With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s future at Old Trafford as perilous as it has ever been, Paul Merson asks how he hasn’t been sacked after Sunday’s “embarrassing” 5-0 defeat to Liverpool, before calling on Manchester United’s players to provide some much-needed relief for their manager.
Sunday’s humbling, humiliating defeat by Liverpool shook the foundations of Solskjaer’s tenure at Manchester United to its very core and asked serious questions of his long-term suitability as manager.
Many expected the damaging result to spell the end of the Norwegian’s three-year spell in the Old Trafford hot seat but Solskjaer remains, for now, and is tasked with arguably the greatest revival project of his managerial career.
In his latest Sky Sports column, Merson dismisses suggestions Solskjaer should have walked away from Manchester United in the wake of the loss to Liverpool but highlights glaring deficiencies which continue to hamper his reign, before calling on the players to start relieving the pressure on their beleaguered manager…
A defeat like no other
I have never seen a result like it before. Nothing compares to this result, nothing. I was embarrassed. It wasn’t a good watch.
Manchester United versus Liverpool, the biggest game in the world, the biggest game in United’s season, and they lost it by a country mile.
I don’t like seeing any manager get the sack but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is very fortunate to still be in a job. He’s as lucky as you can become as a manager.
I don’t care what anybody says but if any other manager at any other club in Europe lost 5-0 at home to your biggest rivals, the manager is gone. If Chelsea or Arsenal lost 5-0 at home to Tottenham, the manager would do well to still be there on the Monday morning.
Manchester United have won just one Premier League game in five, that just isn’t acceptable, and yet the manager has still got a job. I don’t know what’s going on at the club.
Solskjaer’s Man Utd a soft-touch
The worrying thing is that after three years Solskjaer clearly doesn’t know what his best team is.
They broke the bank to go and get a player for £70m in Jadon Sancho, he doesn’t play. They’ve got a player in Paul Pogba, who they have sweated to keep, and he didn’t start the biggest game of the season.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Manchester United are not a team, they are a group of individuals. They have let in 11 goals in the last three games, four at Leicester, two against Atalanta, and five at home to Liverpool. A team like Manchester United shouldn’t be letting in that number of goals over a good chunk of the season, but that just shows where they are at the moment.
There is no shape or pattern, if United score a goal it’s almost as if they stumbled over it and it came from nowhere. As Manchester City and Chelsea, and Liverpool in devastating fashion at Old Trafford on Sunday, have shown, they have got a plan.
Playing against Manchester United is too nice at the moment, that just shouldn’t be the case. I played at Old Trafford a number of times and came off the field thinking we’d played well but having lost. Teams now are shocked if they lose! Every team has a chance when they go to Old Trafford.
Before United’s recent demise all started, I watched the Newcastle game on Soccer Saturday and the game was in the balance. I remember telling Jeff Stelling it was a ‘heads-or-tales game’. That was against a Newcastle side who are second bottom of the Premier League. The warning signs were there then.
Should Solskjaer walk?
People say Solskjaer should walk away from Manchester United. Come on, he’s not going to walk away.
It’s a once in a lifetime job, it’d like turning down the England job, something you just couldn’t do. If you’re the manager of the biggest club in the world you cannot walk away, this job will never come again.
I don’t know Solskjaer personally, but you really felt for him on Sunday because you know he is a really nice man. When some managers lose like that it doesn’t really mean anything, but Solskjaer just seems so nice.
Even after the game he fronted up, took responsibility for picking the team and you just thought he was amazing because a lot of other managers would have thrown their players under the bus.
Imagine if Manchester United had lost 5-0 under Sir Alex Ferguson or Mourinho in that manner, or if Liverpool had under Jurgen Klopp, all of those managers would have gone mad. It’s all too nice at Manchester United, and that is handy for the players.
Time for players to repay Solskjaer’s faith
In a way I feel sorry for Solskjaer. Yes, he picks the team, but it’s these players who are getting beaten 5-0. They are hiding behind the manager.
I was fortunate to play in successful teams, and I’ve played in teams when we’ve struggled and haven’t won things, I would like to think the Manchester United players have called a meeting between themselves, not with the manager.
Solskjaer has shown a lot of faith in a lot of players and they are letting him down – big time. That is probably the biggest shame of all.
The players need to call each other out and be honest with themselves over their performances. As a player you know when you walk off a pitch if you’ve left everything on it, you just know.
There are days when you come off having lost but can accept that it just wasn’t your day. I lost 6-2 at home to Manchester United, Peter Schmeichel had an unbelievable game, losing is part of football.
But there are ways to lose football matches, and that performance from Manchester United on Sunday wasn’t one of them.