Manchester United are currently meandering towards a state of decline and despair after two-and-a-half years of progress under the tutelage of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Norwegian tactician has done a huge amount of good work during his time in the Old Trafford dugout and has brought the club to within touching distance of its former glory.
But the phrase ‘so close yet so far’ couldn’t be more apt for the current state of affairs in the red half of Manchester.
A successful mass overhaul of the first-team squad, consecutive top-four finishes for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and the re-sowing of United’s DNA throughout the club are all tangible marks of Solskjaer’s success.
However, a second-place Premier League finish and a Europa League runners-up medal is all the 48-year-old has to show for his efforts so far.
This season was meant to be different, though. The 2021/22 campaign was meant to be where the excuses stopped, the re-building process ended and the major trophies started to return.
Yet it hasn’t worked out that way in the early stages of the season. In fact, things have gotten considerably worse for Solskjaer and United.
Bar an impressive showing in the curtain-raiser encounter against Leeds United, the Red Devils have failed to put in a convincing display in any of their subsequent fixtures, losing five games in all competitions by the end of October.
Ronaldo’s summer arrival has arguably brought as many questions as solutions, and the Scandinavian at the helm appears incapable of finding the remedy. But one man who may have the answers is Zinedine Zidane.
The former Real Madrid boss was rarely considered for a job in England as it was believed he was holding out for the role of France’s national team manager or Paris Saint-Germain as he looked to return to his homeland.
However, El Espanol (as relayed by The Express), recently reported that Zidane turned down the role of Newcastle United manager as he was waiting for either the Manchester United role or the two aforementioned jobs.
Over his two spells with Los Blancos, the Frenchman won an astonishing three Champions League crowns, two La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, two FIFA Club World Cups and two UEFA Super Cups.
The 49-year-old’s astounding achievements with Madrid earned praise from several plaudits, including for United and England defender Rio Ferdinand.
“The guy has incredible ability,” Ferdinand said. “He’s done it in a short time. He’s come in and collected trophy after trophy. Three Champions League titles as a coach? He’s phenomenal.
“He doesn’t have much to say, but he’s never had much to say as a player. He lets his football speak, and he’s doing the same as a coach.”
BT Sport pundit Steve McManaman was similarly effusive in his praise, saying: “He’s done an incredible job,” he said. “If he were any other coach, we’d be exhausted from applauding him.
“The fact that he’s so great, the fact he doesn’t want applause, the fact he’s nice and laid-back, people don’t think he’s a tactical genius, but he really is.”
Although some critics are yet to be convinced over Zidane’s credentials, his CV speaks for itself, and with bags of experience winning football’s most coveted prizes with a team full of superstars, United’s owners must consider his appointment if Solskjaer can’t turn things around in the weeks ahead. He stands a wonderful chance of getting Old Trafford rocking agin.