On the full-time whistle at Old Trafford a shell-shocked Manchester United Twitter admin could only muster one word – “Defeat” – after watching the team lose 5-0 at home to Liverpool. Defeat was an understatement: the result was a humiliation and one which Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described as his “darkest day” since taking over as manager in 2018.
The United fans inside the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday must have thought they were in a nightmare as Liverpool ran riot with four goals in the opening 45 minutes. And thousands had already headed for the exits before Mohamed Salah completed his hat-trick five minutes after the break.
There was a “sense of reckoning” about this Liverpool victory, said the BBC’s Phil McNulty. It was on “such a scale and such an embarrassment” that it means Solskjaer’s “sympathisers” will have an “even tougher job” claiming the Norwegian is up to the task of making United a serious force once again. As of Monday afternoon Solskjaer was still “at the wheel”, but he looked so far “out of his depth” that the question now is “how long will be allowed to stay at the wheel in the hope of finding a direction?”.
‘He will never be an elite coach’
Despite the dismantling by Liverpool, the Norwegian maintains the backing of the Old Trafford hierarchy, said Goal’s Charlotte Duncker. But where do Man Utd go from here? “As defeats go, a 5-0 humiliation at home to your fiercest rivals is as bad as it comes.”
The Red Devils need a new boss – the team has “no identity, no clue and no chance under his management”, said Samuel Luckhurst in the Manchester Evening News. Solskjaer was “always a stop-gap coach” and United need to put a stop to his reign. “He is incapable of competing against the elite coaches for he is not an elite coach and never will be. Jurgen Klopp schooled the pupil.”
Nobody should think Solskjaer is the only thing wrong at United, said The Guardian’s Jonathan Wilson. That he is not a manager at the same level, or anywhere close to the same level, as Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel is “obvious and always has been”, but he “has not been helped by those above him”.
Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville debated the future of the United head coach following the 5-0 humbling. Carragher believes United need someone to take them to the next level. “Unfortunately, Solskjaer is not Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola or Thomas Tuchel,” Carragher said. “It’s staring you in the face.”
Former United star Neville feels that the club will hold their nerve and they will sit with him until the end of the season. “There will be a massive outcry from fans and media that Ole should be sacked and I can understand that after that game,” Neville said. “It was a monstrously bad day and it takes some recovery from.”
Conte and Zidane linked
Not surprisingly, Solskjaer is odds-on favourite to be the next Premier League manager to get the sack. On Betfair he’s 1/5 to leave his job – the “shortest odds he’s ever been to head out of the Old Trafford exit door”, the Daily Mail reported.
If Solskjaer does get the sack, who could take over the Old Trafford hot seat? According to Oddschecker Antonio Conte, Zinedine Zidane, Brendan Rodgers, Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag are the main candidates.
Former Chelsea and Italy head coach Conte is reportedly open to becoming the next United manager – but only if the club demonstrates willingness to win the Champions League, the Daily Mirror reported. Ex-Real Madrid boss Zidane has long been linked with the United job. However, Spanish newspaper Marca said the Frenchman is a “wanted coach” and is attracting interest from several top clubs around Europe.