Arsenal legend Michael Thomas has thrown a real curveball into the list of candidates to take over at Manchester United if the axe falls on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Solskjaer managed to steady the ship with a 3-0 win at Spurs over the weekend. While Cristiano Ronaldo got him out of jail with two gaols in the draw against Atalanta on Tuesday night. The Norwegian is not wholly out of the woods yet though, with the 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool still lingering.
United’s public stance has always been to back the former Molde coach.
However, in the wake of the heavy home defeat to Liverpool, Joel Glazer and managing director Richard Arnold discussed Solskjaer’s future.
The Guardian claimed executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and Arnold were keen for Solskjaer to stay. Sir Alex Ferguson also lended his support to the under-fire boss.
Woodward and Arnold are on the 12-person board, along with chief financial officer Cliff Baty, Robert Leitão, Manu Sawhney and John Hooks.
The board though were believed to be split over a decision to axe Solskjaer, who signed a new deal over the summer to keep him at the helm until 2024.
The decision was made to keep Solskjaer in situ, but just how long he stays there remains to be seen.
And Thomas, 54, thinks there are some very capable contenders waiting in the wings, including Luis Enrique.
“There is always Pochettino at PSG, and Zidane, who is currently on a break. One name I would also put strongly in the hat is Luis Enrique. He is a really top quality coach, and him going up against Pep and Klopp would be amazing to see,” Thomas told CaughtOffside.
“You never want to wish on a manager’s downfall. But United are not and haven’t been where they want to be for quite some time now. And that’s even with the massive investment they’ve been able to give to various managers since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
“Solskjaer hasn’t had an amazing start to the season. And I think if he fails to push the top three teams and win the FA Cup, you could see a lot of pressure building on him to be sacked.”
Enrique is currently the Spain national team’s coach. In June 2019, less than a year after taking over as Spain manager, Enrique announced he would be leaving for personal reasons.
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It was later revealed that his daughter Xana had contracted bone cancer. And two months later, aged nine, she sadly passed away.
Now back in the post, whether the 51-year-old would leave for Old Trafford remains to be seen.
Thomas does rate Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers though too.
He added: “I do think he is a manager that could thrive at a bigger club, with all respect to Leicester. They have been just short of the top for the last couple of years. I think a little more quality investments may have been able to really tilt the table.
“Whether he would consider managing at Man Utd is to be seen. But I definitely think he has all the capabilities to do so. Rodgers would be a good candidate but Conte surely would have been the preference.”