Manchester United are keen to stand by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the immediate future despite enduring their worst ever start to a Premier League season, but are already considering potential candidates to replace the Norwegian.
The club have taken just nine points from eight Premier League games so far, while the run of wretched form stretches back to the closing stages of the 2018/19 campaign. Since early March, Solskjaer’s team have won just five of their last 23 games in all competitions.
United are to host Premier League leaders and fierce rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday - a team they already trail by 15 points - and it is a game that some have speculated will be Solskjaer’s last at the helm. Though even in heavy defeat, there is little to no danger that that will prove the case.
Solskjaer revealed in a recent interview that he needs no assurances from the club over his job security, and that he is planning to remain in charge for at least the duration of his three-year contract. Previous suggestions from the club have been that they are committed to a long-term plan with the Norwegian as manager, and Solskjaer has confirmed as such himself.
90min has learned that executive vice chairman Ed Woodward is frustrated with the current situation and poor results, but that United will keep faith in Solskjaer in the short-term as they have little desire to make another mid-season, temporary appointment. Solskjaer was just that when he took over as a caretaker after Jose Mourinho was sacked in December last year.
But while the United hierarchy don’t want to have to make a short-term change, that stance may alter if results remain poor. A decision on Solskjaer’s future, if necessary, could be made closer to the January transfer window in order to give the best chance of potential uplift in form, accompanied by signings to re-establish a feel-good factor in the fanbase.
Solskjaer is now embarking on a period where he has time - though more limited than some may think - to turn things around himself. But United have been forced into contingency planning and weighing up other managerial options given the poor performances and form - this United have failed to score more than one goal in any fixture since the 4-0 win over Chelsea on 11 August.
Former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has been heavily linked with the job, and has confirmed that he is trying to improve his currently 'poor' English. It's a detail that the Italian’s camp are happy to be made known as he throws his name into consideration for top jobs that could become available across Europe in the coming months.
Though while Allegri offers plenty of title-winning experience, there is a feeling at Old Trafford that the job now is for a different profile of coach given the current state and standing of the team.
RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann - a 32-year-old coach ifirstappointed as a Bundesliga boss at the age of 28 - has recently been linked as a potential successor to Solskjaer. There is initial interest on United's side given his recent record in top flight football at Hoffenheim, though he did only take control of his current side ahead of the current campaign.
United feel Nagelsmann is among a group of coaches who fit a profile that interests them - a perhaps less established, promising coach making a name for themselves for their own tactical innovations. Ajax's Erik ten Hag is also under consideration, even while Premier League rivals Everton are also interested in the Dutchman as a potential Marco Silva successor.
It has even been suggested that United are keeping their eyes open for a manager they can establish as "their own" Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp, two coaches who have been incredibly successful at Manchester City and Liverpool - United's two biggest rivals - in recent seasons.
In a similar vein, 90min understands that United have taken notice of Red Bull Salzburg coach Jesse Marsch in recent months, and are very impressed by the 45-year-old American.
Such a responsibility as a job in charge at Old Trafford might come too soon for him given Salzburg, whom he joined in June of this year, is his very first managerial role in Europe after earlier serving as an assistant for a year at RB Leipzig.
How far Salzburg go in the Champions League this season could be key to any approach. Already, the young Austrian side have impressed in Europe's elite competition and gave Liverpool a major scare in a recent 4-3 defeat.
Solskjaer has recently admitted he's happy with the changes United have made to their own recruitment policy, and even while a director of football has yet to be appointed, the club believe they now have the right structure in place. Any person appointed in the role would be expected to complement the current system, and while Solskjaer maintains he has the final say on signings, his removal would not necessarily change which players are targeted.