Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has flown to Norway for a short family break during the international break. When he gets back, he faces his most crucial period as manager of Manchester United.
The backing he has had to this point from the board has been extraordinary. The support and belief in him so firm that they have almost been loyal to a fault.
A run of four defeats and a draw from their past five home domestic games has left a bad taste in the mouth of fans who adore him, yet cannot bear to see their side embarrassed any further. The most ardent supporters of him are now starting to waver.
Champions League
Guardiola backs De Bruyne to 'show himself he's back' ahead of Leipzig clash
A DAY AGO
One league win in two months has seen them not only slip out of title contention but also fall six points behind third placed West Ham United, who are managed by David Moyes—the man who began the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era and was deemed not to be up to the task of leading them forward.
Slipping away from the Champions League positions while also failing to convince when playing in Europe’s elite competition has become a problem. Solskjaer faces Watford and Villarreal after this two week pause and the importance of the two games should not be under-played.
He is finally walking the plank. United are beginning the process of identifying a potential successor, in case his time finally comes to an end.
There is no obvious successor—United have had no plan or clear strategy for the next man. It’s a key reason Solskjaer is still in the job.

'We need to come out like a hurt animal v Watford - Solskjaer after United loss to City

Rodgers favourite to take over at United

The coach currently favourite to step in is Brendan Rodgers, and as details of that have begun to emerge, we have been looking into the situation to discover just how plausible it is that he could be the next man to step into the Manchester United dugout.
We have to begin by looking at his past, and it is six years since Rodgers left Liverpool. His links to Anfield remain one of the most troublesome factors in him ever taking over at Old Trafford, although some would argue that enough time has passed to make the switch possible.
There were some claims over the weekend that the Leicester City manager has already accepted an offer to become boss, yet sources close to United and the man himself have completely denied that is the case.
There is something brewing, though. Whispers around his emergence as a candidate have been growing and figures that have the opportunity to play down any chance of him coming in next are not quite doing so.
He is a candidate - and that is interesting because there are not many.
Now that Antonio Conte (the new Tottenham boss) and Zinedine Zidane (apparently not interested) have been removed from the running, United are searching for alternatives. A month ago they were the two names being touted inside the club as the go-to guys.

Antonio Conte and Harry Kane

Image credit: Getty Images

Now we seem to be looking at Ralf Rangnick, head of sports and development at Locomotiv Moscow but with a wealth of managerial experience, and Ajax boss Erik Ten Hag, who is considered to be one of the game's rising superstar coaches.
Mauricio Pochettino’s mega salary at Paris Saint-Germain makes him a difficult option to turn to, and other options are so few and far between that most bookmakers currently have Cristiano Ronaldo as fifth or sixth favourite for the job - ahead of men like Laurent Blanc and Roberto Martinez.
So it’s clear why Rodgers, a man with Premier League experience and recent silverware to his name, finds himself at the top of the list.
United are also aware he has a determination to manage one of the biggest clubs in the world again, and a reputation to show he might be able to do it.
Spells at Celtic and Leicester have helped him bounce back from losing his job at Liverpool, and there is a drive for him to take his next job at an elite club. There is no doubt he loves his role at Leicester and is thriving on the challenge of competing with the big boys. Yet deep down he wants to be one of the big boys - any source close to him admits that is the case.
We have to show respect for Leicester City amid all this.
They have no desire to lose Rodgers and would fight for every penny in compensation if they were to lose a battle to keep him. United struggled to get Harry Maguire from them and people close to Leicester are in little doubt a similar wrangle would happen again. Sealing a deal for him overnight would be extremely unlikely.
If this path is to be the one United proceed down then they need to be absolutely certain it is the right one. They can not afford to get it wrong - financially or in a results sense.
Solskjaer’s dragged-out reign has largely been based on the fact he has United DNA. The club is in his veins. His bond with supporters is deep. Everyone who knows him describes how nice he is and how desperate they are for him to do well.
Rodgers is not like that. He has no links to United. The opposite, in fact—a link to their arch rivals. Fans might give him a chance to win with them but would have no room for sentiment if things did not start well. But he is a strong personality who would have little problem making big calls, even if they are not the popular choice.

‘It’s been a difficult week’ - Solskjaer relieved after win at Tottenham

City see Rodgers as successor to Guardiola

Another major reason Rodgers will have doubts about the job is that there is a club across Manchester who also rate his qualities. City regard him as the perfect successor to Pep Guardiola and have not hidden that fact. Privately, there have been soundings to make sure Rodgers knows they have an eye on him. That push started a year ago.
Of course there are positives to taking the United job, though.
Rodgers has supreme confidence and would fancy his chances of winning the league with their current squad. His way with words would be able to convince doubters that his past at Liverpool is behind him. His focus to become part of the club’s history would be total. This is a man with a silver tongue and there is virtually nothing in the game he does not believe he is capable of achieving.

rodgers.jpg

Image credit: Eurosport

Yet why go to United now if you can take over this great City side soon instead? Guardiola is going nowhere just yet but at the end of next season, he probably will leave.
It’s a real predicament Rodgers may be faced with. Take United? Or wait and hope the City job really does come along.
The whole saga carries on, for now. Much like when United make a huge signing—see Maguire or Jadon Sancho—it seems there must be months and months of uncertainty and speculation ahead of a decision.
Solskjaer still has the chance to ensure they don’t have to make that choice. There are figures at United who would be happy for him to improve and see out this season.
Yet from what we have seen over the past two months, this is a sinking ship. Appointing former Liverpool boss Rodgers might be less of a gamble than letting this ride out.
Premier League
Late Fred goal gives Rangnick and Man Utd victory over Palace
05/12/2021 AT 13:01
Premier League
Maguire, Sancho, Ronaldo - Problems Rangnick must solve to save Man Utd's season
05/12/2021 AT 08:56