Manchester United’s 2-1 Champions League defeat by Istanbul Basaksehir has intensified the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Here we focus on the problems piling up for the Old Trafford boss.
What is going wrong?
United’s start to the season has been mixed, to say the least. Three home defeats, including a 6-1 drubbing by Tottenham, have left them in a lowly 15th place in the Premier League, while Wednesday night’s loss in Europe – and the shambolic opening goal gifted to Demba Ba – has shifted the spotlight firmly onto Solskjaer’s position.
Who’s to blame?
Presumably Solskjaer does not coach his players to leave the opposition striker with a clear 60-yard run on goal from their own corner. But it is precisely that lack of tactical discipline and game management which raises questions of the manager. Individual errors are one thing, an entire team having a brain fade smacks of poor management. Yes, Harry Maguire is struggling this season, and Paul Pogba continues to frustrate. But add in muddled recruitment and inconsistent team selection and the responsibility lies in the boardroom and the dugout.
What do the pundits think?
Many feel Solskjaer’s standing as a hugely popular former United player gives him an easy ride in the media. Certainly Sky Sports’ Roy Keane was on the side of his old team-mate when slamming the performance against Arsenal at the weekend, saying: “Ole will lose his job working with this group of players as sure as night follows day.” Meanwhile Rio Ferdinand, on BT Sport following Wednesday’s defeat, said: “I hope Ole is telling them they are embarrassing him. I hope he is very animated in the dressing room because those players need a rocket.”
Will he survive?
This week’s television appearance of Mauricio Pochettino, touted for the job before Jose Mourinho took over in 2016, was a stark reminder of his availability. Yet Solskjaer has a habit of pulling out a result when he needs one; see Paris St Germain this season, Manchester City (twice) last season. However, Saturday’s lunchtime trip to Everton – the scene of a 4-0 defeat last year after which Solskjaer vowed to ensure such embarrassments did not happen again – could well be make or break for the Norwegian.
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