Manchester United, as things stand, are stuck in a rut under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. And though the board have stressed his job is safe, history suggests that isn’t necessarily true. Now, in Erik Ten Hag, they have a new replacement to consider on a night of frantic Champions League action.
It was some evening of European action.
Manchester City bounced back from their defeat to Paris Saint-Germain last time out by thumping Club Brugge 5-1 in Belgium.
Sporting Lisbon hammered Besiktas 4-1, while PSG survived an almighty scare to get the better of RB Leipzig.
Liverpool warmed up for Sunday’s showdown with United by beating Atletico Madrid 3-2, with Mohamed Salah scoring twice.
Porto and Inter Milan picked up victories over AC Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk respectively, while Inter Milan blitzed Sheriff.
And, in Amsterdam, Ajax sprung arguably the biggest surprise of the entire round.
THINK YOU KNOW SPORT? Test your sporting knowledge with our tricky quiz
Ten Hag’s side were too strong for Dortmund, running riot in a performance brimming with attacking intent.
Not even Erling Haaland could stop the Bundesliga side from crashing to defeat, with Sebastian Haller stealing the show instead.
Haller scored his sixth goal of the competition in the closing stages after a Marco Reus own goal, Daley Blind strike and goal from Antony had them soaring.
And that now gives United something to ponder.
Right now, the board are adamant Solskjaer won’t be sacked.
But the brutal truth of the matter is that, if results continue to worsen at Old Trafford, the club legend’s spell in charge will be no more.
Ronaldo may block Man Utd from hiring Conte
Conte’s comments on Tottenham job with Nuno under fire
Latest Guendouzi antics show Arsenal were right to sell
At the current moment in time, both Zinedine Zidane and Antonio Conte are being linked.
Zidane is a free agent after leaving Real Madrid for a second time back in the summer, having failed to win La Liga.
And Conte is also on the market after choosing to leave his post at Inter Milan, shortly after their Serie A title triumph.
But Ten Hag is another who now deserves considering.
The Dutchman snubbed Tottenham back in the summer to rebuild Ajax, who have lost established players such as Frenkie De Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Donny van de Beek in recent years.
At the time, some accused him of taking the safe route. But rebuilding a team who sell their best players is no easy task.
But, over two years on from their stunning surge to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2019, Ten Hag has been vindicated.
With astute coaching, and an attacking style, he now has the Eredivisie side looking formidable again.
And with United needing to change things, Ten Hag could be the way to go.
It would be a gamble. Especially with Conte and Zidane available, meaning they wouldn’t have to pay a fee to acquire their services.
But Ten Hag’s fantastic work at Ajax makes him worthy of consideration, with the Dutch side top of their group with three wins from three.
With 11 goals to their name, they’re the joint top-scorers in the competition with Manchester City and Liverpool.
And given they’re the teams United are aspiring to beat, they could certainly do a lot worse.
For now, Solskjaer will continue to lead the team.
But if United do plan on making a change, then Ten Hag has done enough to earn a shot at one of the biggest jobs in the world.