When Manchester United lost 5-0 to Liverpool last weekend, it was clear something needed to change. But here we are, eight days on, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains at the helm.
And their decision to not hijack Tottenham’s swoop for Antonio Conte speaks volumes about the current expectations, and main goals, amongst the Glazers.
Manchester United’s defeat to Liverpool was alarming.
After poor performances against Leicester, West Ham and Atalanta (amongst others), Solskjaer’s side were torn open time and time again.
When the Norwegian walked down the tunnel, clapping the fans who courteously cheered his name, he seemed a dead man walking.
Losing to Liverpool is always painful. But in this fashion? By conceding five goals at home? Dire.
Yet here we are, eight days on, and Solskjaer is fighting on. What’s more, he now seems to have come out the other side of this crisis.
Saturday’s 3-0 win over Tottenham saw the players respond. Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani, who both scored, were particularly majestic.
But, now, United stand to be the biggest losers.
Tottenham have today sacked Nuno Espirito Santo, bringing the axe crashing down after just four months in charge.
It was never going to work. Not with the Harry Kane situation, not given the fact Nuno was their ninth-choice manager in the first place.
And, now, Spurs are going big. They’re going for Conte.
Hiring him would send a big message to world football. That Tottenham are back, ambitious, determined to win the grandest trophies in the land.
And it speaks volumes about United that they’re willing to give their rivals a free run. The Red Devils are adamant Solskjaer is in charge – and things will stay that way.
There’s no denying the 48-year-old has improved the club. They have better players, better foundations to build on, than they did under Jose Mourinho.
But, under Solskjaer, United appear to have already peaked.
Obviously, they have the potential to turn things around. If all of their players are happy, and managed rightly, they can win the Premier League.
Yet the narrative under Solskjaer has been full of fine highs and dizzying lows.
And by sticking, rather than twisting, it shows the Glazers are willing to be content with fighting it out for the top four – instead of for the title.
Hiring Conte would show United are serious.
The Italian is, for all his faults, a serial winner.
He rebuilt Juventus, laying the foundations for the success they’d achieve under Massimiliano Allegri in the following years.
Conte won in difficult circumstances at Chelsea, claiming the Premier League and FA Cup trophies.
And he guided Inter Milan to the Scudetto, too, ending Juventus dominance of Italian football in the process.
That’s quite a CV. Certainly, one better than Cardiff and Molde – with all due respect to Solskjaer.
And United, by simply allowing this managerial appointment to happen, are showing their true colours.
Gone are the days where being the best meant being at Old Trafford.
And while sticking with Solskjaer shows some loyalty in football remains, this industry doesn’t reward the good guys.
Tottenham will now benefit. Under Conte, the sky’s the limit.
For United, they can be forgiven for fearing what another setback under Solskjaer would mean for them. With Conte off the market, and Zinedine Zidane not interested, it means more problems on the horizon should results continue to worsen.