“Ole, Ole, Ole,” echoed from the Stretford End in a chant of defiance in the closing stages.
His side had just been humiliated at home to Burnley; their first win away to United since 1962. But resentment at Old Trafford does not lie with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Fans were leaving their seats in droves with more than ten minutes left to play and not because they had all lost faith in the manager. This was the first game we have seen the United faithful stand against the Glazers and Ed Woodward as a collective. The vitriolic chants aimed at the club’s hierarchy were born out of years of negligence and shameful ineptitude from the club’s board that has left us wondering when football’s greatest institution will return to the top.
To say things are looking bleak at United is a misguided understatement. The squad is depleted, the manager is clearly out of his depth, and we’re seeing no desire for change from the top.
Solskjaer has proven he is not the man to take United forward, but the platform hasn’t given him even the slightest chance of success.
The fact that Solskjaer has lost more games in charge as permanent manager is damning. He openly admitted after the Burnley defeat that he can not cling onto the false league position of fifth, which is quite staggering but the inconsistency of teams around them perhaps indicate the standard of the Premier League.
Since the last title win in 2013, United have spent almost £1bn on players. There is an acknowledgement that money has been invested, but it’s how and where it has been spent that is the problem. If you dare to take a look at United’s bench yesterday, it makes you realise just how bad the club’s recruitment has been.
Mason Greenwood, an 18-year-old academy graduate playing in his first full-season in the first-team, was United’s only hope of changing the game at half-time. As anticipated, the disillusioned mediocrity of teammates surrounding him meant he couldn’t claw the Reds back into the game.
Big money has been wasted on too many names to mention over the last six seasons. Angel Di Maria, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Radamel Falcao and Memphis Depay are just a few of the players that were seen by the board as transformational signings before inevitably becoming flops at Old Trafford.
Ed Woodward’s obsession with the star names is well documented, and his infamous comments on Schweinsteiger striking fear into opposition teams are still excruciating to look back on.
Woodward, effectively operating as Chief Executive after David Gill left in 2013, has no footballing acumen at all but yet sits in the most important role at the club. Sacking three different managers in five years after one man was at the reign for a quarter of a century is almost admitting his own incompetence.
And Solskjaer has now become the latest victim of the desultory recruitment and planning at United.
What is most staggering is how bereft of options the Glazers and Woodward have left the United manager this season. Solskjaer cannot account for long-term injuries to three of his best players in Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford. But the salient issue of midfield and attacking reinforcements were remarkably neglected in the summer and have still not been addressed with one week of the transfer window remaining.
The summer signings of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James and Harry Maguire (now captain) were encouraging, but letting Romelu Lukaku and Ander Herrera go without replacements in line was fatuous at best.
Manchester United’s net spend this summer was £60m. One of the richest clubs in the world declaring their desire for a huge rebuild spending just £60m.
While we have seen a ruthless side to Solskjaer in clearing out players deemed not good enough, the infancy of this rebuild has been remarkably disjointed.
We have seen eight first-team players leave and only three arrivals in Solskjaer’s reign. And the fact that the transfer window could close with no more incomings is deplorable.
The board have expressed their public backing of Solskjaer in wake of the Burnley defeat, but eventually he will be the ultimate fall guy to Woodward and the Glazers’ negligence.