Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer already the Premier League's most under pressure manager?

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 10 July 2019, 14:59

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a lucky boy.

It may not seem so at the moment as he battles to stop his Manchester United squad from disintegrating Down Under with Paul Pogba in open rebellion.

Striker Romelu Lukaku is making more subtle noises about getting away too and there is a creeping sense of despair that the coming campaign will fail to show any significant improvements on the last.

Solskjaer is already the manager under most pressure in the Premier League.

Had Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the club’s board kept Solskjaer on a temporary contract until the summer - would he still get the job permanently?

Would the club be in such a rush to hand out a three-year contract?

The end to last season was a shambles, made to look even worse in contrast to the blistering early form shown by the squad when it was released from the shackles of Jose Mourinho’s industrial football and placed in the gentle hands of the elfin-like Norwegian.

Pogba was one of those players bouncing off the walls and pleading for Solskjaer to get the job permanently following the incredible fightback to knock Paris St.Germain out of the Champions League.

Solskjaer looked out of his depth as the dismal climax to finishing sixth in the Premier League comprised one win in the last nine games.

It was thought nobody would do a better job of motivating the players than the man who showed incredible loyalty to Manchester United as a striker, rejecting more money and improved status elsewhere to become the first ‘impact’ player during his career.

Instead, Solskjaer has talked too much in public about his players and their shortcomings, while looking out of his depth.

Being a manager doesn’t automatically give you the right to slag your squad off in front of the media. That comes when you have won countless trophies as a coach - like Mourinho has.

The playing squad is not good enough to compete at the highest level. Everybody accepts that.

Most people are now also starting to acknowledge that Solskjaer’s predecessor Mourinho did exceptional work with what he had.

With the players on the books even at their best, Manchester United could hope for fourth place as its limit.

It seems as if second, third or fourth best is acceptable now at a club which was once feared throughout the world.

The fact and autographed team shirt fetched only £50 at auction recently tells us more than anything. The top costs more than that in the club shop.

There are some who feel that even giving Solskjaer the job was Man United going for the cheap and cheerful option when they should have gone all out for Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino.

When a club is giving off the kind of messages that they’re happy with a second-rate manager and second-rate football, it’s no wonder the biggest names in the place want out.

It’s currently winter in Australia where United are touring.

The temperature in Perth is similar to a spring day over here - but there’s a distinct chill running through Manchester United.

Solskjaer has got to prove he can handle this situation with Pogba, that he can handle the job of managing Manchester United. That he can shake the biggest club in England awake.

What should be a summer of preparation is fast becoming a winter of discontent.

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Nigel Clough
Nigel Clough
(Burton Albion)
18th May
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