Manchester United are willing to give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer more time to turn things around, but that doesn’t mean they’re not planning ahead if they do part ways with the manager.
The Norwegian is in the firing line after Liverpool embarrassed the Red Devils on Sunday with a 5-0 victory on their home turf.
It was reported that the Old Trafford hierarchy were considering sacking him, but opted to give him more time to revive his career as Man United boss.
But they have lined up a succession plan if it does go south for Solskjaer as Antonio Conte has emerged as their number one target.
The Italian is reportedly interested in his position and has already planned his first signing if he is appointed despite initial concerns over how much power he’d be handed.
The former Chelsea boss is keen on reuniting with Inter Milan defender Stefan de Vrij due to United’s well-documented issues in defence.
The 29-year-old was a mainstay for Inter last season as Conte guided them to the Serie A title, ending Juventus’ nine-year reign.
And the 52-year-old rates de Vrij very highly: “Stefan, like Bonucci, becomes an important player because they [the opposition] must inevitably leave him room. Stefan is doing well.
De Vrij also revealed the impact of Conte on the unity of the Inter squad en route to the Scudetto.
He said: “Conte transmits his passion and desire to win, the group is united thanks to the coach.
“We didn’t start the season very well for some reasons. Then we realized what had to change, we became more united. Each tries to help the other, we have the winning spirit. So the results have improved.”
Dimitar Berbatov reckons United might have shown faith in Solskjaer after the weekend’s horror result, but is sure his former club will be preparing for the possibility that they might need to sack him and find a replacement.
He said: “We have to look at the bigger picture and there are a lot more games to come, if they don’t win the next couple of matches then Ole is going to be in major trouble.
“I have read the latest reports saying that his job is secure for now, but if he loses the next couple then he is going to have a difficult time justifying his position and I won’t be surprised if they have already started looking for someone to speak to in case he loses the next couple of matches.”