Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Nuno Espirito Santo go head-to-head

‘EL SACKICO!’: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Nuno Espirito Santo go head-to-head knowing the axe could fall on one of them after Manchester United’s crunch clash at Tottenham

  • Manchester United travel to Tottenham in desperate need of victory   
  • There is almost more interest around the managers than the match itself 
  • United are still reeling from a 5-0 defeat by fierce rivals Liverpool last weekend 
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Nuno Espirito Santo could be sacked with a big defeat

Manchester United go head-to-head with Tottenham on Saturday evening. However, the conversation surrounding the game has diverged from the football to the mangers. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Nuno Espirito Santo have been labelled as ticking time bombs after enduring a miserable run of form with their respective sides. 

Many TV pundits, former footballers and fans believe Saturday’s fixture at the Tottenham Stadium will the deciding factor as to whether these managers are given the boot or a reprieve. 

With so much riding on this weekend’s game, Sportsmail have analysed each manager’s journey up until this point and assessed just how damaging a defeat on Saturday evening will be.    


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (left) and Nuno Espirito Santo (right) are at risk of being sacked on Saturday

Ed Woodward has expressed unfaltering belief in Solskjaer’s managerial ability – having appointed him as the temporary Manchester United manager in 2018 and the full-time boss in 2019. 

Woodward even turned down the opportunity to replace Solskjaer with Mauricio Pochettino when the former Tottenham boss was relieved of his duties by Daniel Levy.

Some questioned his decision to disregard the man who had taken Tottenham to a Champions League final, but Woodward insisted Solskjaer was capable of bringing trophies to Manchester United.

Ed Woodward (above) has expressed nothing but belief in Solskjaer’s managerial ability – having appointed him as the temporary United manager in 2018 and the full-time boss in 2019

Woodward even turned down the opportunity to replace Solskjaer with Mauricio Pochettino (right) when the former Tottenham boss was relieved of his duties by Daniel Levy 

On paper, you would understand why Woodward has been so confident. Solskjaer amassed an impressive number of trophies as a natural winner throughout his playing career. He won six Premier League titles with Manchester United (including the Treble in 1998-1999 – winning the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup).

The former Red Devil also won the Community Shield with Manchester United on two occasions – back in 1996 and 2003. 

However, as a coach he has somewhat underachieved. Solskjaer’s biggest accomplishment to date as a manager came during his time in charge of Norwegian side Molde. 

The relatively inexperienced coach managed to win the Norwegian top-flight title during his time at the club. He also steered Molde to the Norwegian Cup. 

Solskjaer (left) amassed an impressive number of trophies throughout his playing career. He won six Premier League titles with Manchester United – including the Treble in 1998-1999

However, since being placed in charge of Manchester United, he has struggled for silverware

However, since being placed in temporary charge of Manchester United in 2018 and being appointed as the full-time manager in 2019, Solskjaer has struggled for silverware.

He managed to win the Lancashire Senior Cup and Manchester Senior Cup with the reserve side but he is yet to win a major trophy with the senior team. 

The closest he came to silverware was when he guided United to the Europa League final in the 2020-2021 campaign. However, United were out-thought and out-fought, eventually losing on penalties to Villarreal.

Nevertheless, Solskjaer has the third-best win percentage out of any Manchester United boss to date. He is only second to Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho.

Solskjaer has won more than half his 164 games in charge at the Premier League giants – trumping the likes of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal. He is also not far off Ferguson and Mourinho as it stands.

He managed to win the Norwegian top-flight title when he was in charge of Molde (above) 

However, Solskjaer is yet to win a major trophy with the Manchester United first team

Statistically, Ferguson won three in every five games his teams played – recording a 59.67 win percentage compared to Solskjaer’s 54.88. Ferguson also picked up 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions League trophies during his 26 years in charge of the Red Devils.

Mourinho’s statistics are also impressive – having recorded a win percentage of 58.33. However, such statistics don’t always help as the ‘Special One’ was still given the boot from Woodward and Co.

Everyone knows it’s trophies, records and big occasions that keep a manager in their job and as a result, Solskjaer could be at risk of losing his.

After taking over in December 2018 Solskjaer smashed records – but for the wrong reasons. United suffered their first home defeat by Cardiff City since 1954 under his tenure, they also endured their first defeat against Burnley since 1962 and recorded their first loss to Sheffield United since 1973.

Nevertheless, Solskjaer has the third-best managerial record out of any Manchester United boss to date. He is only second to Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho

Statistically, Ferguson won three in every five games his teams played – recording a 59.67 win percentage compared to Solskjaer’s 54.88. Ferguson also picked up 13 Premier League titles

Solskjaer also suffered a poor run of form in 2019 – managing to register just six league wins at Old Trafford during a nine-month period.

Nevertheless, he did manage to turn things around and even guided Manchester United to the top of the table at the start of the 2021-2022 campaign. 

However, United have now slumped back into terrible form – having taken one point from their last four games. 

Last weekend’s 5-0 hammering by fierce rivals Liverpool felt like a final nail in the coffin but he has been allowed once last chance to save his skin.  

As a result, Manchester United languish in 15th place in the Premier League with just seven points after six games. 

Mourinho’s statistics are also impressive – having recorded a win percentage of 58.33. However, such statistics don’t always help as the ‘Special One’ was still given the boot

Manchester United have also struggled to remain consistent under manager Solskjaer

Fans and TV pundits (outside of his former team-mates) have subsequently called for the United boss to be sacked, particularly given the challenging run of upcoming games, including Tottenham away, Manchester City and Chelsea.  

The Manchester United chiefs have remained silent amid growing speculation over the future of the manager. Such a decision does not appear positive considering they did the same just before sacking Mourinho.

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Nevertheless, Solskjaer has said he will not give up his role at Manchester United without a fight. Speaking after United’s loss to Liverpool he said: ‘I have come too far, we have come too far as a group,

‘We are too close to give up now. We know we are at rock-bottom. We can’t feel any worse than this. Let’s see where we take it. It’s not easy to say something apart from it is the darkest day I have had leading these players.’  

Man United languish in 15th place in the Premier League with just seven points after six games

Nuno Espirito Santo – Tottenham 

Tottenham were close to signing Paulo Fonseca before making a U-turn after the club’s supporters made their stance on the Italian manager known.

In a letter to Tottenham fans at the end of the season, the chairman Daniel Levy wrote that the board had ‘lost sight of some key priorities and what’s truly in our DNA’.

He added: ‘We are acutely aware of the need to select someone whose values reflect those of our great club and return to playing football with the style for which we are known — free-flowing, attacking and entertaining — while continuing to embrace our desire to see young players flourish from our academy alongside experienced talent.’

Therefore, Tottenham turned their attention to Nuno Espirito Santo. The Portuguese manager – who took charge of Wolves in 2017 – captured the attention of Levy, albeit as a choice way down his list. 

Tottenham were close to signing Paulo Fonseca (above) before making a U-turn after the club’s supporters made their stance on the Italian manager known

Therefore, Daniel Levy (right) turned his head to Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo

During his first season in charge, he won the Championship title. He then finished seventh with Wolves in consecutive Premier League campaign. 

Although, his final season in charge of the club was slightly more underwhelming – having finished 13th due to injuries and a lack of consistency.

Nevertheless, Levy was excited by the prospect of Nuno and was confident he had what it would take to turn the club around.

However, Nuno has endured a rollercoaster ride since taking charge of the north London club so far. Only a month ago, Tottenham sat at the top of the Premier League table – having won their first three games of the season.

Nuno also shocked onlookers when he beat Manchester City on the opening weekend of the Premier League – showing signs he was capable of rescuing a sinking team. 

Levy was impressed that Nuno (above) had guided Wolves to the Championship title and then helped them finish seventh in consecutive Premier League campaign

Nuno (above) has endured a rollercoaster ride since taking charge of the north London club

However, Nuno has been unable to maintain such form and Tottenham now look vulnerable at the back and flimsy in the middle. Spurs are also lacking creativity upfront and the usual firepower from Harry Kane is missing.

Many blame Nuno for Tottenham’s recent dip in form and statistically they would appear to be correct. Nuno has recorded a lower win percentage than his processors – Pochettino and Mourinho.

The former Wolves boss has only won 47 per cent of his games in charge. Whereas Pochettino won 54 per cent and Mourinho won 51 per cent. 

Mourinho also played a role in developing the prolific goal-scoring partnership between Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son. However, such chemistry has appeared to dwindle under the new boss. 

Not only is Nuno struggling offensively, he is struggling defensively. Spurs have managed to maintain just four clean sheets since he took the reins. As a result, his side have conceded a total of 20 goals so far. 

Only a month ago, Tottenham sat at the top of the 2021-2022 Premier League table

Now Tottenham look defensively weak, shaky in the midfielder and lethargic upfront 

Nuno also came under scrutiny for his decision to leave all 11 starters from Tottenham’s over Newcastle United at home for their midweek trip to Vitesse Arnhem.

He said the decision would leave his players feeling fresh for their Premier League fixture against West Ham. However, it proved to be a useless exercise as Tottenham recorded their fourth London derby defeat. 

Tottenham’s defeat to West Ham also proved to be a turning point for some fans. Nuno’s view on a match differed drastically from the supporters’ point of view.

The manager claimed his side were ‘the better team’ despite having no shots on goal in the second half. His exact words were: ‘We were the better team, honestly. I think we controlled the game, we had chances. We had possession’.  

Fans found his comments frustrating and laughable at the same time. Many questioned whether he was watching the same game, with one supporter Tweeting: ‘Is Nuno mad? Surely he wasn’t watching the same game I just did?’.  

Nuno must figure out how to get the best out of his players on Saturday or he could be sacked

Nuno will be under a lot of pressure to record a result against Manchester United on Saturday, though not to the same extent as Solskjaer. If Spurs collapse then the voices calling for the Portuguese’s head will grow ever louder. 

To make matters worse for Nuno, his track record against Solskjaer is not favourable. He has only managed to beat the Norwegian manager twice despite facing him eight times. 

Nuno has also lost three of his last four encounters with the Norwegian heading into Saturday’s fixture. If Nuno is unable to pull it out the bag, Tottenham could be ruthless and decide to move on.




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