Conte United

WINNERS AND LOSERS IF ANTONIO CONTE BECOMES MANAGER OF MANCHESTER UNITED

The pressure on OIe Gunnar Solskjaer has reached a deafening crescendo. A nosedive in results has left them 7th in the league, after crushing losses to Leicester City and Liverpool. The latter was inarguably one of the worst results in the club’s recent history, especially at home. Reportedly Conte is being lined up as Ole’s replacement at .

 

The individual fallacies of players coupled with no sense of tactical supremacy has left fans angry, disappointed and confused. The clamour for Solskjaer’s removal has been the highest it has ever been, especially considering the huge summer outlay is not producing the desired effect.

 

Though the manager extended his contract for a further three years a few months ago, is already being touted as the likeliest to take over if Solskjaer does indeed walk in the near future. The former Juventus, Chelsea and Inter coach has been a serial winner, famed for his incredible work-rate demands of players and getting the best out of the team on the pitch.

 

FootTheBall looks at winners and losers if Conte does indeed ends up replacing Ole at the helm of Manchester United.

 

WINNERS

The big bully striker who fights for every ball in and around the opposition’s penalty area, does not give up running and wants to get involved at every opportunity. Rings a bell? That is because Conte loves having them around. Mario Mandzukic, Diego Costa, Romelu Lukaku have all worked successfully with Conte, and now it could be the time of Cavani.

 

The veteran striker has largely had to be patient in behind , but the Portuguese’s work rate has been questioned quite a bit. Many are viewing the dismal defensive contributions of Ronaldo as being detrimental to the team, which would offer up avenues for Cavani. Even against Liverpool, Cavani had the same number of chances as Ronaldo (1) and Conte has a habit of turning around the striker’s fortunes in front of goal.

 

Though Solskjaer has been hesitant in dropping Ronaldo, expect Conte to have no such qualms in order to put his point across.

 

JADON SANCHO

One of the stories of United’s season so far has been Sancho’s ineffective play since returning to England. The former Borussia Dortmund winger has had no goal contributions in 11 appearances in all competitions. Moreover, he has only played 300 minutes in the Premier League (3/7 starts) and was left unused against Liverpool.

 

Conte has a record of utilising his wingers/wing-backs to full effect with the likes of Achraf Hakimi, Matteo Darmian, Victor Moses, Marcos Alonso, Stephan Lichsteiner, Pedro, Eden Hazard all flourishing under him. Solskjaer’s style of play has not had the desired effect and it was certainly not what everyone associated expected of him.

 

The proportion of star names in the squad need to be managed well by Conte, as Sancho is in competition with Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood. It will definitely be interesting to see where Conte inserts Sancho but the winger should be getting more sizable minutes in big matches.

 

THE DEFENCE

Something that is in need of a major overhaul, and maybe in personnel too. United have a solitary clean sheet in their past 21 games, which has largely earned them the tag of needing to concede in order to score. Their record at home is even starker with 13 consecutive matches of not shutting out the opposition in all competitions.

 

Furthermore, they have also made the least number of tackles in the league (104) and Conte will know he has a job on his hands. It is something he has done before as well. The 2016-17 league winning Chelsea allowed only 33 goals all season, while Inter let in 71 goals in 76 league games- the fewest in Serie A.

 

But the larger question remains- can Harry Maguire and/or Victor Lindelof show a marked upturn in form? The Englishman is having some shambolic performances of late while Raphael Varane is expected to take up Lindelof’s slot. What about Eric Bailly, does he deserve a look in at least? Can Conte help Luke Shaw find his form from last season? All these are pressing concerns that Conte will need to address and given his track record, he certainly will.

 

LOSERS

The French midfielder is one of the best players in the world on his day, as evidenced by his fiery form in the opening games. However, since then his position in the side has been something of a conundrum given the overload of players in every department. Pogba started the season on the left wing but with Rashford and Sancho returning, that is no longer an option.

 

Solskjaer deployed him in the midfield pivot which proved utterly ineffective. His preferred role of playing in behind the frontline has been occupied by Bruno Fernandes and more than justly. Conte’s arrival does not spell good news either as the Italian is famed for having little tolerance to petulance and flashy behaviour with poor work ethic.

 

If Conte does indeed go for a formation change to his preferred systems of 3-5-2 or 3-4-2-1, it will become a question of who gets left out. Pogba has been finding regular game time hard to come by, and the sending off against Liverpool hardly helped matters.

 

ANTHONY MARTIAL

It’s getting harder and harder to see how Martial fits into the stacked lineup upon his return from injury. He had a meek 2020-21 with just four goals and three assists in the league, and that form has continued into this campaign. He only saw 155 minutes of action till the beginning of October and he can expect to be back amongst the substitutes soon again.

 

Martial’s fall down the pecking order is unlikely to get reversed if Conte comes in at Manchester United. Simply put, there are too many better options in front of the Frenchman right now and in Conte’s habit of sticking with a core group of players- Martial will really need to do something incredible if he is to get back his starting role from 2019.

 

REST OF THE LEAGUE

Yes, the arrival of Conte will more than send a shiver down the competition’s spine. His blueprint of turning teams around from the throes of disaster is well-documented- Juventus’ rebuild under him in 2011, Chelsea winning the league after Jose Mourinho’s wreck of a title defence in 2016, and of course, Inter winning the Serie A after a decade in just Conte’s second year.

 

Closer to home, a similar change in fortune was detected with the Blues just this year after they brought in Thomas Tuchel to replace club legend Frank Lampard. Though there is certainly the matter of juggling egos and giving adequate game time to the many superstars, Conte’s no-nonsense attitude should help in more defined roles on the pitch for players and Manchester United will for sure become a harder team to beat.

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