-energy runners, things that has been a major criticism of Solskjaer’s tenure, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo in particular coming under fierce scrutiny for his lack of workrate off the ball, and he is not alone in that.

But for all the celebration around Ronaldo’s homecoming, would a highly commercially-minded Manchester United take the risk of upsetting their golden goose? The most marketable club in the world want to have the most marketable player in the world on the pitch at all times. The uproar when Conte would inevitably drop Ronaldo for not fitting into his system would not sit well with those who paid all that money to get him.

As Gary Neville put it, after spending three years of watching Solskjaer successfully completing a “cultural reset” after the toxic ending to the Mourinho era, they don’t want a “hitman” to come in and undo it all again.

Yellow not enough, Pogba sees RED | 00:31

Speaking on Sky Sports, Neville said: “They won’t bring a hitman in again. A hitman who comes in and does a job for two years. Conte’s available but I wouldn’t bring him to Manchester United. I wouldn’t bring him here now, I wouldn’t.

“I don’t think Antonio Conte is a fit for Manchester United. I don’t think he’s a fit. I might be wrong, they might bring him here tomorrow and I’d get behind him.

“We’ve seen a coach with a specific style like Louis Van Gaal didn’t work here. I’m not saying there isn’t a manager who can come to Manchester United and do well.”

Ultimately the biggest question Manchester United must answer is if, with Conte, the reward outweighs the risk. They’ve put short-term success ahead of a long-term vision before and it’s taken Solskjaer three years to fix it.

Yes, he could be the antidote to Manchester United’s current mess, but he could also become the poison that put Solskjaer there in the first place. Is it a gamble they’re willing to take again?

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