Manchester United are on the verge of sacking their fourth manager in just seven years as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer clings to his position.
The under-fire Norwegian has been given three games to save his job before November’s international break, starting against Tottenham on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Sir Alex Ferguson reportedly urged United’s board to give Solskjaer the chance to make amends for Sunday’s disastrous 5-0 defeat against fierce rivals Liverpool.
But poor results against Spurs (A) and Atalanta (A) before a daunting home game against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on November 6 will almost certainly spell the end of Solskjaer’s three-year tenure.
Italian coach Antonio Conte is keen on the job but would want reassurances from United’s hierarchy first.
However, it’s understood that board members at Old Trafford are split on Conte, who most recently managed Inter Milan.
Regardless of whether United’s next coach is Conte, Mauricio Pochettino, Brendan Rodgers, Erik ten Hag or another highly-rated manager, work needs to be done on overhauling the squad in 2022.
We’ve had a crack at ranking United’s currently squad into five different categories, starting with ‘Keep at all costs’ and ending with ‘Time to go’.
Keep at all costs
Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, Raphael Varane.
Although their recent form has been patchy, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood have both been outstanding for United over the past couple of seasons and must be kept at all costs.
As for Raphael Varane, we all know about the 28-year-old’s quality. It won’t be long before the Frenchman flourishes at Old Trafford.
Deserves to stay
David de Gea, Harry Maguire, Jadon Sancho, Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba.
Eyebrows will be raised about the decision to include Harry Maguire and Paul Pogba in the ‘Deserves to stay’ category and understandably so. However, we all know that Maguire’s a top centre-back on his day – just look at his performances for England in the last two major tournaments – while Pogba’s world-class quality isn’t in doubt.
That said, there’s no denying that both players need to step up over the coming weeks and months in order to rescue United’s season.
Similarly, Luke Shaw needs to do better after an unconvincing start to the campaign but is undoubtedly one of the world’s best left-backs.
Jadon Sancho has endured a difficult start to life back in Manchester but is a huge talent, while Marcus Rashford, David de Gea and Scott McTominay, who is sometimes unfairly criticised, are all good first-team players.
Worth holding on to
Cristiano Ronaldo, Axel Tuanzebe, Edinson Cavani, Dean Henderson, Donny van de Beek, Jesse Lingard, Tom Heaton.
If Cristiano Ronaldo can accept not starting every week, then he’s certainly worth keeping next season. The same can be said of Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Dean Henderson, Tom Heaton and Axel Tuanzebe.
As for Donny van de Beek, the Dutch midfielder must be given a fair crack of the whip before he’s offloaded.
Hannibal Mejbri, Amad Diallo, Anthony Elanga, Brandon Williams, Facundo Pellistri, James Garner, Shola Shoretire, Tahith Chong, Teden Mengi.
United have some serious talent in their youth ranks, particularly Hannibal Mejbri, Amad Diallo, Shola Shoretire and Teden Mengi.
Brandon Williams faces a tough season on loan at Norwich City but the 21-year-old has the potential to become a decent left-back option at Old Trafford.
Must do better
Alex Telles, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka needs to improve both defensively and going forward in order to save his United career, while there are also big question marks over the other four defenders listed for various reasons.
Time to go
Fred, Andreas Pereira, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Lee Grant, Nemanja Matic, Phil Jones.
United fans will be sad to see a couple of these players leave Old Trafford in 2022, but there’s some deadwood here that the club must shift in order to improve the squad.
Andreas Pereira turns 26 in January and isn’t going to make the grade at the Theatre of Dreams, Anthony Martial finds himself in last chance saloon but needs to be sold, Juan Mata is a lovely guy but no longer capable of performing at the highest level, Nemanja Matic is a throwback from the Jose Mourinho era, while Phil Jones is sadly too injury-prone to consider persevering with.
As for Lee Grant, aside from having his uses in training and being a good makeshift fourth official, what does the 38-year-old actually do?