The next few weeks will be decisive for United amid questions about Ole’s capabilities, but now the club still believes in him.
If you question Manchester United’s attitude towards Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, you only have to look at their decision to extend Mike Phelan’s contract to understand that the club are not planning on sacking the Norwegian manager.
It is also believed that Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna, who is also a key part of Ole’s coaching staff, will both have their contracts extended to show the board’s support for the current structure.
Next December will mark the third anniversary since Ole took over from the sacked Jose Mourinho. He has been sacked several times since then, perhaps more than any other manager in the Premier League, but he is still here.
Ole repeatedly defended himself and United’s poor form earlier in the season; he was again criticized last weekend, after the draw against Everton, over whether he believes he is the right man to move United forward.
“It was the same question that was asked after Wednesday night (2-1 vs Villarreal in the Champions League). I firmly believe that we will get the best out of this squad,” he replied.
“A lot of things happened this month and we just had Raphael [Varane] and Jadon [Sancho] since August, and Cristiano [Ronaldo] since September.
“We have a lot to work on and we need to improve, we know that and I know that, but I believe in this group of players and the coaching staff I have. So, the short answer is yes.”
At this stage last year, Mauricio Pochettino was tipped to replace him and he was forced to smack his tongue in response to United’s poor start, but whenever there was a crisis, Ole was able to get his team out of there – often brilliantly.
Picking positive outcomes when the team needed them most has become a common theme in his three years in charge. In the 2019/20 season, it was almost a cycle; The Red Devils had a tough time in the game, got tough resistance but won.
Think back to when United drew against Sheffield United, lost to Astana, were as strong as Aston Villa but then beat Tottenham Hotspur at home and Manchester City away.
The next game could be another example. United are indeed in a better position in the league than last year and are four points better off going through matchday seventh. But now comes the real test.
Away to Leicester City, facing Liverpool at home, Tottenham away and Man City at home are their next four league games. If you lose, the pressure will increase. But if they manage to win the match, talk about the title race will slowly return to being commonplace.
Ole clearly knows he needs to win trophies this season and that is something his compatriot John Arne Riise believes in.
“I think Ole is doing a great job. He remains calm and focused on the things he can do with the team. He doesn’t really care about the media or what people write about him,” the ex-Liverpool told Goal.
“One week he was the worst manager in history, the next he made an incredible change and came back looking good. He was used to it. It’s a tough job, one of the biggest clubs in the world to handle. He will always be under pressure. He has to win something, and that’s why I’m disappointed they got out of the League Cup too early.”
United’s elimination at the hands of West Ham from the League Cup is a big blow for Ole. Not only is it one of the four trophies that are the easiest to win, but an early exit has prevented him from dividing up playing time for his players.
Ole has publicly acknowledged that it is not his job to make all players happy, but life would be even more difficult for the Red Devils manager if in January a player like Donny van de Beek forced his way out after missing minutes.
With one in four trophies out of reach, while the realistic prospects in the other two competitions will become clearer in the next four weeks, the pressure over the next run of games will be immense.
“The nature of this job is, if you are the manager of Manchester United, you will be under pressure,” former United defender Denis Irwin told reporters. Goal. “Ole is entering his third season after making some fantastic signings in the summer and I’m sure he knows what that means. As former players he has played with, we all want him to be successful and believe he is the right person.”
Their performance in the last few weeks is fairly poor and it cannot be covered. But the club believes the foundations he has built over the past three years, as well as the progress that has been made, means that the club does not need to make hasty decisions when responding to minor results.
A source within the club said United were not bothered by the ‘hysteria’ on social media and there was still confidence about the direction Ole’s side were heading.
“He has had support and been given a lot of money and we have seen the progress he is making, but now he has to start [menggapai posisi puncak], ”Dwight Yorke told Goal. “When you have talent and a squad like we have, the expectations go up even further and that’s understandable, especially when you look at the line-up up front.
“We have a fantastic goalkeeper and strength at centre-back. I think we have so much quality there. For us to think that we can’t win the league or people don’t believe in that, my mentality wouldn’t be like that if I were in charge of the club now.
“I think there is enough strength in the team to try and win the Premier League this season.”
Next month will be key if Ole is to fulfill his dream of winning the league, but if it ends up failing, he will still have the support of those above him around him.
As John Murtough, signing for Red Devils football put it: “We have a long-term strategy and belief in the direction we are going. We have to stay in control, don’t get carried away, don’t deviate from the plan. Ole and his staff are very focused on that.”