You cannot help but feel for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United at the moment as his stuttering revival hits more and more snags. It was not the season United fans had hoped for an even worse they are about to see Liverpool, more than likely, secure their first title in more than 30 years. However, the question remains will the hierarchy of Manchester United let the Norwegian go at the end of the season?
The arrival of Solskjaer was exactly what United needed in December 2018 when he took over from Jose Mourinho and the new manager bounce was incredible. Ole was at the wheel. He reinvigorated players and they were flowing with freedom as they were cruising past teams they were expected to cruise past and challenging sides higher up the table. It was all rosy. Then there was Paris.
Since the miraculous comeback against PSG, it has been downhill for and then uphill a bit and the drastically downhill again for Manchester United. Solskjaer signed a three year deal and it looks like he will not complete it.
There were signs of an overhaul at United in the summer to freshen up the squad with influential players leaving the club such as Alexis Sanchez, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling. However, the board only brought in three new players to replace the six first team players that departed.
This was also the case in the January transfer market when Ashley Young and Marcos Rojo were allowed to leave but only Bruno Fernandes (eventually) and surprise signing Odion Ighalo were brought in. United were crying out for reinforcements due to injury to Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay. This ultimately falls on Ed Woodward’s shoulders who has dithered around and overspent for years; three other managers struggled with him what makes you think that Solskjaer will be any different?
It was, and still is, clear that Manchester United needed another centre midfielder (if not two), striker, right winger and centre back but the board were unwilling to back Solskjaer to help Manchester United challenge once again. With the likely departure of Pogba, there needs to be some serious restructuring of this Manchester United squad and club set up.
The squad is clearly fatigued and struggling to compete on all levels with the lack of depth. In a more realistic thought the squad are not good enough. Players such as Andreas Pereira, Jesse Lingard and Phil Jones are not the quality Manchester United need. There could be an argument that players like Victor Lindelof, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Luke Shaw and Nemanja Matic are living on borrowed time.
However, as unlucky as Solskjaer has been with injuries and lack of movement in the transfer market, he has to take some responsibility for his in game decisions. The side are completely passive in attack, unable to break down sides that sit deep and fail from corner routines both offensively and defensively. If Solskjaer and his coaching staff cannot see that then they deserve to be shown the door.
The annoying fact for United fans is that they have seen Solskjaer’s side play with speed, passion and effectiveness when he was interim boss. They know they have the capability to play like that but Solskjaer might be out of his depth to find that form on a long term basis.
Having only previously managed Molde and Cardiff City, he has never managed a side that is the magnitude of Manchester United. He might understand the club and the way it should be at Old Trafford but to be the one to put that into place might be a step too far for him.
With managers such as Allegri and Pochettino available there will always be a dark shadow looming over Solskjaer to perform and ultimately you can see the board making a decision to see him relieved of his duties at the end of the season. However, if you see how far Manchester United are behind leaders and rivals Liverpool then the board should perhaps relive themselves of their duties at the end of the season.