‘It is time to ask: Is Solskjaer up to the job?’

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October 18, 2021
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    Ole Gunnar SolskjaerSince taking over in December 2018, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has lost 33 Premier League matches, drawing 32 and winning 58 – he has won manager of the month just once

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked a manager running only on the fumes of dwindling goodwill as he made his way to Manchester United's supporters after a shambolic 4-2 defeat at Leicester City.

    As the Norwegian moved towards a discontented corner of the stadium to clap the travelling fans, he was faced with some sympathetic applause, anger and a fair few empty blue seats.

    If the impression given by Leicester's two late goals is one of a close match, ignore it.

    Leicester deserved their win and deserved to win by more. Manchester United deserved to lose and deserved to lose by more.

    • Leicester win thriller and end Man Utd's unbeaten away run
    • Relive the match and all the reaction to Man Utd's loss to Leicester
    • Man Utd defend decision to fly 100-mile trip to Leicester
    • Go to the Man United page

    Solskjaer can be chippy under criticism but, rather like Manchester United here at Leicester, he has little in the way of any defence after they were over-run and overpowered.

    United's manager looked lost at times in his technical area as Leicester, back to their best, swarmed all over a team assembled at vast expense but one lacking organisation and leadership, panicking and creaking under pressure all afternoon.

    As manager, Solskjaer will take the majority of blame – but some big personalities are in the dock after this game as well. The bottom line, though, is that there is one question more people will ask with increasing validity if United's poor form continues.

    Is Solskjaer the right man to take Manchester United forward?

    It is cruel but it cannot be dodged. And the evidence so far is not favourable.

    First, though, there must be an exacting spotlight shone on United's players. This is not all down to Solskjaer.

    Harry Maguire, to put it very politely, was ring rusty on his return from a calf strain. He ran the ball out of play with his first touch. He was robbed by Kelechi Iheanacho in the build-up to Youri Tielemans' strike to make it 1-1 and was part of a defence lacking any sort of composure. He looked well short of match fitness.

    Bruno Fernandes spent much of the game complaining to referee Craig Pawson. Nemanja Matic was too slow to cope with Leicester's midfield while Paul Pogba had one of those frustrating, ineffective matches marked only by persistent fouling that ended with a yellow card.

    And the biggest personality of all, Cristiano Ronaldo, was not exempt from this morass of mediocrity. He was on the margins throughout, only getting involved in flashes and unable to turn the tide in the manner of old when it went against United.

    It was a grim 90 minutes for United, with Mason Greenwood – who scored a magnificent goal – one of the few who can escape criticism.

    Manchester United look deflatedThis was the first time Manchester United have conceded four goals in an away league game since April 2019, when they lost 4-0 at Everton

    Solskjaer is now the man in the eye of the storm. He may have found a few friendly and sympathetic faces among the remaining Manchester United fans when he made a point of walking right up to them at the end but his glorious deeds as a player and admiration for the healing job he did after succeeding Jose Mourinho only goes so far.

    One of the cases for Solskjaer's defence has been a similar points record to the much-celebrated Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool – and the two face each other in a potentially pivotal clash at Old Trafford next Sunday.

    In his first 104 games at Liverpool. Klopp won 196 league points, while Solskjaer has claimed 194 in the same time at United. Victory on Saturday would have had him ahead of Klopp's record.

    But the problem for Solskjaer is that the pace gets a lot faster from this point on. In Klopp's next 123 Premier League games, he won 283 points at an average of 2.30 per game, up from 1.88.

    In other words, after an encouraging start, Klopp took Liverpool to the next level.

    This United team shows no signs of being anywhere near as good as Klopp's Liverpool, who won the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League in 2020.

    This places the magnitude of next weekend's game at Old Trafford into sharp relief. It is huge for United but especially for Solskjaer because he appeared powerless to do anything to stop the match at Leicester getting away from his team.

    Even his double substitution of Scott McTominay and Jesse Lingard for Greenwood and Matic when Leicester went 2-1 up smacked of an act of desperation as opposed to a considered strategy. It had the same whiff of panic that characterised Manchester United's entire performance.

    This has been a poor few weeks for Manchester United and their manager.

    After the elation that greeted Ronaldo's return and his two goals in the 4-1 win against Newcastle United, Solskjaer has overseen defeat by Young Boys in the Champions League, won at West Ham United before losing at home to them in the EFL Cup, went down to Aston Villa at home in the league, and won in the last seconds in Europe against Villarreal before being held at home by Everton.

    And then came this shoddy show. It is not taking it too far to suggest United were reduced to a rabble in the closing stages by a rampant Leicester.

    There is talent in the squad – just look at a teamsheet containing Luke Shaw, Maguire, Pogba, Ronaldo, Greenwood, Fernandes and Jadon Sancho – but too often it seems United and Solskjaer are simply hoping one of their attacking talents comes up with a moment to win a game or rescue a point rather than executing a clear plan.

    It is fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants stuff. Fingers crossed that a piece of magic can do the job rather than relying on a structure. This falls at the door of the manager.

    They will certainly need to do better than this against Liverpool. It will need magic and more given their respective form.

    Of course, it is easy to discuss Solskjaer's future but Manchester United's hierarchy have never wavered. His assistant Mike Phelan has been given a new contract and more backroom deals are planned. Ole seems firmly at the wheel.

    In any case, there is another very pertinent question: Who is actually out there to replace him?

    Solskjaer now faces a huge week, with Atalanta at home in the Champions League and then Liverpool, who will have regarded United's defensive woes here as mouth-watering.

    These are testing times indeed for a Manchester United manager still without a trophy and with little indication he is transforming this expensive squad into title challengers.

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    3011 commentsShowLatestOldestHighest RatedMost Replied

    • D

      Comment posted by Des55, at 19:53 16 Oct

      Yes he is 100% up to the job. Give him a pay rise, longer contract, keys to the city and a Caribbean Island. Oh and name a stand after him for the away fans!1285112

      • P

        Reply posted by Petethaiunited, at 19:58 16 Oct

        "Yes he is 100% up to the job. Give him a pay rise, longer contract, keys to the city and a Caribbean Island. Oh and name a stand after him for the away fans!"Petethaiunited replied: Just a guess, but I have a feeling you don’t support United, and just come on here to annoy their fans.342417

      More replies (89)

    • V

      Comment posted by Vortex, at 20:23 16 Oct

      ‘It is time to ask the question: Is McNulty up to the job?’1155109

      • R

        Reply posted by Rybo86, at 21:37 16 Oct

        "’It is time to ask the question: Is McNulty up to the job?’"Rybo86 replied: Correct,how many more years of this tripe journalism do we need to endure before he is found out. If he was a manger of a top team,he would have been sacked by now for not winning anything.46063

      More replies (51)

    • S

      Comment posted by squarewindow, at 19:49 16 Oct

      I’m a Liverpool fan but this is just garbage journalism from McNulty. His favourite pastime – trying to get managers sacked.1143111

      • R

        Reply posted by robertj, at 20:03 16 Oct

        "I’m a Liverpool fan but this is just garbage journalism from McNulty. His favourite pastime – trying to get managers sacked."robertj replied: This is the BBC finest. Says it all.47466

      More replies (61)

    • G

      Comment posted by Gary, at 20:03 16 Oct

      Comparing his record to Klopp but not mentioning that he took over a far worse side and had a lot less money to spend.

      He also immediately had the team playing to his philosophy, what exactly is Ole’s game plan again?60645

      • T

        Reply posted by Theanalyst, at 20:22 16 Oct

        "Comparing his record to Klopp but not mentioning that he took over a far worse side and had a lot less money to spend.He also immediately had the team playing to his philosophy, what exactly is Ole’s game plan again?"Theanalyst replied: Good, accurate assessment.20920

      More replies (49)

    • R

      Comment posted by Ron Swansons mustache, at 19:57 16 Oct

      Olly has never earned the right to coach such a big club, just look at his CV for heavens sake.47339

      • J

        Reply posted by J3YB, at 20:09 16 Oct

        "Olly has never earned the right to coach such a big club, just look at his CV for heavens sake."J3YB replied: He’s won more than “Poch”. What’s your point?99241

      More replies (28)

    • S

      Comment posted by Sams Town, at 20:13 16 Oct

      Answer is obviously NO.

      Every BBC pundit lost the plot when Ronaldo scored a few goals but will they mention he was rubbish today & isn’t going to win the league for man utd?

      doubt it.42920

      • A

        Reply posted by andy3846, at 21:39 16 Oct

        "Answer is obviously NO.Every BBC pundit lost the plot when Ronaldo scored a few goals but will they mention he was rubbish today & isn’t going to win the league for man utd?doubt it."andy3846 replied: I think a fair few were quite open about how he wasn’t what United needed. As ever though, United fans were blinded by a PR master stroke by the owners.18313

      More replies (15)

    • C

      Comment posted by cornwall-mart, at 20:23 16 Oct

      After Sir Alex the “class of 92” came out of the woodwork and constantly criticised the next three managers on a daily basis resulting in moyse , gaal and jose losing their jobs. Then Ole came along and they all shut up, because he is one of their gang. That is why he is still in the job despite a lack of trophies and indifferent performances.42923

      • W

        Reply posted by WaddlesMane, at 22:37 16 Oct

        "After Sir Alex the “class of 92” came out of the woodwork and constantly criticised the next three managers on a daily basis resulting in moyse , gaal and jose losing their jobs. Then Ole came along and they all shut up, because he is one of their gang. That is why he is still in the job despite a lack of trophies and indifferent performances."WaddlesMane replied: Solskjaer is Southgate. Likeable and well-spoken but hasn’t got a clue tactically and team looks better on paper. Hardly the types to motivate a team, embarrassing compared to Klopp, Pep etc.38231

      More replies (32)

    • M

      Comment posted by Mike T, at 20:30 16 Oct

      Klopp, Guardiola & Tuchel are master tacticians. They build teams, make them better & those teams are greater than the sum of their parts. Utd buy individual players (often past their best) & Ole throws them on the field. Their results depend simply upon individual performances on the day. Ole has no Plan B – Utd are less than the sum of their parts. Until they learn this they will not challenge.39413

      • M

        Reply posted by Mark 13, at 22:34 16 Oct

        "Klopp, Guardiola & Tuchel are master tacticians. They build teams, make them better & those teams are greater than the sum of their parts. Utd buy individual players (often past their best) & Ole throws them on the field. Their results depend simply upon individual performances on the day. Ole has no Plan B – Utd are less than the sum of their parts. Until they learn this they will not challenge."Mark 13 replied: Agree entirely……and certainly no consistency.1053

      More replies (13)

    • T

      Comment posted by Tiddlywinks, at 20:05 16 Oct

      Of course he’s up to the job. He’s doing a great job 😊👏👏👏👏34035

      • Removed comment

      More replies (7)

    • T

      Comment posted by The Unheard, at 19:54 16 Oct

      Honestly I think Oli is creating a rod for his own back in the dressing room. The shocking treatment of Romero, VDB, Bailly. The persistent favoritism shown to relatively average players such as Mctominay, Lingard. Playing players till they break (rashford) players not fit (maguire). The lack of tactical nous and evolution. Is revealing himself to be not for the players but himself and the owners.31037

      • Removed comment

      More replies (25)

    • F

      Comment posted by fletch, at 19:57 16 Oct

      I like Ole but he should be getting more out of that group of players and he should be improving tactically but he doesn’t seem to be doing either. They seem overloaded with wingers and none of them seem to ever get better. They stay the same or get worse.2158

      • L

        Reply posted by LondonsFinestClub, at 20:36 16 Oct

        "I like Ole but he should be getting more out of that group of players and he should be improving tactically but he doesn’t seem to be doing either. They seem overloaded with wingers and none of them seem to ever get better. They stay the same or get worse."LondonsFinestClub replied: Ferguson still a shadow on ver United. Ole in the shade937

      More replies (9)

    • E

      Comment posted by ericlemagnifique, at 19:57 16 Oct

      Ole’s the person who picked Maguire today & it was obvious to everyone he was not match fit. Why is Matic still at Utd? Chelsea got rid of him for a very good reason, he’s too slow. Utd needed a quality defensive midfielder but what did Utd do? Buy Ronaldo, great player as he is Utd didn’t need him. Lingard must be very frustrated. Who is buying these players? Ole or the board? If it’s Ole then go18210

      • R

        Reply posted by RoundTheOutside, at 19:59 16 Oct

        "Ole’s the person who picked Maguire today & it was obvious to everyone he was not match fit. Why is Matic still at Utd? Chelsea got rid of him for a very good reason, he’s too slow. Utd needed a quality defensive midfielder but what did Utd do? Buy Ronaldo, great player as he is Utd didn’t need him. Lingard must be very frustrated. Who is buying these players? Ole or the board? If it’s Ole then go"RoundTheOutside replied: I saw him Matic trot on as a sun in the CL game the other week and had honestly forgotten he was a Utd player. Offers nothing.5715

      More replies (11)

    • T

      Comment posted by Trencin Reds, at 20:23 16 Oct

      ‘…….There is talent in the squad – just look at a teamsheet containing Luke Shaw, Maguire, Pogba, Ronaldo, Greenwood, Fernandes and Jadon Sancho…..’ Is it just me, or does anyone else think Maguire’s name looks very out of place in this list.18018

      • H

        Reply posted by HarveytheGreat, at 20:25 16 Oct

        "’…….There is talent in the squad – just look at a teamsheet containing Luke Shaw, Maguire, Pogba, Ronaldo, Greenwood, Fernandes and Jadon Sancho…..’ Is it just me, or does anyone else think Maguire’s name looks very out of place in this list."HarveytheGreat replied: No Maguire looks to be at the level of those stated.

        The whole team is dire

        😂😂😂😂😂😂12536

      More replies (15)

    • S

      Comment posted by SBandy, at 19:52 16 Oct

      It is quite simple, when the fans of your rival teams are begging the Man U board to keep him in charge he clearly aint up to the job.

      10 more years!15813

      • W

        Reply posted by Weonlycarryhatchets, at 08:47 17 Oct

        "It is quite simple, when the fans of your rival teams are begging the Man U board to keep him in charge he clearly aint up to the job.10 more years!"Weonlycarryhatchets replied: No no! He is up to it! Honest! 🤞435

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    • J

      Comment posted by J3YB, at 20:08 16 Oct

      Make Bruno/Ronnie captain. Switch Sancho to the right. Pogba on the left. Greenwood should be an impact sub. Tell Carrick to turn Donny into a CDM. Put him alongside Scotty, and Sell Fred and Phil Jones for £7.50 each. Done. I’ve fixed it for you Ole.17127

      • B

        Reply posted by Baines84, at 20:58 16 Oct

        "Make Bruno/Ronnie captain. Switch Sancho to the right. Pogba on the left. Greenwood should be an impact sub. Tell Carrick to turn Donny into a CDM. Put him alongside Scotty, and Sell Fred and Phil Jones for £7.50 each. Done. I’ve fixed it for you Ole."Baines84 replied: This923

      More replies (17)

    • D

      Comment posted by Davic89, at 19:50 16 Oct

      Should never have been given the job in the first place14523

      • D

        Reply posted by Deon, at 20:36 16 Oct

        "Should never have been given the job in the first place"Deon replied: I agree 100%. Not good enough but i blame the people running the club. Like Ole they have no idea what they doing.9310

      More replies (5)

    • U

      Comment posted by Unks, at 19:54 16 Oct

      most clueless manger in the league, but Top Reds love him, Steve Bruce scored a far more important goal for that club against Sheffield Wednesday than Ole did against Munich, but imagine the outrage if they were interested in Bruce after Jose14526

      • G

        Reply posted by Grumpygit, at 21:20 16 Oct

        "most clueless manger in the league, but Top Reds love him, Steve Bruce scored a far more important goal for that club against Sheffield Wednesday than Ole did against Munich, but imagine the outrage if they were interested in Bruce after Jose"Grumpygit replied: Can’t afford to get rid of him having just laid out for a load of final club pension boosters316

      More replies (7)

    • S

      Comment posted by Salbor, at 20:00 16 Oct

      No it’s not time to ask the question. There are far more interesting topics in football than the weekly Old Trafford analysis. It’s tedious and very boring and utterly time to be focusing on other teams who, quite frankly are far more entertaining to watch, let alone analyse.12521

      • B

        Reply posted by bestisstillthebest, at 21:08 16 Oct

        "No it’s not time to ask the question. There are far more interesting topics in football than the weekly Old Trafford analysis. It’s tedious and very boring and utterly time to be focusing on other teams who, quite frankly are far more entertaining to watch, let alone analyse."bestisstillthebest replied: And yet you took the time to read and comment on an article, that according to your reckoning is less interesting than so many other topics. Still wondering why the BBC keep churning out Manchester United articles?7661

      More replies (9)

    • S

      Comment posted by Sallgoodman, at 21:18 16 Oct

      I think ole’s big mistake was not biting the bullet and getting rid of pogba. For all his 20% moments of brilliance he is dead weight the other 80% of the time. He wouldn’t make it into a Klopp team because there’s no work rate.913

      • I

        Reply posted by Its only a game, at 21:22 16 Oct

        "I think ole’s big mistake was not biting the bullet and getting rid of pogba. For all his 20% moments of brilliance he is dead weight the other 80% of the time. He wouldn’t make it into a Klopp team because there’s no work rate."Its only a game replied: Excellent observations272

      More replies (3)

    • J

      Comment posted by Janner, at 19:52 16 Oct

      He is not up to it. End of.11329

      • S

        Reply posted by Steve 76, at 20:47 16 Oct

        "He is not up to it. End of."Steve 76 replied: Give the guy a break!! He’s just won the 29 away games unbeaten trophy. What more do you want?13516

      More replies (14)

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