How Long Will Solskjaer Last As Manchester United Manager?
Manchester United's 2-1 defeat at Basaksehir in Istanbul on Wednesday night was one of the shock results in the latest round of Champions League ties.
It not only opened up Group H with United and RB Leipzig level on six points and Paris St-Germain and Basaksehir on three points each, but it also left United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer answering questions about his future at Old Trafford.
A trip to Everton this weekend could be his last in charge of the Red Devils with Solskjaer having replaced Jose Mourinho as boss in December 2018.
Should they suffer defeat at Goodison Park, the club’s American owners – the Glazer family – will know they have a decision to make, while victory would merely paper over the cracks at a club that has fallen short of the standards set by Sir Alex Ferguson, who stepped down from the manager's role at the end of the 2012/13 campaign.
Mourinho guided the club to second place in the Premier League in 2018, but the gulf between them and champions Manchester City was 19 points that campaign.
The closest United have got to the points total of the champions in the last seven seasons is 15 when Louis Van Gaal was in charge for his second and final season in 2016.
United appointed Solskjaer hoping his success as a player at Old Trafford would help move the club closer to rivals Manchester City and Liverpool who have won the last three titles.
Since his appointment, United has taken a total of 113 points from 65 games, 54 fewer than Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool (66 games) and 33 less than their neighbours City (65 games).
Premier League Points Since Solskjaer's Appointment:
- 167 - Liverpool
- 146 - Man City
- 113 - Chelsea
- 113 - Man Utd
Solskjaer has been given plenty of time as United manager to be a success, but the sands of time are running out unless he can find a way to turn things around quickly.
United go to Goodison Park this weekend sitting 15th in the table with just seven points from their opening six games, their worst start to a top flight season since the Red Devils took four points from their opening six games under Ron Atkinson at the start of the 1986/87 season.
The ship at the top of United's badge is slowly sinking.
Their only two league wins this term have been at Brighton when they scored their winner from a Bruno Fernandes penalty after the final whistle following a lengthy VAR check and at Newcastle where three late goals spared their blushes a week after losing 6-1 at home to Tottenham.
This weekend's game at Everton is a chance for the players to show they still have faith in their manager, or they can throw him under the bus, perform as badly as they did in Turkey and get him sacked.
If that is to be the scenario, then Solskjaer's tenure as manager will be deemed a failure.
Managers like to leave clubs in healthier positions than when they first joined them, but that has not been the case for the 47-year-old, despite a third-place finish last season.
League Finishes Since Ferguson Retired
|Season||Finish||Manager(s)||Points Off Champions|
When he took charge of his first United game - a 5-1 win at Cardiff - United were sixth in the table.
Now they are sixth from bottom and Solskjaer is fortunate supporters are not allowed inside stadiums because of Covid-19 otherwise he may have faced the wrath of United fans on a regular basis.
How much more time can Solskjaer be given? With an international break coming up after this weekend's fixtures, a change following a defeat would make perfect sense.
It would allow a new manager to come in and assess the squad he has at his disposal and get them ready for their home game with West Brom on November 21.
Solskjaer's future has been under a cloud for some time and United fans will hope the owners have been doing their due diligence on a potential new manager.
Premier League Win Percentage Since Ferguson
- 53.8% - Jose Mourinho
- 51.3% - Louis Van Gaal
- 50.0% - David Moyes
- 50.0% - Ryan Giggs
- 49.2% - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
So who is available to step in and steady the ship at Old Trafford? Mauricio Pochettino (4/7) tops the betting market.
Currently out of work since being sacked as Tottenham manager last November, his appearance on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football showed he is still immersed in English football and could step in and begin work immediately.
A year out of the game will have given the Argentinian enough time to recharge his batteries and start a new challenge after guiding Spurs to the Champions League final in June 2019.
That was as close as he got to winning a trophy in north London. Pochettino has a great relationship with striker Harry Kane and United fans will hope that possible appointment could see Kane swap the white shirt of Tottenham for the red of United.
Another manager who is sitting by his phone waiting for a call is former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri (11/2).
Allegri's managerial CV is very impressive with success at Sassuolo, Cagliari, AC Milan and Juventus.
The 53-year-old left Juventus at the end of the 2018/19 season having won five straight Scudetto titles and four successive league and cup doubles in Turin.
Allegri could be the manager United need right now with a knack of winning trophies. However, he sold midfielder Paul Pogba to United for £89m in the summer of 2016 and the relationship between the two might make it difficult for Allegri to do his job the way he wants.
Outsiders For The Job
Of the current managers in work right now, Ralph Hasenhuttl (9/1) tops the list. The Austrian has guided Southampton to fifth in the Premier League having turned the club's fortunes around following a 9-0 defeat to Leicester at the end of October last year.
Managers are often considered for jobs when their reputation is at their highest and that is certainly true for the 53-year-old.
The question Hasenhuttl has to ask himself is, if offered, would a job as big as this will come his way again. Two managers Solskjaer has faced in this season's Champions League group stage are also in contention to replace him.
Paris St-Germain's Thomas Tuchel (25/1) and RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann (25/1) both suffered defeats to United in Group H, but they may not be tempted by the United job right now when they look closely at the squad they will inherit.
When United were dominating English football, it was often asked how many players from other clubs would get in the Old Trafford side.
Now when thinking about how many of this current United squad would get in the Liverpool side, it's difficult to name one.
Solskjaer's activity in the four transfers windows has failed to make them title contenders. Harry Maguire's £80m transfer from Leicester was supposed to shore up United's defence, but they currently have the second worst defensive record in the top flight in terms of goals conceded per game.
In their six league games so far, United have conceded an average 2.16 goals per game compared to West Brom's 2.28.
United's current plight is a far cry from when Solskjaer first took over as United boss when he was unbeaten in his first 12 league games, winning 10 and drawing the other two.
Solskjaer has won 49.2 per cent of his 65 league games in charge which is the lowest of the four permanent managers since Ferguson stepped down.
If Solskjaer is to be sacked, fans will still idolise him for his goal that clinched the historic Treble in 1999, not for his time in charge as manager.
As for his possible replacement, whoever it may be will have their work cut out to make United title challengers once again.
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