Antonio Conte would be open to discussing taking over at Manchester United if Ole Gunnar Solskjær were sacked, while it emerged on Monday that several players are questioning whether the Norwegian can take the team any further.
Several dressing-room sources have told the Guardian that Sunday’s 5-0 capitulation to Liverpool at Old Trafford has crystallised a lack of belief in Solskjær being a good enough manager for United. The 48-year-old is considered tactically underwhelming, while being well-liked by the squad and within the wider club.
United are thought to be seriously considering Solskjær’s future after taking one point from their past four Premier League games. Joel Glazer, who heads the American family’s ownership, resides in Florida, five hours behind the UK, so any decision may be taken later on Monday. The managing director, Richard Arnold, is understood to have cancelled all appointments on Monday to hold talks with Glazer.
Conte has not received any formal contact from United although it is believed he has been sounded out should a vacancy arise in the coming days. Although the Italian is reluctant to take up a position during a season, he would make an exception for United because he considers the club a special opportunity. The 52-year-old would want to understand United’s vision before committing.
Conte has been out of work since leaving Internazionale in May, having signed off his two seasons there with the Serie A title, the fourth in Italy of his career. Conte also claimed the Premier League in his opening campaign at Chelsea in 2016-17 and the FA Cup the following year.
Solskjær said after the Liverpool game that United had hit “rock bottom” on what he described as his “darkest day” with the team but insisted he would not quit. “I do believe in myself, I do believe that I am getting close to what I want with the club,” he said.
The defender Luke Shaw admitted such a result had been on the cards when it was put to him that players looked lost at times and he was asked whether that was on Solskjær. “I think it’s ourselves that we need to look at, first and foremost, in the mirror,” he told the Malaysian sports network Stadium Astro. “Are we doing everything right and preparing right for the games in ourselves? Of course we have the tactics and how the manager wants us to play, but I think at times we’re way too easy to play against.
“I think, for example, you look at the first goal, it can’t be possible that they can have sort of three running through in the first five minutes. We need to be more compact, we need to be better and we know that. I think also maybe we can say this result was coming. I think in past games where we’ve won, we haven’t been at our best and we know that.”