With Manchester United just two points above the relegation zone following a 1-0 loss to lowly Newcastle, there are more question marks over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s position than ever.
Solskjaer’s United have gone eight away games without a win for the first time in their Premier League history, and their form since the comeback victory against PSG in March would see them relegated in four of the last 24 seasons.
With that being said, the once undisputed champions of England are at one the lowest points in their recent history.
The loss at St. James’ Park highlighted United’s distinct lack of penetration, as the travelling support were held witness to yet more pedestrian football.
One of the most frustrating things for the Red Devils’ faithful is the absence of any particular style being implemented – Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are renown for their possession football, while Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are masters of the ‘gegenpress’.
Obviously, these are teams much further on in their respective projects, but even in the early days of their manager’s reigns, there were glimpses of their individual styles.
Perhaps United need a manager who is not only more experienced than Solskjaer, but also one who possesses a distinct and proven style of play.
If Solskjaer is indeed shown the door in the coming weeks, there is a short but talented list of managers who could take the reins at Old Trafford.
Italian Massimiliano Allegri left Juventus at the end of last season, where he won five Serie A titles and four domestic cups’ in five years.
Allegri also managed to win the top Italian division with AC Milan in 2010, disproving the theory that his success came as a result of possessing the best squad in the league at Juventus.
The form of Juventus since former Chelsea manager Mauricio Sarri took over has also shown that the job isn’t as straightforward as Allegri made it look.
The Italian has experience of winning trophies at big clubs then, but one of the issues during his time in Turin was his rather pragmatic brand of football.
The fans weren’t always appreciative of Allegri’s style of play, and despite his hefty trophy haul, there was a large group of Juventus supporters who weren’t convinced by the 52-year-old.
Jose Mourinho’s short tenure at Old Trafford underlined the club’s lack of patience with defensive football, and United will be cautious to employ another manager in that mould.
A more entertaining option for United could be Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino – the Argentine guided Spurs to the Champions League final last year on a limited budget, but off-the-field issues have seemingly stalled their progress this season.
Pochettino was heavily linked with the United job before Solskjaer was eventually given the permanent role.
With Tottenham’s form stuttering, there is the chance of Pochettino could jump ship, or even be sacked if their poor run continues.
The former Espanyol and Southampton manager has transformed Tottenham into a dynamic and high-pressing outfit – without the luxury of a huge budget that he’d have at United.
If Pochettino could implement the same style at United, he could potentially end his long wait for a trophy in England.
The only issue with Pochettino is the lack of a ‘big club’ on his managerial CV, but surely after guiding Tottenham to the Champions League final he is ready to make the step up.
Another manager who could be ready to make the step up is Eddie Howe of Bournemouth.
Englishman Howe would be the riskiest appointment of the three, but after the work he has done on the south coast he undoubtedly deserves a shot at a big job.
After United invested heavily in British talent over the summer, an Englishman at the helm would fit the mould of the Red Devil’s long-term project.
Howe has guided Bournemouth from League Two to the Premier League, where they have become a staple club of the division.
Not only has he kept the Cherries in the league, but he has done it whilst playing an attractive brand of passing football – something that is very rarely achieved by bottom half teams.
There is a sense though that he has taken Bournemouth to the peak of their potential, and perhaps access to more talented players and a bigger budget that he’d have at United would take him to the next level on the managerial ladder.
The problem with Howe though is his inexperience at the top level – at just 41, would he be able to tame the egos that come with a club of United’s stature?
Howe would be a brave appointment, but it could be a gamble worth taking in their current situation.
Truth be told, there is no easy answer for United director Ed Woodward.
Does he go with Allegri’s success, Premier League-proven Pochettino or the youth and style of Howe? Or does he stick with Solskjaer, and give him more time to turn United around?
The issue for Woodward is how long he gives the Norwegian – because very soon, if results don’t improve, it will be Woodward’s neck on the line along with Solskjaer’s.