Manchester United are still expected to have Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in charge for Saturday’s Premier League match with Watford. However, links to Zinedine Zidane are gaining strength ahead of that showdown. And, should the Red Devils wield the axe this week, the 49-year-old could be in the dugout for the contest at Vicarage Road.
Manchester United have been stuck in a rut under Solskjaer in recent weeks.
They’ve lost six of their last 12 matches across all competitions, including humblings to Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester City during that time.
And with United toiling, talk of Zidane has gathered momentum.
The 49-year-old is currently a free agent after leaving Real Madrid for a second time back in the summer, having seen his relationship with Florentino Perez crumble.
And with the Manchester Evening News saying United ‘may change’ their stance on Solskjaer, who currently has the backing of some board members, a managerial switch could be on the cards.
Zidane, during his time at Real Madrid, often went with a 4-3-3 formation.
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And if he’s in the dugout for the match with Watford on Saturday, it’s feasible he’ll go with that system.
Should that happen, and we’re speculating here, David De Gea would likely keep his place in goal.
The Spain international has been a shining light for United this term, bouncing back after making too many mistakes last time out.
And despite Dean Henderson waiting in the wings, Zidane would likely go with De Gea’s experience.
With four at the back, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw could start either side of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.
The match is expected to come too soon for Raphael Varane, who is continuing to recover from injury.
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In midfield, Fred could act as the anchorman.
But with Paul Pogba injured, Zidane may do what Solskjaer hasn’t done by picking Donny van de Beek.
Zidane wanted to land the Netherlands international during his time at Real, only for Florentino Perez to refuse to stump up funds.
Van de Beek is yet to make a start for United in the Premier League this term.
But Zidane could throw him into the mix in order to ensure he gets a result right away.
Should the Frenchman take charge, Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford would potentially make up his frontline.
Sancho has toiled under Solskjaer, with the former Borussia Dortmund star yet to score or assist in the Premier League this season.
Yet given Zidane wanted him at Madrid, like Van de Beek, he could experience an upturn in form and fortune under somebody else.
Ronaldo played under the 49-year-old in Spain and is the one true undroppable in this current United side.
And, on the left, Rashford has scored three times since returning from injury – meaning he warrants a place in the side.
Meanwhile, Andy Cole has defended Solskjaer amid the links to Zidane – insisting he’s done a good job.
“The flak that Ole gets disappoints me,” he said. “I don’t think any manager should take that kind of flak; whether it’s United or non-league.
“I think they are trying to work to the best of their ability. He’s trying like everybody else who tried previously.
“Whether he is my ex-team-mate or not, even if it was someone I didn’t know, I wouldn’t like people to talk about them like that.
“But I don’t like it because when I played with him I got on very well with him. To see him in this position now doesn’t sit well with me.
“We all want Manchester United to be back where they were, but that takes time. We can talk about ‘how much longer?’ But the previous managers have found themselves in the same position. The stick that Ole takes is, at times, not nice.
“Things are never going to be easy for a club like Manchester United. To succeed Sir Alex Ferguson was always going to be difficult for whichever manager takes over – and what are we now, four managers in? And we are still talking about United not being in the position they would like to be.
“But other teams have got to move forward. Look how long it took Liverpool to win the league. I’m not saying United are going to be in that position, but you can’t be kept by history. Manchester United have to get stronger as a team and go from there.
“United are four managers in; all the managers that have gone before have done a good job as well. Unfortunately they have not been able to get them back to where they were.”