Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to banish memories of darkest Man Utd day against Watford


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under huge pressure as Manchester United boss and cannot afford a repeat of his side’s performance the last time they visited at Vicarage Road

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reviews Manchester City defeat

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s critics are now spoilt for choice when ranking the Manchester United‘s manager’s most chastening defeats.

Liverpool fans hollered ‘Ole’s at the wheel’ in a 5-0 drubbing for the ages but the mockery Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City made of United a fortnight later arguably eclipsed it as Solskjaer’s nadir.

Both results at home to United’s bitterest rivals sufficed as the death knell for the Norwegian who has somehow survived once again.

Five Premier League managers have been jettisoned in three months and Solskjaer has walked the plank but still clings on.

The November international break represents prime sacking season and the next pause from domestic duties is March.

Under the most intense pressure, Solskjaer returns from a week’s holiday in Norway knowing the latest storm has passed.








Solskjaer is under huge pressure as Man Utd boss
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)



But United visit Watford as the Premier League returns this weekend and an imitation of their last trip to Vicarage Road would surely prove terminal.

The 2-0 defeat in December 2019 was one of Solskjaer’s darkest days since taking the reign and for some United fans it should have already been the defining moment.

David de Gea has been a rare beacon of light shining through a bottomless United mire this season but he was at fault three days before Christmas with a howler and Troy Deeney fired a penalty to compound the misery.

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However, what was so excruciating about the defeat was the manner of the performance against a side who had previously only won one league game all season.

United couldn’t muster a shot on target before captain Deeney doubled the lead in a showing that strikes telling similarities with today’s struggles.

Of course, much has changed since then and it will be 700 days since United matchgoers last piled into the Vicarage Road Stand.








Watford beat Man Utd 2-0 in their last league meeting at Vicarage Road
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)



But what is so concerning for United fans is that much has stayed the same.

United’s goalkeeper, back four and midfield duo that day were exactly the same that started in the derby humbling against City.

De Gea was loosely protected by a porous back four of Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka while Scott McTominay and Fred shielded the defence.

The last defeat to Watford had been preceded by recent victories over Tottenham and Manchester City but this time confidence is at rock bottom.




And with Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba both injured, there is every chance Solskjaer could select the exact same seven players to build his platform this time round.

Solskjaer will demand a response, and in Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes, the United boss has Portuguese firepower to tear lowly Watford apart.

The Hornets have lost seven of their 11 league games and a thrilling 5-2 victory for Claudio Ranieri’s men at Everton was an aberration.

The pressure is on and if Solskjaer cannot evoke a sparkling reaction from his players and United slip to a fourth league defeat in five, doomsday surely beckons.


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