The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell believes Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s future could be decided by whether the team qualifies for the Champions League this season.
Speaking on the Ornstein and Chapman Podcast, Whitwell suggested that whilst Solksjaer has done a lot for the club, a bad run between now and the end of the season could cost him his job.
‘If they don’t qualify for the Champions League I think that will raise questions’ the journalist said.
‘Whether that means he goes, I don’t know. I think there’s enough credit in the bank.
‘I suppose it depends on how the results go. If they do brilliantly and they just miss out by some freak situation of luck then that would be one thing, but if they fall away and it gets back to the stages of December, as we saw at various different points this season, that’s another way of looking at it.
‘I do think that ability to produce the results in the big games should stand him in good stead, even if there were a few hiccups along the way.’
United’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League depend upon finishing fifth in the Premier League or winning the Europa League.
If Manchester City’s appeal against their UEFA ban is upheld, a fourth place finish would be required in the Premier League.
United currently lie in fifth place, three points behind Chelsea and two points ahead of Sheffield United, who have a game in hand over the Red Devils. Wolves and Spurs are also within touching distance and United’s first two games back, against Spurs and Sheffield United, are both ‘six pointers’ that could define the entire season.
But Whitwell is confident that United, who welcome Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford to the fold after lengthy injuries, have what it takes to rise to the challenge.
‘There’s a good feeling around them. I think they’ll actually snatch fourth. I can see them winning the Europa League as well, because you look at their position there and you could say they’re the biggest fish.’
Rash is back! As United prepare to restart their season and do battle on three fronts, top scorer Marcus Rashford is fit and back to take his place in the side. But how much do you know about the United star? Take our quiz below to test yourself.