Manchester United are in chaos. Six points adrift of the top four, exit from the Carabao Cup, Europa League football. Fans are more frustrated but also more divided than ever before. The club everyone loved to hate and envied is now a laughing stock. There is obvious opposition to the Glazer ownership. They continue to milk the gargantuan commercial machine the United brand has become without showing the ambition to match the status of arguably the world’s biggest club. Ed Woodward’s apparent lack of football knowledge has stifled the squad’s rebuild. However, although problems stem from the top, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to be sacked. Plain and simple, he’s a novice.
The Burnley defeat wouldn’t have helped things.
Interim hero to permanent zero
The Red Devils legend has been ‘at the wheel’ for over a year now. Oh how that chant has aged badly. One year into the job and it still seems like he’s learning and only an interim. I’ve just never had that feeling Solskjaer is actually managing England’s most successful club. He just seems like that nice guy who knows he’s lucky and is grateful to be managing a club far too big for him. But football is a cutthroat business and in terms of results, the Norwegian should’ve been long gone. The stats don’t make good reading.
As an interim manager, the former super-sub couldn’t put a foot wrong. That new manager bounce was well and truly in effect, as the side won 14 out of his 19 games in charge. Fast forward to now, his win rate is 27%, worse than the 30% win rate he had at Cardiff. A reminder, he got RELEGATED with Cardiff and still had a better win rate than with United. Another stat that was being banded around Twitter two weeks ago is the fact he had a 7% win rate as permanent manager without penalties. 7%. Let that sink in.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – The yes man
Rio Ferdinand, as much as he wants to deny it, must be wondering what he was thinking when he pushed for Solskjaer to get the job in the first place. ‘Man United are back!’ Far from it pal, they’re at their lowest point in decades. You have to go back to the 1970s when they got relegated to make the current situation look in anyway respectable.
But employing the treble winner as the permanent manager for the club was a masterstroke by the Glazers. A club legend that knows he’s lucky to have the job will tow the party line. The man’s smiling after losing for goodness sake. Being Mr Positive is one thing, but that’s ridiculous. He’s not a Mourinho or Van Gaal, managers with egos and track records that are not afraid to question senior figures at the club. He’ll run with the narrative communicated down by the hierarchy and because he’s a legend, the fans will be more patient, respecting his achievements. A genius business strategy that allows the Americans to milk the cash cow, until it runs dry.
The lie of the ‘long-term vision’
The narrative the club is running with is the concept of a long term vision. ‘Give Ole time, it’s long term process’. ‘Be patient with him, miracles can’t happen over night’. ‘We need to rebuild and give the youth a chance’. What a load of nonsense. Absolute nonsense. People are comparing this scenario to when Sir Alex Ferguson took over at Old Trafford. A reminder that Fergie arrived at United, having broke the Rangers-Celtic duopoly of the Scottish league with Aberdeen, winning three League titles and a European trophy with the side. Liverpool were considering him for the job too. How differently it all could have ended! But the point is, Sir Alex had credentials and a track record before he went to transform United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the other hand, what credentials does he have? He’s won the Norwegian league with Molde. With all due respect, that’s not a competitive league. He’s relegated Cardiff, enough said. Now, he’s performing worse than all of his Manchester United predecessors and is still comfortably in a job. Odion Ighalo proves that top strikers don’t want to move to one of the biggest clubs in the world. Oops Ole.
If he wasn’t a club legend, the hierarchy would pull the plug. But they know fans love Ole too much for them to sack him. Dividing the fan base and making them fight amongst each other only takes attention away from the real problem – the Glazers. We know from the very recent UK General Election (don’t worry, I won’t get political) that Twitter is an echo chamber, completely unrepresentative of the real world. So even with all the noise online calling for owners to sell, there is likely to be huge support for Solskjaer in Old Trafford, even with this ridiculous inconsistency on the pitch. Especially with his old mates Gary Neville and Paul Scholes defending him on TV, despite knowing perfectly well he’s not good enough.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – Tactically inept
Speaking of on the pitch, we haven’t even spoken about the tactics. Oh wait, what tactics? The 46-year-old may have read games superbly as a player to make such significant impacts off the bench. However, as a manager, he is tactically inept. One tactic and style of play: Hitting teams on the break.
When United beat Tottenham and City in December, people thought the side and Solskjaer had turned a new leaf. But then they went and lost to bottom of the league Watford. When teams want to play football and come on to the Red Devils, it’s perfect for Solskjaer. His team sit back and counter attack with the blistering pace of Rashford, Greenwood and Martial, relying on them to produce moments of magic. But when a team sits back, they lack the creativity and management to break them down. Part of that problem is not having a creative midfielder while Pogba is injured. However, Solskjaer has failed to establish the attacking style of play he promised. It’s boring, predictable and living on a prayer.
Brendan Rodgers, Frank Lampard and now Mikel Arteta. 3 managers that have been in their jobs less time than Ole have all shown more of a ‘long term vision’ than the former striker. A style of play and philosophy. You can see how they want to play and the players understand it. The Manchester United manager on the other hand, doesn’t know his best eleven. Jesse Lingard is still starting games, a player who didn’t score or assist once in 2019. Says it all really. Don’t even get me started on the contract extensions to players like Ashley Young. We did an article on it HERE, if you’re interested.
Not the end of United’s problems…
United have to sack Solskjaer as soon as possible. As it stands, even if they’re willing to back him in transfer market, who realistically wants to play under him? The club are reportedly interested in James Maddison. In what world would one of England’s best midfielders want to move from the second best team in the country, with one of the best managers in the league, to the mess in Manchester under a manager who doesn’t look like he has a clue?
Sacking Solskjaer won’t magically solve all the underlying issues in the red of Manchester. The club is rotten the core with Woodward and the Glazers. But the players need a source of inspiration, a manager who can establish a philosophy and knows what he’s doing. Mauricio Pochettino is ready to return to management. But probably won’t be hired because of the ridiculous compensation fee owed to Spurs in his contract. So although he needs to be sacked, it won’t happen. The ownership lacks ambition and wants to maximise the profits of their business called Manchester United. That’s unfortunately the sad truth for the fans of the once great club.
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