Manchester United have started their succession planning to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjær as manager, with Leicester City coach Brendan Rodgers their preferred candidate.
That Manchester Evening News understands that United have privately decided that a change of manager will be required following the morally crushing defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City.
It is still unclear when the club intends to fire Solskjær, as they are considering an arrival time for a replacement.
A senior club source has indicated that Solskjær can remain manager until the end of the season due to the lack of an easily available replacement. 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 Solskjær for his dismissal. Solskjær first signed a three-year contract in July.
United figures are impressed by Ajax coach Erik Ten Hag and Spanish coach Luis Enrique, but Rodgers has so far been identified as the most suitable successor to Solskjær.
Coincidentally, Rodgers Solskjær’s downward spiral started when Leicester beat United 4-2 in the league last month, and United’s only home win since was against Tottenham, who fired coach Nuno Espirito Santo two days later.
Rodgers joined Leicester from Celtic in February 2019 and the club won their first FA Cup in May. Leicester have finished the last two league seasons in fifth place and only miss one Champions League qualifier on the last day of each promotion.
Despite Leicester’s overwhelming start to the league season with five wins from 11 matches, Rodgers is considered a credible and progressive appointment by the United hierarchy. Leicester beat United 3-1 in the FA Cup quarter-finals in March and also won at Old Trafford in May.
United have conceded 11 goals in their last three defeats, and three of their four league losses this season have come at home. United have lost 21% of their matches at Old Trafford in the Premier League era under Solskjær, installed as permanent manager in March 2019.
Although United are top of their Champions League group on seven points, it is only due to their win over Villarreal, level on points and their next opponents next week. United smoked out of the League Cup to West Ham at the first hurdle in September.
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United had more attempts on goal on David de Gea’s goal than City goalkeeper Ederson in the derby, and Solskjær only survived the 5-0 home game from Liverpool last month as the club had not considered firing him before the game.
Despite passing Antonio Conte on in the wake of the Liverpool duo, United have launched a succession plan and may come under pressure to carry it out sooner rather than later. United are nine points behind league leaders Chelsea, with 27 games left to play, but Solskjær is almost certain to be responsible for the match at Watford on Saturday.