Down The Wings

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Manchester United Hierarchy Face Huge Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Decision

The Norweigian’s Position is well under threat. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Following a dismal defeat at the King Power Stadium at weekend, where Manchester United found themselves on the end of a 4-2 beating at the hands of Leicester City, conversations are being had amongst the Reds fanbase as to whether or not it is time for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be relieved of his duties in the Old Trafford hot seat.

An optimistic United fan will tell you that the defeat on Saturday was simply a blip in what could be a very good season for Solskjaer’s side; Mason Greenwood scored a belter from outside the area and Marcus Rashford bagged on his return to first-team action in a game where United, against a roaring atmosphere, were pipped in the final stages of a tight affair. Most fans, however, will tell you that this sort of result on the road has been a long time coming for the team; poor tactics and a bad call in team selection has been the story too many times during the Norwegian manager’s tenure and it will likely be 9 years without a Premier League title for fans come May 2022.

So often in recent times, fans are left blaming Fred’s bad passing and Scott McTominay’s poor ball progression as the reason for United’s failures on the pitch, yet that cannot be the explanation against the Foxes, with neither player in the starting team. On countless occasions where the manager has been hanging on a thread, the players have pulled out a set of results worthy of keeping Solskjaer in a job, but the defeat against Leicester signaled perhaps a changing of the narrative in the club.

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The ‘Ole out’ force is becoming much greater than the ‘Ole in’ force. With fans having a greater say in the modern age of social media, this is bad news for the coaching setup at Old Trafford. You only have to look at the comments section of an official Manchester United Instagram post to gather the general consensus amongst the fans in regard to their thoughts on the manager.

The current situation is relatable to that of Chelsea only a matter of 12 months ago. The Blues boss at the time, Frank Lampard, was an inexperienced manager who was often under fire for poor decision making at the highest level, arguably incapable of managing the abundance of talent at his disposal. Roman Abramovich did what he does best and relieved the manager of his duties, appointing Thomas Tuchel. Low and behold, Chelsea were European champions come the end of the season. Lots of fans feel like Zinedine Zidane could be United’s own Thomas Tuchel to get the best out of a superb set of players at Old Trafford.

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Zidane, 49, would be a very popular appointment around Manchester, yet it could credibly be said that Louis van Gaal was also a popular appointment, as was Jose Mourinho. Solskjaer was the most popular of the lot. Would United fans be better off focusing their negativity towards forcing out the ownership, as opposed to repeating the managerial cycle? I for one think so. If Solskjaer is not the man for the job, which does look likely based off evidence, would it not sit better with fans if competent people made that call who had the club’s best interests at heart, instead of money-motivated men who prefer Twitter interactions to Premier League points? The protests that got the game called off earlier in the year were nothing short of refreshing at the time of the Super League controversy, and it is a shame that the fire fizzled out. That spark could very well be reignited, though, as every United fan knows the true rotten issue in the club, and it isn’t Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Looking at it from the perspective of the Glazers, it has to be said that unless results turn sour in the next weeks, Solskjaer will likely be in a job for a whole lot longer. Having gotten the job as a bit of a nobody in the managerial world, the Norwegian boss will forever be indebted to the owners who gave him his dream job. Solskjaer doesn’t have the managerial pedigree to demand off the Glazers, and the fact that some fans will blindly support him because of his legendary status means that he is the perfect man for the owners to have in place. Ole is the buffer between the fans and the owners; to get to the owners, fans have to get at Ole first, and many cannot break down that barrier through fear of being disloyal to a legend. Whether that is right or wrong is a whole other debate, but it is undoubtably a reality. In the last days, sources close to the club have reinstated that the club are 100% behind the manager and they have no intention of contacting replacements, as per Fabrizio Romano.

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A man under pressure, the manager is likely to start playing even more pragmatically to grind out results, especially considering the quality of opposition that the team are set to face in the coming weeks. Solskjaer opts to play in a way that relies on individual moments of brilliance, and he will be praying that those moments come more frequently in the next games, as he will know better than anyone that he needs them now more than ever. Obviously, this won’t be sustainable in the long term, yet from the manager’s perspective, he will feel that getting through these next games is critical. If he can do that with negative football and moments of brilliance, so be it.

Murmurs of discontent have been emerging from the training ground. A few weeks ago, it was leaked that the players were well aware that they know they are not being coached to the level they should be by Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna, despite the fact they are good guys. Squad players such as Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek and Diogo Dalot will be growingly agitated at their lack of game time. Even Ole’s golden boy, Marcus Rashford, is rumored to be upset with the manager’s recent comments regarding his off-field work.

When considering the mindset of the fans, the owners, the players and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer himself, one thing is for certain- that the manager is under immense pressure to resurrect United’s season with some results. With Atalanta on Wednesday and Liverpool on Sunday, there could be a vacant manager’s position in a matter of 7 days’ time if the players down tools. Time will ultimately tell, as ever in Ole’s tenure. Whenever his back is against the wall, he always comes out unscathed, but we could very well be in the end game of Solskjaer’s managerial tenure.

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