After they slumped to a penalty shootout defeat on Wednesday night against Villareal. One thing has become abundantly clear Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not have the same killer instinct he once had during his playing career. At the top level he has once again been found wanting. A European trophy albeit in Uefa’s second competition may have been the catalyst for something great.
The over reliance on Fernandes and the lack of a plan B was there for all to see in the Europa League final. Having finally made it to a cup final of any sort one would be forgiven for thinking Ole would leave no stone unturned. Instead there was a hapless sense of impotence.
Solskjaer is a legend among the United fans for his winner at the nou camp in 1999 but this 26th May was very different. Villareal were extremely negative and looked to park the bus at times but United had no answer. Fernandes once again failed to turn up on the big occasion and Uniteds creative spark had gone.
The lost momentum of the past few performances in the premier league can’t have helped. You cannot expect anybody to be able to turn form on and off and United looked very out of sorts.
Scott Mctominay was a shining light for them in the game but he is not a long term route to success. Solskjaer’s X factor has gone, the ability he had to perform in the big moments as a player does not translate into his management style. I think it is very much time to look at other options.
If not Solskjaer, then who
If I was on the Red Devils board I would look no further than Antonio Conte. The exuberant italian has just left Inter Milan after leading them to their first scudetto since 2010. With a team filled with United ‘rejects’ as well. His only daliance in the premier league so far came at Chelsea where he won a trophy in each of his 2 seasons there. With a Premier league title already to his name and an uncanny knack of galvanising teams. He would surely be the perfect fit for a group of players that are struggling to find their winning touch.
Conte’s playing style would also suit the Manchester United way. Although he’s not an out and out risk taker like Fergie. He has an obsession with tactics that enables his teams to be both pragmatic and entertaining. While at Chelsea his side averaged 2 goals per game while also averaging less than one goal conceded.
His penchant for 3 at the back may sound negative but he always give his attacking players freedom. United don’t have the out and out brute up front that Conte mixes well with but he could be trusted to find him.
United’s current situation is that of a fallen giant accepting mediocrity as progress. A distant second place and a Europa League final is no sign of coming success. One of the biggest clubs on the planet needs a manager who can shoulder that responsibility. Antonio Conte provides that option and United must act fast to ensure that they capture him.