The second international break of the season provides club managers and their coaching staff with the opportunity to reflect on the opening eight Premier League games of the season.
For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United, it’s a case of coming to terms with their worst start to a league season for 30 years, and because of such a poor start, growing calls for him to be replaced as manager.
The chatter on social media says that it’s a case of “when” and not “if” the Norwegian is sacked, but United’s executive vice chairman Ed Woodward is unlikely to pull the trigger before the players report back to training next week.
It doesn’t get any easier for United supporters either, with their first game back after the international break against European champions and old rivals Liverpool, at Old Trafford.
Following the 1-0 defeat against Newcastle United in the Premier League last Sunday, Solskjaer described the game against the Merseysiders as the “perfect” one for his side to try and regain some much needed form.
But, with only six victories since the famous win against Paris Saint -Germain in the Champions League in March, and one of those coming against Rochdale on penalties, the debate about who could replace him has inevitably started.
So, who might it be? Tom McDermott explores some of the options…
The Italian is the bookies favourite, who according to certain journalists across Europe would jump at the chance to try and resuscitate England’s biggest club.
He’s also reportedly having at least two English lessons each day in preparation for his arrival, and would bring with him a more pragmatic style of play that is more comparable to Jose Mourinho than Pep Guardiola.
The Portuguese has been and gone through the doors at Old Trafford, which means Allegri is the next high profile available manager on the market.
It also means that other clubs will be interested and with uncertainty surrounding Real Madrid and possibly even Tottenham Hotspur, Woodward might have a fight on his hands in persuading him to join the red half of Manchester.
Fans rating: 8/10
Club rating: 8/10
Pochettino was heavily linked with the United job before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was named permanent manager last March.
It looked, at one point, like he was nailed-on for the job, but Solskjaer performed a miracle, Pochettino took Tottenham to the brink of Champions League glory, and the rest, as they say, is history. Until now.
Aside from his recent shaky patch, Pochettino has a track record of playing attacking football, developing young talent and when he’s allowed, making astute signings in the transfer market.
Daniel Levy would push for a fee for the Argentine but it’s unlikely to be as hefty as 12 months ago. Tottenham look like they need freshening up, and so do United. The question is, does Pochettino?
Fans rating: 7/10
Club rating: 8/10
The European football legend already has the “former United player” tag, having played under Sir Alex Ferguson, and won the Premier League title doing so.
He also enjoyed great success as manager of Paris Saint-Germain, but hasn’t managed a club since the Parisians in 2016.
If United are interested, they’ll have to move quickly. The French World Cup winner is one of the leading candidates to take over from Sylvinho as coach of Olympic Lyon, and is believed to have held talks with the French club on Tuesday about the job.
Like United, Lyon have had a torrid start to the season and sit in 14th position in Ligue 1, only a point clear of bottom team Metz, and have not won any of their last seven league matches, after two wins in the first two weeks of the season.
Is Blanc better getting back on the merry-go-round now, or perhaps a little like Allegri, biding his time and waiting for a “bigger” challenge.
Fans rating: 7/10
Club rating: 7/10
The former Liverpool manager took them to within a whisker of the Premier League title in 2014, and before joining current club Leicester City, performed superbly in charge of Celtic, breaking numerous records.
Excelling in the Scottish Premier League with Celtic and then guiding Leicester City into the top six, if he does it, is one thing, but being able to take United back towards the top table of European football is another challenge completely.
Rodgers has to go down as an outsider though because of his time at Liverpool.
Certain managers should never get the opportunity to manage United, and if you’ve spent time in charge of Liverpool, you probably fit into that category.
Fans rating: 2/10
Club rating: 4/10
Erik Ten Hag
One of the outsiders alongside Brendan Rodgers and the Old Trafford hot seat might be one step too many for the Ajax manager at this time.
He’s also been heavily tipped in the last few days as a replacement for Marco Silva at Everton should the Blues part company with the former Hull City and Watford manager.
Ten Hag led Ajax to the Eredivisie title and the KNVB Cup last campaign and was seconds away from reaching the Champions League final after losing a thrilling semi-final to Pochettino’s Tottenham.
One Dutch journalist told me that Ten Hag looks for “possession with a purpose” and expects his players to be “flexible” in their approach.
One successful season in Holland probably wouldn’t be enough to allow him to take the reigns at Old Trafford, but it would be interesting to see how he performed at Everton if he was given the opportunity there. Perhaps one to keep an eye on for the future.
Fans rating: 6/10
Club rating: 6/10