Gary Neville remains uncertain as to whether Manchester United should appoint Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as full-time manager.
Caretaker manager only a month, the Norwegian is already up for the Premier League Manager of the Month award for January. Burnley’s Sean Dyche and newly appointed Southampton manager Ralph Hassenhuttl are also in contention for the award.
No United manager has won the award since Sir Alex Ferguson in October 2012, so it will be another milestone to swing in Solskjaer’s way, possibly edging him closer to landing the manager’s job permanently beyond this season.
But there’s a lot of work to do between now and the end of the season. United are in with a chance of finishing in the top four, an objective that seemed impossible a month ago, and the board will be expecting Solskjaer to challenge for the FA Cup and possibly eliminate Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League to fully consider him for the most wanted position in football.
However, Neville admits a part of him does not want United to make an emotional decision on Solskjaer’s future at the club.
“I do have conflicting views,” Neville told The Telegraph. “Personally I would want him [Solskjaer] to have a shot at the job he’s got now. But on the other hand I want the club to make an unemotional decision – ‘Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the best person for the job?’
“If the answer is ‘yes’ at the end of the season because he’s got them into the top four and they’ve won the FA Cup, you’d say, ‘How can you not give him the job?’
“I’m not going to change from this. I said United should go for the best off-the-pitch football brain in the world and the best head coach in the world they can get.
“And if that’s Ole at the end of the season… I go back to that Pochettino always was the one who stood out for me as the one, in terms of the football, values and bringing through young players, like what he’s done at Tottenham and Southampton. Over a period of time it feels to me like he would be the natural choice.
“However, you look at what [Vicente] Del Bosque did at Real Madrid when he picked up the team, or like what [Roberto] Di Matteo did in that six months at Chelsea. It feels like what Ole’s doing, like he’s having that sort of time now.”
Neville adds that United’s win over Spurs in the Premier League was the moment that saw Solskjaer become a serious contender for the job.
“The win over Spurs changed my thinking a little bit,” Neville said. “He [Solskjaer] got it right and in the first half won the tactical battle.
“Yes, in the second half David De Gea made a lot of saves, and Tottenham should probably have equalised, but in the first half he went to a diamond with split strikers. It was a risk and I’ve not seen United do that in any game in the last two to three years. So he introduced a new system, a new shape and a new way of playing in his biggest match.
“He did what Manchester United managers should do – he took risks to win and he went for it. I thought it was a big moment that, for Ole.”