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Ole Gunnar Solsczar: What went wrong at Man UTD?


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes over as interim manager of Manchester United in December 2018

This descent speed and steepness has amazed Manchester United.

When the Portuguese superstar marked his second United debut with two goals in a 4-1 win over Newcastle, everything was fine. When hundreds of fans waited more than half an hour to congratulate the Portuguese superstar when he conducted an interview after that match, it seemed inconceivable that 10 weeks later, Ole Gunnar Solskazar would be fired.

But, after surviving 5-0 defeat to Liverpool 2-0 ‘insult’ by Manchester City on 24 October and 6 November, after Saturday Soulskazar was knocked out of the manager’s chair. 4-1 defeat to Watford.

The statistics are stark. Four wins in 13 matches in all competitions since Newcastle won. Seven points from eight Premier League games, United kept a clean sheet. Nineteen goals in seven games. Carabao is out of the cup.

It would have been worse if injury-time David de Gea had saved a penalty to secure a 2-1 Premier League win over West Ham in September and Ronaldo’s three critically late goals in the Champions League – a late home win over Villarreal and Atlanta, and a win over Atilia Girona in Italy. A dramatic point-saver.

Solskjaer: Professional

Ole Gunar Soulsakzar
Solskazar led United to third and second place in the Premier League in his two full seasons in charge.

For some, the departure of Soulskazar has been around for a long time. They were never sure that the Norwegian works in the first place and has been waiting for his failure since his appointment was made permanent in March 2019.

That verdict is harsh.

In the last days of Jose Mourinho’s era, Salzcazar regained his pride for a club that had turned itself in. Without question, he acted for the benefit of Manchester United and decided, a club had entered his heart.

He finished second in the Premier League last season, which has been run by United since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. Season since Ferguson left.

If they had beaten Villarreal as expected in the Europa League final, Soulskaire would have provided him with an element of protection against the problems that have engulfed him. But De Gea Gdanske missed a bizarre penalty shootout and, as some felt at the time, the effects of that subtle gap against the Norwegians are now being felt.

Solskjaer: Difficulty

This does not mean that Soulsquare is not responsible for the downfall of United.

It has long been clear which players he trusts and which he does not. Apparently, Donnie Van de Beck falls into the next section.

It is not entirely clear what role Solskazar played in Van de Beck’s £ 35m arrival from Ajax in September 2020, but he never gave any specific idea that he thought the Dutchman could be a significant presence at Old Trafford.

Multiple sources told BBC Sport that Solskazar felt there was a nervousness about Van de Beck, leading to uncertainty over whether he could improve at United.

This scene is a bit strange as almost every match last season was played in an empty stadium. As Watford pushed United to find a way back into the game, Van de Beck came forward and scored, further lowering Solszker’s vision.

Van de Beck was one of several United players who came to the perimeter this season.

Dean Henderson’s goalkeeping slot rivalry has been dashed, though, admittedly, David de Gea is one of United’s best performers.

However, with De Gea and Henderson in charge of the first team, Tom Heaton has been relegated to the third-choice role, which does not seem to be the best use of the 35-year-old, who was previously in the England squad. Injured two years ago.

Jesse Lingard posted a picture of himself wearing a West Ham kit on social media on Friday. This came after BBC Sport and other media outlets learned of the collapse of the contract negotiations with United.

Lingard’s outstanding loan spell at West Ham in the second half of last season brought him back to England’s reckoning. He chose not to return to London Stadium on a permanent basis in the summer, partly because he realized that Soulskajer would offer more opportunities, which did not come.

Crisis of confidence

Harry Maguire
Harry Maguire, who joined Manchester United for m 80m in 2019, was sent off against Watford on Saturday.

On 12 November, Harry Maguire stuck his finger in his ear – a gesture interpreted as digging into his critics – after England’s 5-0 win over Albania. Eight days later, the United captain was sacked from playing for his club in a defeat at Watford.

These two matches have overshadowed the defender’s recent form. Good for England, terrible for United.

This was seen during a 4-2 loss to his old club Leicester in October, when his error offered the home side a return to a game they had lost. It could also be seen during the Manchester derby in early November, when he and Luke Shaw turned away and allowed City’s Bernardo Silva to control and score.

Maguire and Shaw were passive, waiting for the ball to go out of play. This attitude contrasts sharply with Bernardo, who was active in trying to make things happen. It hints at a cowardice that runs across the United side.

Aaron One-Biscaya’s concentration was never great. But after being caught in No-Man’s Land against Liverpool in October and relentlessly leaked by TV pundits, he did virtually the same thing against City in their opening goal build-up.

Bruno Fernandez failed to take a clear chance to equalize at Watford after a performance against City that has made him as bad as he has been since coming to United, as he has given up cheap possession over time.

It is never clear why United spent £ 47m on Brazilian midfielder Fred. And the only thing that can be said about the injured Paul Pogba is that no one is arguing that the situation would have been better if the French players had been available as an alternative against Liverpool.

Was Soulsakzar willing to challenge the owners?

One of the accusations leveled against Solskzar on a regular basis is that he does not have a strong footballing style to identify with, which means he is lighter than managerial heavyweights like Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel.

This view ignores the fact that he has defeated the party led by the three, as well as Julian Nagelsman, Marcelo Bielsa and Mauricio Pochettino.

Initially, Solskjজারr felt that his squad lacked the fitness to do what he wanted. He got rid of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to have a young strike force who could run and force the opposing defense to make a mistake.

His midfield still looked weak, but there was a consistent pattern in Soulskozar’s recruitment. He signed Jadon Sancho at the start of the off-season and persuaded Edinson Cavani to stay at Old Trafford for an extra year when it was revealed that Uruguayan were determined to move on.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford had an immediate effect

Ronaldo’s arrival has broken the template.

In a stroke, the number nine role, which Cavani and Mason Greenwood were expected to share, was handed to the 36-year-old. As a result, Cavani rarely plays and Greenwood occupies a wide role, reducing Sancho’s chances.

Ronaldo’s ability is unquestionable and his goals have saved United more than once this season. But getting the defenders out of possession 10 years ago was not his game and nothing has changed.

Did Solskazar really value Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford as much as executives knew what the commercial impact of the Portuguese superstar would be?

And, if not, is he willing to say so?

Even when Soulsquire was still in his job and the results were going well, some sources immersed in United’s history wondered if he was ready to go to war internally for what he believed, whether he was ready to challenge the Glazer family and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

Deep down, the theory goes, Soulsjair always felt that he was fortunate enough to get such a big job because of his relatively low-profile managerial CV, and his nature meant he would take an unfinished stand against them instead of the railways.

That narrative may explain why Soulsacar survived that terrible defeat to Liverpool and Manchester City. It could also explain why United allowed Antonio Conte to join Tottenham without taking action on behalf of the claiming Italians.

Now though, they are looking for a post-Ferguson number five manager.

And after all that has gone before, there can be no real confidence that they will get it at this point.

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