Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to pull off old trick to save job amid Manchester United decision – Omar Garrick
It’s been a long two weeks for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during this international break, which is perhaps why he decided to recharge his batteries in his native Norway.
The Manchester United boss jetted off to Kristiansand for some time with his family, as the pressure in England was mounting on his shoulders.
United had lost 2-0 in the Manchester derby and it was a defeat that many thought would spell the end of Solskjaer’s tenure at Old Trafford.
However, the Norwegian looks set to be in charge for Saturday’s game against Watford, where he will be desperately hoping his team can pick up the three points. If they don’t, United could be eight points behind fourth. At any other team, there would be no return.
I’ve been massively supportive of Solskjaer’s tenure and whilst he’s still in a job, I’ll back him and still want him to succeed, but can I see it happening? No. Why? Because I think the damage has already been done, evident in the reports of dressing room discontent.
If Solskjaer manages to get his United side out of this rut, it will probably be a bigger miracle than 1999. I know that might be a little dramatic, but think about it. Have you ever seen a manager get himself out of a rut like this before? I haven’t.
Currently, MEN Sport understands Solskjaer is still on borrowed time as United manager and, although it looks unlikely to turn things around, the club are yet to identify an obvious replacement should they decide to make a change.
Solskjaer and United’s players returned to training on Monday after being given the option to take a week off during the international break. Most of the senior players were on duty for their national teams, but those who weren’t had time to take a break from football.
With Solskjaer looking like he’s staying, for now, you have to question, how he does turn things around?
Do you remember when Solskjaer said ‘there’s probably been two or three crises at least since I became manager’? Well, he only has to look at the last time United were in one of these crises for a bit of inspiration to get out of his current situation.
I feel the last time Solskjaer’s position was questioned as much as it is now was when his team got beaten 2-1 in the Champions League tie to Istanbul Basaksehir. There were calls for him to be sacked and the MEN reported that United had made contact with Mauricio Pochettino to become the next manager of the club.
What happened next? Despite bottling the Champions League group, Solskjaer’s went on a ridiculous unbeaten run in the Premier League.
A run of 11 unbeaten games in the league (eight wins and three draws) saw United climb high in the table and even went top around the December period.
At the time, Solskjaer was receiving plenty of plaudits for the way his team were playing and there weren’t that many critics when United were performing well.
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The situation is a bit different, in the sense that the pressure is higher than last season due to expectations rising. The moment you sign players like Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, you have to show you’re capable of challenging those at the top. At the moment, United are miles away from where they need to be.
Solskjaer knows he’s been in this position before, but this is undoubtedly his toughest spell as manager. If he doesn’t win the next game, I can’t see how he stays in a job.
Time will tell if he’s able to get United out of this mess.
Can Solskjaer get United out of this rut? Follow our United On My Mind writer Omar Garrick on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.