If the defeat to Liverpool was rock bottom for this Manchester United team, then what was the derby defeat to Manchester City? Or the defeat to Watford that proved to be the final nail in the coffin?
A meek surrender to our city rivals in a run of poor performances and results that have seen the end of Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s reign at the club. The Watford game felt to me at least that it would be a chance for a reaction and instead that we got a complete capitulation.
The club was in a similar state to how it is now when Jose Mourinho was sacked and there are numerous similarities to the end of his reign and Solskjaer’s reign now.
Numerous infighting, leaks to the press about players unhappy with game time/training the song does sound very familiar. Players out of form and won’t be dropped by the manager and everyone seems to draw a blank about what formation we are playing or what the actual way of playing is.
A new contract after losing a cup final is exactly how it all unfolded with Mourinho, both ending with a sacking, but Jose got almost three times what Solskjaer gets.
All the good things that have happened under Ole’s reign had all gone away very quickly and all the faults were become obvious. His loyalty and trust in players had gone from an admirable quality to being a cornerstone of this rapid downfall.
Players are out of form or injured and being rushed back because he didn’t trust anyone else to play the position. Harry Maguire was rushed back against Leicester and has looked so unfit in every game he has played since; Luke Shaw has continued his very poor start to the season but seems to be undroppable.
A big change in formation was used after the Liverpool humiliation and it worked against Tottenham but against Atalanta and the Manchester City it looked like the last act of a man who just tried to change something because everyone else told him to.
A Manchester United manager should have the strength of his own beliefs that he should stick to his own guns and not do what everyone tells them to do.
My Dad reminded me of a quote from Solskjaer after United beat Cardiff 5-0 in his first game in his spell as caretaker where he said, “a Manchester United team should never ever be outworked”. In that performance against City, they just didn’t get anywhere close to them to put them under pressure.
The players look fatigued as they could barely raise a gallop, a big criticism of United under Solskjaer is the lack of movement in possession with players looking static and not moving to provide an option for the man in possession thus reducing any attack to walking pace.
When one of your fundamental principles is that your team works hard evaporates in one of the biggest games of the season then the writing is on the wall. Fans like myself have given him time and a lot of slack because of who he is and maybe we have not seen or just not wanted to acknowledge the shortcomings because of our emotional attachment to him.
His tenure has been a good one overall as he lifted the gloom after Mourinho left and made United enjoyable for fans again, scoring goals and going forward was a tonic we all needed.
For me, Solskjaer is a man who has restored peace and harmony to the Kingdom but is the wrong man to lead them into war against Klopp, Guardiola and Tuchel. Now the club need to appoint someone who long term can take the fight to the top clubs and establish their dominance again.
When pundits and fans compared Ole against his big rivals in City/Liverpool/ Chelsea then that was fair but his failure against even the likes of Graham Potter and Dean Smith had become a big criticism that couldn’t be ignored any more.
It’s up to the Glazers now and the board to make a decision and come up with an execute a plan, this is a worrying aspect for me as I don’t trust them to make a smart long-term appointment. I think the cycle of picking the wrong manager will continue and we will pick up and go close but ultimately revert to where we are now further down the line.
The lows have been low but also the highs have been very sweet for us, the unbeaten run to start his tenure of was glorious and his results against PSG, Manchester City, Chelsea to name but a few.
I was at the Newcastle away game early in his tenure and Ole’s at the Wheel reverberated around the concourse and throughout the game. Fans included myself came in a buzz and a sense of excitement at what could be, it felt like how it should be and gave me hope but sometimes it’s the hope that kills.
From when he came into the club picking up the pieces after Jose Mourinho’s departure Solskjaer’s tenure has been eventful but never boring. Going to the match under previous managers felt like a chore and watching your team play should never feel that way.
Going to the ground became exciting again and the players became more likeable so there was a feel-good factor amongst the fans again and belief that there was something stirring.
Gdansk was a big turning point as seeing him win a trophy would have meant so much to us, but it wasn’t to be and it has unravelled so quickly since then.
I do think that Ole had simply come to the end of his cycle, the team is better, and we just need a better coach to kick on. This is not a slight on him just an acknowledgement of where things are right now. As long as he was there, he had my full support as a given and his legacy at the club will not be tarnished not matter how hard some people try.
The appointment may have been based too much on emotion and sentiment, but we all dreamed of seeing Ole win something for us. If fans can’t dream about things like that and there being a flicker of romance in a game becoming too cynical and cold, then why do we bother?
His tenure has been fun and who knows maybe there will be acknowledgement of the foundations he laid in the future, but it seems time to take the next step. I hope the club gets the next appointment right whenever they decide to make it.
It’s not the end of the story but merely the end of a chapter in a story that’s still being written. I would like to thank Ole Gunner Solskjaer for what he has done. He is and always will be a Manchester United Legend and we’ll always have that night in Paris.