Taking over at Old Trafford, initially as interim manager, in December 2018, the Norwegian became the last boss not to bring back the glory days at Old Trafford after Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
But while predecessors Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal and David Moyes were at least able to deliver the Europa League, an FA Cup, the League Cup and two Community Shields between them, Solskjaer did not win any trophies during the course. of his three years of work. .
Returned to the job permanently in March 2019 after beating Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16, prompting Rio Ferdinand to sadly declare: ‘Ole is driving’ and ‘doing his thing’ by urging his former club to retain his services as a former teammate, his secure future was not enough to prevent the Red Devils from suffering a quarter-final in Barcelona or finishing sixth in the Premier League table, at 32 points of champion Man City.
Since then, his side have lost a Europa League final and were twice beaten as semi-finalists in the same competition, the FA Cup and the League Cup, and finished third and second in the Premier League, at 33 points from champions Liverpool in 2020 and 12 points behind winners Man City last year.
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So this is progress at least for Manchester United fans who continue to defend his tenure.
Still, a disappointing start to the current campaign, which saw the Red Devils left out of the top four after suffering losses to Aston Villa and Leicester City and drawing with Southampton and Everton, losing to Young Boys in Champions League and coming out of the League Cup at the hands of West Ham United, means Solskjaer is under pressure.
And that’s ignoring the £ 120million spent on Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo’s re-signing this summer.
So the last thing he needs is a meeting with great undefeated rivals Liverpool as he seeks to regain control of his future.
Of course, it was the Reds who drove the final nail into Mourinho’s coffin in December 2018, which resulted in Solskjaer being given the job in the first place.
Sadio Mane’s goals and a brace from Xherdan Shaqiri at Anfield saw Jurgen Klopp’s side win 3-1 to overtake Man City at the top of the table.
In contrast, the loss left United in sixth place, 19 points behind the Reds. Having previously lost to Brighton, Tottenham, West Ham and Man City, as well as losing points to Wolves, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Arsenal, have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League and left the League Cup from the start in the hands of the championship. On the Derby County side, Mourinho was sacked less than 48 hours after the final whistle on Merseyside.
Which begs the question, with his team’s fortunes this season already resembling that of the Portuguese in their last campaign, what would it take for United to oust Solskjaer this season?
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The loss to Leicester on Saturday kicked off an intimidating series of fixtures that started with the Red Devils hosting Atalanta in the Champions League before facing Liverpool, before facing Tottenham Hotspur again, the Serie A side, Man City, Watford, Villarreal, Chelsea and Arsenal in the toughest of six weeks.
This could be decisive for Solskjaer.
For the record, former United defender Gary Neville doesn’t think his former club would fire the Norwegian before the end of the season.
“He should be under enormous pressure because he’s been there for two years, 100%,” he said during the last edition of Monday Night Football. “But the club is not going to change it.
“I have Manchester United fans on my social media who say you won’t call him because he’s your buddy. No, I won’t. I will not call any manager to ask for them to be fired. He is my former teammate and I like him very much.
“Manchester United failed with two managers perceived to be world class. I think you are giving him until the end of the season… The pressure is building though. What a collection of players. He must make them perform.
Meanwhile, Jamie Carragher has pointed out that the Norwegian is not on the same level as Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel during the debate over Solskjaer’s future.
“Solskjaer did a good job at United, it could have gone horribly wrong,” said the Liverpool legend. “He came with the experience of Scandinavia and Cardiff…
“That will never change though, Solskjaer will not win a Champions League or a league title as manager of Manchester United. He is not at the level of Klopp, Pep or Tuchel.
“Ole doesn’t have that experience. He did a good job getting that point. Does he need to win a trophy to stay in office?
“For me, whether or not he wins a trophy at the end of the season, Manchester United need a better manager.
“This is not a criticism of Ole. They need a manager who can compete with other managers in the league. He knows it himself, all United fans know it themselves. He is not at the level of other managers in the league.
So Neville and Carragher both think Solskjaer’s job is safe for now, but when you look at their start to the season so far compared to their next round of games, there’s no denying the pressure on the Norwegian. will continue to rise.
A win over Liverpool on Sunday would help allay immediate concerns, no doubt.
But with a Reds victory over United in 2018 helping Solskjaer land the United job in the first place, Klopp’s side could now deal a costly blow to the Red Devils boss on Sunday at a time when his credentials and future continue to shine. be subject to scrutiny.
And while defeat is unlikely to be the final nail in his coffin, it would certainly push him closer to relinquishing control of the ‘wheel’ of Manchester United.