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As Manchester United prepare to face Tottenham on Saturday night, it is no exaggeration to say that it has been the worst week of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s managerial and playing career.
Club officials say there is a lack of belief in Solskjaer at the moment. Players don’t recognize the manager’s tactical sense, and although he remains popular as a person, opinions about him as a coach have hardened.
While many fans expected him to be sacked after Liverpool humiliated their side 5-0 at Old Trafford last weekend, the board continued to trust him. But for how long ?
Manchester United have made four league appearances without a win, leaving them seventh place, eight points behind leaders Chelsea and seven behind Liverpool.
The Red Devils have already been knocked out of the Carabao Cup and needed late returns to win their last two Champions League home games after opening the group stage with a shock loss to Swiss club Young Boys.
The team are currently in turmoil, having conceded nine goals in their last two Premier League games – a 4-2 loss to Leicester City on October 16, followed by Liverpool’s five the following weekend.
Solskjaer cannot even say he was not supported. Despite a string of big signings this season, including Raphael Varane ($ 44 million from Real Madrid), Jadon Sancho ($ 93 million from Borussia Dortmund) and Cristiano Ronaldo ($ 16 million from Juventus), United do not is not significantly improved this season, with even the wins not convincing.
Without a doubt, United suffer from a lack of organization, especially in defense, and there are no clear patterns of play that appear in their attacking streaks. In the absence of a clear and defined game plan, they attempt to resolve issues during games through individual games.
Apart from the tactical issues, the relationship between the players does not seem very good. Ronaldo appears to be frustrated with the decision of some teammates – especially Mason Greenwood – not to offer scoring opportunities.
Defender Eric Bailly has reportedly expressed concerns over why Harry Maguire played against Leicester City, after just one training session after three weeks of absence due to injury – a game in which the returning captain is in pain perform.
Donny van de Beek, Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic were excluded in favor of underachieving colleagues in their posts.
The lack of tactical consistency, clear game plans and relationships between last season’s players and newcomers appear to be an issue for Solskjaer.
After finishing second in the Premier League last season (12 points behind Manchester City) and reaching the Europa League final, lost on penalties to Villarreal, the club surprised more than one by awarding Solskjaer a new three-year contract which runs until 2024 with an additional season option.
In recent days, Old Trafford has mostly been silent, which usually means something is going on behind the scenes, but unless the debacle against Liverpool is repeated in the Tottenham game, no immediate changes are expected. .
Following Saturday’s trip to Spurs, United will travel to Bergamo on Tuesday for a vital Champions League game against Atalanta, then host Manchester City in the Old Trafford derby four days later.
The game against City can be the key to any change.
One of the main candidates to replace Solskjaer is Antonio Conte. He has indicated that he is ready to take on the role, but there are reservations on both sides of the negotiating table. The club insist that no contact has been made yet, despite reports to the contrary from Italy.
The Italian, who won the Premier League with Chelsea in 2016-17 and led Internazionale to the Serie A title last season, would want full control at Old Trafford if he agreed to replace Solskjaer.
Conte typically refuses to take a mid-season job as it is more difficult to convey his tactics to what would typically be a struggling team, but it is believed that for Manchester United he would make an exception.
Most likely, Solskjaer appears to be safe for at least a week barring some disaster, with Conte’s appointment likely being at some point. We just don’t know when.