The decision to part ways with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was dragged out as power figures at Manchester United allowed their crisis to extend beyond the point almost any other major club would have accepted.
But this is a complicated time at Old Trafford, with so many decision-makers at the club; thus the job of finding a successor and planning the next stages in the design of this team are even more complex.
There current decision-makers are: executive co-chairmen Avram and Joel Glazer, Ed Woodward - who is preparing to leave as executive vice-chairman - and Richard Arnold, the current group managing director who will, eventually, replace Woodward.
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There is also John Murtough as football director and Darren Fletcher as technical director. Then there is Matt Judge, director of football communications. And also Sir Alex Ferguson, a voice that still commands much respect and authority on major moments, such as Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent return.
No succession plan was ever in place for this moment in replacing Solskjaer and individuals will have preferred options in how they see the future.
Yet, getting it right is imperative, even though we are already learning it will be drawn out - just as Solskjaer’s departure was. The club are going to appoint an interim manager while waiting for the ultimate candidate to emerge.
Michael Carrick, in charge for the time being as caretaker, does not yet know how long he will be at the helm. It’s all pretty odd but United are not putting any real time frame on this decision. It’s a very delicate matter and one they really cannot afford to get wrong.
The caretaker stance is due to the fact that the men they view as best-equipped to take over on a permanent basis are not yet attainable.
Mauricio Pochettino has been a long-term favourite and is Ferguson’s ideal man, but he does not seem gettable while Paris Saint-Germain and their cast of superstars push for Champions League success.
Zinedine Zidane has always been admired by many at the club both as a player and a boss - because of his brilliance and winning mentality. He is available but has reservations about taking the job.
We revealed how Leicester City’s Brendan Rodgers has emerged as a man who they feel could quickly improve almost every aspect of the playing squad, and he remains a candidate. Sources suggest he would prefer to wait until the end of the season.

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Lingard set to stay as Sancho and Van de Beek eye 'fresh start'

For fans there will be relief that things are changing, yet still there remains no clear plan. Yet this uncertainty might actually help some of the current playing squad and there are transfer situations that are now going to be determined by how this all plays out.
In terms of outgoings some things won’t change. It is still expected that goalkeeper Dean Henderson will be allowed to leave the club on loan, for example. Likewise, Phil Jones can weigh up offers from other clubs.
Things could change for Jesse Lingard though, as sources close to the attacking midfielder now describe this as an unexpected final chance to prove himself as a United player. The club are offering him a new one-year contract but he has not been willing to sign it for the fact he has played just 63 minutes of Premier League football this season.
Solskjaer clearly did not trust him but there may now be fresh opportunity. When chances come along he will give his all to take them and stay in the team. He knows other clubs are interested and a January move can open up, yet that will be put on the back burner for the next few weeks as he focuses on a key moment in his career.

Donny van de Beek and Jadon Sancho of Manchester United in action during a first team training session at Carrington Training Ground on August 13, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Image credit: Getty Images

Another man who will relish the fresh start is Jadon Sancho. Things had been going so badly for him that former club Borussia Dortmund have been considering a loan offer to take him back so he can rediscover his form and confidence.
Sancho finally started against Watford at the weekend and while that is a game he will not remember fondly, it could be the moment his career at United truly begins. The club are not open to offers and remain adamant they will not regret the investment they have made in him.
And too Donny Van de Beek will begin again. His goal at Watford was the only bright light of a dark afternoon and it should signal the beginning of better times. Recently he changed agents and has been waiting for offers on a new challenge. Already those conversations will be falling quiet as he takes new motivation from this mess.

Rice still on the radar

Lingard, Sancho and van de Beek could yet become the poster boys of a new United front as we wait to discover who the club view as the next manager that can lead them to greatness.
Beyond this there is going to be focus too on how they attack the transfer windows in 2022. January was always expected to be slow anyway but it will be interesting to see how they plot for summer business if the hunt for a new manager truly does drag on to the end of the campaign.
It is thought by sources that Declan Rice might yet re-emerge as a genuine focus of next summer, so that could be something to look out for.
But with so much to happen between now and then, little progress will be made in the next few months while internal issues are tidied up.
Times are changing at United - but getting rid of Solskjaer was the easy part.
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