It is deeply disappointing that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did not resign Sunday night following the 5-nil home destruction of his team by bitter rivals Liverpool. Even worse that he did not resign the next day.
It is very difficult to accept that one who claims to love the club so much did not feel sufficiently disgusted by the job he did to “fall on his sword”. This might have been just enough penance for one of the darkest afternoons on a football field for the football club and could have preserved his legendary status.
He has chosen, instead, to persevere on a job he has shown time and time again is way beyond him.
I was on my bed in my room at Jaja Hall, University of Lagos when I turned on my radio that was already tuned into the BBC World Service to listen to the 1945 Sports Round-up that May 1992 Sunday evening.
The news did not even wait for the sports section. The news opened up with “Leeds United have emerged the champions of the final 1st Division Championship in England….”. I truly believe my heart missed a beat at that information. I was gutted.
I remember how my body was shaking involuntarily that afternoon as Andy Cole missed chance after chance – more like Ludek Miklosko having the game of his life – during the final day of the 1995 season. The winner refused to come and the title went to Blackburn Rovers and Kenny Dalglish.
There was the Diego Placente goal-line clearance off a superb Diego Forlan backpedalling left foot volley as United chased a Glasgow Champions League final place in Leverkusen.
I can catalogue many heart breaking defeats since I started following this club in 1983 but there is nothing from way back then that comes close to the hurt and humiliation of Sunday 24/10/2021.
Under the hapless reign of David Moyes the same opponents had come to Old Trafford, trashed the living room and won by 3 unreplied goals. As beatings went, it was comprehensive but somehow it does not even feel as bad as this.
What makes Liverpool’s 5 nil win so humiliating was that the visitors actually “declared” after the 5th and especially after Paul Pogba’s frustration driven red card. My deepest gratitude goes to Jurgen Klopp and Jordan Henderson for making that merciful decision. Liverpool could have scored 10 if they wanted.
Unto Solskjaer. It is absolutely shocking how totally clueless he seems the longer he stayed on the job. Scratch that, it is heart-breaking to watch. You watch other teams and you watch Manchester United and you are always scratching your head at what they are trying to do.
It is even difficult to know where to start when pulling apart the last 2 and half years of the Norwegian’s time in charge. At the start, United seemed to be a team difficult to break down and counter-attacked with ferocious speed.
In his first full season he seemed pretty confused on what he wants the team to be and so they struggled even if there was a lack quality. The arrival of Bruno Fernandes seemed to galvanise the team and they started winning games especially after the Covid-19 Lockdown.
Team finished in a creditable 3rd place and so one started to think that there might be something cooking here. I only hoped it, to be honest.
I am very particular about listening to Managers during their pre and post-match press conferences. I use these to gauge the thinking of the men and I try to hear what they are telling the players, opponents and fans.
The current United manager’s press conferences/interviews are so pale, so lacking in power, aggression or even the authority that comes with being the Manager of Manchester United. That is my biggest problem with the Norwegian: He does not seem to realise that he is managing the biggest football club in the world. He does not seem to realise that he is not a fan or footballer any more.
Start of this season following a 6-1 win over Leeds, his post-match interviews had him sounding like a 20yr-old Stretford End Season Ticket holder rather than the manager. I tweeted how I am so worried about him.
When you watch him speaking or even on the touchline he exhudes no authority, speaks with no authority and you begin to wonder how on earth he is able to transmit to the footballers at the football club what it means to play for United. It all seems fun and games to him and down to the players.
Last season at Old Trafford vs PSG, Fred was on a yellow card early in the first half. EVERYBODY who knew anything about football knew that the safest thing to do was to take the Brazilian off to avoid a 2nd yellow. Everyone except the Manchester United manager.
Predictably, the 2nd yellow followed, United lost and eventually knocked out of the group stage of the CL. That was the night I knew that this job was beyond the man and he should have been sacked. He was too weak, too tentative for a task like this. He should have been relieved of his job that night.
The stats will show United finished 3rd and 2nd in the Premier League making him the first Manager post-Fergie with back to back Top 3 finishes. They will also show many semi-finals and one final.
That inability to get past the semis and to win one trophy shows that despite being able to assemble a much better, much more balanced squad than he inherited, he is so clearly unable to take these players up the steps to collect winners’ medals.
Atalanta at home in the Champions League, I heard Darren Fletcher and Robbie Savage in commentary for BT Sport say that “…United were going to play 424 formation according to the Manager”. My jaw dropped and I actually wanted to start crying. Who plays 424 in 2021? Who even plays that at Premier League and Champions League levels? Did this fellow not learn any lessons from the defeat at The King Power where they lost 4-2?
What kind of a football manager watches how his team performed vs Leicester and Atalanta and decided to keep the same shape and largely the same team for the visit of Liverpool? I will answer: an incompetent manager, one so out of depth. One that should have been sacked by any serious minded board.
I believe strongly – said it so many times last season – that football is a results business. For as long as United kept winning games the Manager stays in his job.
United, last season, benefited from Liverpool defending their title so poorly, City starting slowly and Chelsea keeping Frank Lampard on a little too long. There has been nothing, since the start of this season to give anyone confidence that United will challenge for honours with the current manager.
The defeat at Young Boys was bad perhaps excusable, the manner of the defeat at the King Power was dreadful and the first half at home vs Atalanta warned of grave consequences ahead.
Solskjaer has no previous trophy or trophies that should insulate him following the disastrous display vs Liverpool. None of those to make anyone think things will get better and it is an outrage that he is still in a job.
Outrageous that after presiding over the heaviest defeat to Liverpool, he has not offered his resignation.