Football

Six Months Into The Job, Manchester United Have Already Broken Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Six Months Into The Job, Manchester United Have Already Broken Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

It all started so well. Mourinho was gone, the mood was lifted around Old Trafford, and the players actually seemed to be enjoying their football again. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was being treated as the saviour, the man to finally get United out of their post-Ferguson dip.

Wins were followed by more wins, and it seemed like the Norwegian manager could do no wrong. He was getting a tune out of Paul Pogba and had Marcus Rashford looking like he might finally fulfil his potential.

It was the old Manchester United. After the negativity surrounding the Mourinho era, they finally had somebody in charge that acknowledged the club as the footballing giant that it was. Solskjaer could hardly have bigged them up any further during his first few weeks back at Old Trafford:

You go into every single game at Manchester United as a player or a manager, thinking you're going to win. That's just the nature of this club. The next one is always the important one.

Solskjaer approached his first few weeks in the job with this very mantra, and the results followed. The fixture list was kind, but United were winning games again.

The PSG comeback was seen as the deciding factor in Solskjaer being appointed on a permanent basis. Sure, they may have been outplayed for most of that tie, but they were through.

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Gary Neville said this to his former teammate after the game:

How long you would you like on your contract? What would your salary be? And where would you like the statue?

It was a sentiment echoed by most Manchester United fans. Ex-players were coming out of the woodwork to demand he was given the job full time, and Ed Woodward duly obliged. After all, the good days were back.

All of this looks a bit odd at the moment. The wave that Solskjaer rode on the crest of for his first couple of months in charge long ago crashed against the shore. Reality is back, and in truth, United may actually be worse off than when Mourinho left the club.

Now that they can no longer blame the Portuguese manager, their outlook is incredibly bleak. A lack of direction, a lack of Champions League football, a lack of ideas on how to close the gap to the top.

Serious questions need to be asked about the hierarchy at Old Trafford. They are the ones who got them into this mess, that is not Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's fault. But is he the man to get them out of it?

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A couple of months ago it was seen as almost sacrilegious to suggest that Solskjaer not be given the job on a permanent basis. As we head towards the end of the campaign, it is becoming increasingly clear that he is not the type of character than can lead them back to the top of the game.

The sentimentality has grown tiresome, and his lack of experience at this level has been exposed. Even the optimism, which was the shaky foundation he had built his reputation on, has deserted him. Six months into his reign, the atmosphere at Manchester United has broken him.

Football is easy if you have good players. This is such a great group of players. The quality is just unbelievable.

That is what Solskjaer said about his squad in December, when he claimed the players in the squad made his job easy. For a man that had spent nearly all of his managerial career in Norway, he probably believed it too.

Now after their draw against Huddersfield, which ensured they would not be playing Champions League football next season, his tune was very different. It sounds like he can't wait to get some of those same players out the door.

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I can't talk about individuals now but there's a chance you've seen the last of players anyway. There's always a chance it's a last time but I wouldn't say that about any individual now, I don't think that's fair.

Today wasn't one individual that was disappointing, it was the whole team.

That is just one example. In his press conference yesterday, he cut a defeated figure.

Only a few months ago he had proclaimed:  “mountains are there to be climbed. You can't lay down and say ‘this is over’.” But it seems such mountains are insurmountable now.

When asked about the possibility that United could put it up to Liverpool and Manchester City next season, he had this to say:

You don't suddenly catch 27 points in one season, you've got to take it gradually. Hopefully we can produce better performances and they can produce worse and we'll get closer. But 27 points to bridge? It's not realistic.

Of course you're an optimist but I don't think that's realistic, because the two teams now at the top of the table, they are far ahead of the chasing pack.

Except Liverpool finished 25 points behind Manchester City last season and they've given it a decent go this year. Unlikely yes, but impossible? For a club as big as United, hearing your manager concede the title three months before the start of the season is worrying.

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What he said next was even worse. Surely sixth was as bad as it could get? Apparently not. Solskjaer suggested that if they were not careful, they could drop out of the top six altogether next year.

You've got Leicester, Everton, Watford, probably Newcastle, you've got clubs that want to chase us. We have to make sure that we are ones who chase those ahead of us.

We have to make sure that we are getting closer and moving that way up the table and not looking over the shoulders because there are big clubs, good clubs wanting to chase that top six.

A far cry from 'this is Manchester United' mantra we heard ad nauseam earlier in his reign.

Solskjaer has been bitten by reality, and the truth is, the club should be too. If you want to catch two teams managed by Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, an appointment based on sentimentality won't get the job done.

This club needs an overhaul from the top down, and that includes their current manager.

SEE ALSO: Report: Jose Mourinho Interested After Being Offered Celtic Job

Gary Connaughton

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