With his neck firmly in the noose, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given the opportunity after yesterday’s 0-5 drubbing by Liverpool to apportion some of the blame to his coaching staff.
Solskjaer stayed loyal and did not throw them under the bus, saying ‘the coaching staff are very good, brilliant, and I choose the way we approach the game.’
@Utdarena drew the same conclusion that has been expressed by many fans already on the matter, tweeting:
‘This isn’t an issue because OGS’s not going to call out the coaching openly and that’s fine. There’s no benefit in doing that here. However, if he wants to stay in this job—who knows what Woodward’s thinking—he needs to change his coaching staff.’
This isn't an issue because OGS's not going to call out the coaching openly and that's fine. There's no benefit in doing that here. However, if he wants to stay in this job—who knows what Woodward's thinking—he needs to change his coaching staff. https://t.co/MtZfPkxhaD
— UtdArena (@utdarena) October 24, 2021
The fact is that this situation at Manchester United right now is all about loyalty. The board and the fans are desperate to be loyal to the manager, so much so that they (well, the fans anyway) are begging him to change his coaching staff to spare himself.
When before in football was there such determination to give a manager credit and further chances that everyone is willing to lay the blame on the players, the coaches, everyone but the man himself?
Loyalty is a big thing at Manchester United and it has often been rewarded. The club kept faith for three years in Alex Ferguson and were rewarded with 26 years of greatness. Sir Alex kept faith in Ryan Giggs through two or three poor seasons and he found a new lease of life that rewarded that loyalty.
Some would argue that Solskjaer’s faith in David de Gea over two very shaky seasons has been rewarded with his new-found world class form this term.
It was also arguably loyalty that led United to appoint Solskjaer in the first place, that gave Michael Carrick one of the first team coaching roles and Darren Fletcher the technical director role. Perhaps it was loyalty that led to non-footballing man John Murtough being appointed from within the club to the role of director of football.
Loyalty is a precious commodity – particularly in football – and something that is often hard to maintain when pursuing success. The fans’ loyalty is tremendous and part of what makes Manchester United great. But loyalty works both ways.
Are Solskjaer, Carrick and co. being loyal to the club and to the fans by not offering to resign or, at least, to admit they need help? Ole has admitted that he is not sure what the problem is. If you are the manager and you don’t know what the problem is, surely then you must find someone who does.
After yesterday’s game, the manager said ‘I have come too far, we have come too far as a group. We are too close to give up now.’ It is interesting that he started with ‘I have come too far’ rather than ‘we’. And too close to what? To the naked eye, it seems that United are further away from silverware than when he first took over the job, despite massive investment. So is he being loyal to us?
We all want to support a club that is loyal to its servants and as fans we, ourselves, want to be the most loyal in the world. Perhaps we are. But when loyalty to the club comes into conflict with loyalty to an individual or individuals, as Sam Peoples suggested this morning, then the former must ultimately outweigh the latter, no matter how painful that is.