Monday, January 18, 2021

United beaten, Solskjær is on borrowed time

With a minimum of a draw needed United collapsed in Germany and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær is on borrowed time. After a series of poor first halves that were followed by comebacks in the Premier League, United went to the well once to often and didn’t have enough left in the second-half, falling 3-2 to RB Leipzig.

It was another new formation, and another new set of players playing those positions. Paul Pogba was on the bench after the latest controversial statements from his agent, and Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani ruled out with niggling injuries.

But it was a return to wing-backs, with Alex Telles on the left and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the right that will raise the eye brows. With Matic and McTominay playing as holding midfielders, the system belied the managers comments that “playing for a draw is against our DNA”.

Solskjær is on borrowed time

With five defenders and two holding midfielders the defending was appalling after just two minutes. Eleven minutes later it was even worse and United were two-nil down and already struggling to get a foothold in the game.

Paul Pogba is one of many reasons that Ole Gunnar Solskjær is on borrowed time
Paul Pogba is one of many reasons that Ole Gunnar Solskjær is on borrowed time

It was clear there was no understanding of positional responsibilities, or who they should be marking from the outset and that’s a key reason why Solskjaer is on borrowed time. There are times where his players look sublime going forward, but the chopping and changing, has led to slow starts and third-rate defending.

With the Manchester derby coming at the weekend, Ole will be wishing things were easier. But this is life at the biggest club in the world.

There was a change at half-time, bringing on van de Beek for Alex Telles and reverting to a 4-4-2. There were two more changes on 61 minutes, but another horrendous mistake at the back made it 3-0 to RB Leipzig on the night and all but put the final nail in Uniteds coffin, and left Solskjaer on the brink.

Ole is, and always will be, loved by United fans, and is indelibly etched into the history of the club. But after a game that summed up his United tenure in one 90 minutes there is now no doubt that Solskjær is on borrowed time.

There was an 80th minute debatable penalty converted by Bruno Fernandes, and a back-post Paul Pogba headed goal in the 82nd minute to give that one last hope that things could be saved.

If Ole had fielded his best team, and stuck with a formation over the last 6 or 7 games, there would be reason to stick with him but he seems to have no idea of the best eleven or his best system. But after so long it’s time to move on to a manager who at least know’s what he wants to do.

With Mauricio Pochettino still out there and another disappointing performance, Solskjær is on borrowed time and the thinnest of thin ice.

Will Solskjær still be at the helm come Saturday? As the club lurches through the bad times since Sir Alex Ferguson retired there’s no way of knowing. At this point the writing is on the wall and while Solskjær is on borrowed time, he should be out the door by morning, and a new manager, most likely Pochettino should be in the door before the weekend is out.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær in happier times at United
Ole Gunnar Solskjær in happier times at United

Will it happen. Probably not thanks to the shambles that is Ed Woodward. As a long-time support of Ole Gunnar Solskjær it pains me to say this, but for the good of his legacy he needs to go before things turn sour.

For more like this, visit the dedicated opinion page here. Meanwhile, follow us on Twitter for more coverage of United.

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