With no trophies and inconsistent play, is Solskjaer destined for the sack?
It appears as though that is the direction things are currently headed for the Norwegian manager at Manchester United. While United have made steps in the right direction under his tenure, following the disappointing spell under Jose Mourinho, the biggest issue remains the inconsistency.
The defense has not played particularly well, offering little in the way of clean sheets this season. The entire team has, aside from the unflappable Cristiano Ronaldo, appeared lackluster against opponents that should not be causing the Red Devils much trouble.
Eight wins and one clean sheet in the last 18 matches is not going to get it done. Especially when other clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool show up to play more often than not.
While the Red Devils have shown they enjoy getting up for marquee matches, it won’t matter much if they fail to take care of matches against a depleted, yet resilient Everton squad, a young Aston Villa side, a struggling West Ham or Young Boys in the Champions League.
Escaping the match against West Ham with a win, as well as Villarreal thanks to Ronaldo, are small consolations in the wide scope of things. The team should not be in close matches with lesser competition, and in the recent match against the Toffees, what ended up being crystal clear is Rafa Benitez simply out-coached Solskjaer.
Can Ole save his job or will United turn to a big name to replace him?
To stay on at Manchester United Solskjaer must improve immediately
His United squad are still gelling, so to speak, and with so many massive names and talent, it’s not really a wonder. They are too talented not improve as a team as the season progresses. Whether Solskjaer stays on or is replaced is a different question.
For him to remain, the resurgence of form and consistency must begin against Leicester City and continue against tougher opponents such Atalanta in the Champions League. After that, they host Liverpool and travel to London to take on Spurs.
Even as October makes way for November, the schedule hardly eases up until the middle of the month. United will have to travel to Italy to play Atalanta before hosting Manchester City prior to the third international break of the season.
The mid-November match against Watford should be an easy three points, but after that, the schedule once again becomes an insane mixture of fixtures both domestically and abroad, with little respite.
The match at Watford begins an intense run of games including going to Spain to play Villarreal to London to play Chelsea and hosting Arsenal two days after that. As November closes itself out, Manchester United could be thriving, barely staying afloat or sinking altogether.
If Ole can make it through to December, the schedule, while still hectic, has fewer tough matches in it. If he can keep his job until then, it might be a better opportunity for his squad to pick up some easy points and give their boss some breathing room at the same time. It’s a massive ‘if” at this point.
There is no guarantee Solskjaer, whose club lost to West Ham in the Carabao Cup, might not find his wildly expensive squad playing in the Europa League instead of in the Champions League. They could also find themselves behind in the Premier League to one of their historic rivals, which would undoubtedly sit poorly with the fan base.
On the other hand, should Manchester United and Solskjaer find form and consistency across the rest of October and through November, he and his players might find their situation more comfortable as the new year approaches. Without the work, that will be difficult to muster right now and in the coming weeks, there may be no future for the Norwegian as boss at Old Trafford.
There are names, like Antonio Conte, who might be very attractive to the Glazers, and who might invigorate a grumbling fanbase. This remains to be seen and for the sake of the manager, I hope he is able to get it right. There is a lot of season left and, as it stands, United are only two points behind Chelsea in the table.