Manchester United are set to sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with Darren Fletcher poised to take temporary charge.
The Manchester Evening News understands club executives decided they must act now in the wake of the humiliating 4-1 defeat at on Saturday and technical director Fletcher could be in charge as soon as Tuesday’s penultimate Champions League group game at Villarreal. Fletcher is expected to be assisted by Michael Carrick.
Multiple sources have confirmed to the MEN tonight that United will sack Solskjaer and United are finalising the Norwegian’s compensation package of around £7.75million.
United have downplayed speculation linking Zinedine Zidane with the manager’s role and sources have suggested the Zidane links have been a tactic to appease an increasingly frustrated Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo played under Zidane at Real Madrid when they won three successive Champions Leagues between 2016 and 2018. Both left the club in the same summer.
Fletcher was in the United dugout for the Watford game, having previously observed matches from the directors’ box and the press box.
The timing of Solskjaer’s expected removal will raise further questions about the running of United by the club’s owners, the Glazer family, outgoing executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and his expected replacement, the managing director Richard Arnold.
United resisted sacking Solskjaer in the wake of the 5-0 drubbing by Liverpool on October 24 even though they had a six-day gap until their next match at Tottenham. United also decided against dismissing Solskjaer during the November international fortnight, a traditionally popular time for clubs to change managers.
Solskjaer apologised to the United supporters at full-time at Vicarage Road on Saturday but many loudly and specifically booed the Norwegian.
United, seventh in the table, have conceded 15 goals in their last four defeats to Watford, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Leicester. The 5-0 trouncing by Liverpool was their worst-ever home defeat to their biggest rivals.
The outgoing executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward nor any members of the Glazer family, who own the club, were in attendance for the Watford match. Managing director Richard Arnold, the would-be successor to Woodward, was also not present.
The United hierarchy has earmarked Brendan Rodgers as their preferred candidate, provisionally, although Leicester have taken 15 points from 12 games in the league this term.
Rodgers, 48, is under contract at Leicester until June 2023 and United would have to agree on a fee with Leicester to release Rodgers and pay compensation to Solskjaer for his dismissal.
United figures are impressed by Ajax coach Erik Ten Hag and the Spain coach Luis Enrique, but Rodgers has been provisionally identified as the most suitable successor to Solskjaer.