Manchester United’s horrific 0-5 home defeat to Liverpool yesterday has been the last straw for many Manchester United fans who have patiently been waiting for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to take the next step forward as manager.
The MEN’s leading United correspondent, Samuel Luckhurst, is clearly a fan as well as a writer and showed his frustration and outrage in his column following yesterday’s debacle.
‘Solskjaer was always a stop-gap coach and United need to put a stop to his reign,’ Luckhurst said.
‘He is incapable of competing against the elite coaches for he is not an elite coach and never will be. Jurgen Klopp schooled the pupil.’
However, the reporter believes that it is not just Solskjaer that needs to go and that there needs to be a complete clearout, starting with executive vice chairman Ed Woodward, whose notice period seems to be dragging on forever.
‘United’s intended championship challenge is over without starting and Solskjaer cannot be the only one who has to go.
‘Woodward is still serving out his notice as executive vice-chairman and his contract needs terminating before he can be allowed to make another mistake.
‘Richard Arnold [Woodward’s intended successor] cannot be the kingmaker. Solskjaer’s coaching coterie are out of their depth.
‘United are such a dreadfully coached side their clear-and-obvious back four from more than two years ago appears to have had their memories wiped. Solskjaer assembled it at a cost of £130million and they were somehow the third-best top-flight defence two seasons ago.
‘This had the air of the 3-0 collapse at home to Liverpool under David Moyes in 2014, only it was worse. The atmosphere seven-and-a-half years ago was defiant but on this occasion, it turned toxic.’
In a way, Luckhurst has pinpointed the big problem in terms of ‘where we go next’. Inserting a new manager into the same structure is unlikely to resolve the majority of the issues at the club.
The impending appointment of non-football man Arnold to replace non-football man Woodward and the appointment of non-football man John Murtough as director of football speaks to an ownership that is determined to manipulate and micromanage rather than employing independently-minded football men who know the game inside out.
Perhaps Solskjaer’s gratitude at having a job for which he is eminently underqualified is the main reason that the board has been fighting so hard to keep him. He is acquiescent and will never go against them publicly, nor perhaps even privately. But the charade can surely not be maintained much longer. Something has to give and it probably will be the Norwegian’s tenure.
It would be wonderful to think that along with it, there could be the kind of total clearout that Luckhurst is calling for. Somehow, it seems unlikely as long as ownership stays rooted in the hands of the Glazer family.