Antonio Conte ended up at Tottenham this week instead of Manchester United.
Tottenham acted quickly, quite possibly fearing United would end up moving for Conte if there is negative result against City this weekend.
So was Conte naive in jumping into bed with Tottenham instead of waiting a week, just to wait and see on United?
Italian reporter Roberto Gotta told TMW that interest from United was never strong enough to really lead Conte to to believe the possibility was serious.
He said: “I understand that he has been waiting until the last moment, United have a better squad and more decisive players. However, Manchester United has never publicly had little faith in Solskjaer. Perhaps also to reassure him [Solskjaer].”
United job an intense task
Gotta believes Conte has given himself some breathing room with the Spurs job, due to the intensity of the United job, had he waited for it and taken it.
He says: “In Manchester then, he certainly should have won immediately, while at Tottenham he will have more than half this year preparing the team for next season. For me he did well.”
It’s a perspective worth bearing in mind from Conte’s perspective. He will get more time to create his team at Spurs, while United’s may be better, it is not his team, and yet he would be judged as if it were, due to his previous quick successes in the past.
Tottenham were his second choice, and yet, as pointed out above, it might actually work out better for him.
There’s little doubt Conte was up for the United job, The Guardian reported he wanted it last week when it seemed to be available.
Most of the links between Conte and United came from the Italian press, but ultimately United were not swayed.
It could turn out to be a big call United regret, but in this precise moment, the club were not ready to give up on Solskjaer just yet.
Since the Liverpool defeat, Solskjaer has steadied the ship with a win over Spurs, and kept United at the top of the Champions League group with a win over Atalanta.
While Ronaldo’s brilliance bailed United out, there were also some big calls in that game from Solskjaer which paid off, which his detractors would have been quick to criticise him on if they backfired.
United probably do need better, eventually. And that time could come sooner rather than later.
But the lure of Conte did not grab United strongly enough. It could have been a misjudgement, with the club unaware the Tottenham situation would develop so quickly.
Either way, if United do move on from Solskjaer, the next coach has a big job on his hands.
A manager like Mauricio Pochettino or Erik Ten Hag, should they become available, will be given time.
Conte would have been expected to win instantly. Because that’s what he usually does.
It’s understandable that in hindsight, he may end up being pleased he chose Tottenham because there is less pressure, and because it is a club without a history of winning, it will not reflect badly on him if he fails, whereas at United, he would have been judged a failure had he come in for 18 months and left without winning silverware.
As for Solskjaer, he approaches another pivotal weekend against City where a poor result will spark more speculation over whether he survives the international break.
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