Former Manchester United star Robin van Persie has said that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be afforded with sufficient time in the managerial role before judging his future. The Norwegian initially joined the Red Devils on an interim basis in December but he was handed with the permanent job in March after drastically changing the club’s fortunes.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Van Persie said that the manager nowadays don’t have much security with their jobs but United should show more belief towards Ole, considering he is one of their own, he quipped: “I think it’s the perfect match, it’s just they’re having a bad spell. Back in the day it was normal for a manager to get time. Nowadays if you lose six games, you’re out. Is that the solution? Give someone time, especially if it’s a kid from the club.”
United only managed to finish sixth in the Premier League this season and that ended up as a disappointment, considering they have recovered to make the top four at one stage. As such, the board can be expected to rebuild the squad with a big spending spree this summer and that may include the departure to some of the existing players to boost the budget. Romelu Lukaku, Matteo Darmian, and Alexis Sanchez are among the high-profile names tipped to make way from Old Trafford.
Manchester United legend-turned-pundit Gary Neville has said that David de Gea needs the support from the fans and teammates amid the recent run of poor form. The Spain international has been guilty of making numerous goalkeeping mistakes in the past month and the most recent of those came during the 1-1 Premier League draw against Chelsea at Old Trafford.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, Neville said that De Gea has been the standout performer for the Red Devils over the years and the faithful are unlikely to turn on him on the basis of the recent showing. He added that he requires as much support from the fans and teammates to overcome the current patch of form.
He said: “De Gea has played too well for Man United for the fans to forget it and put pressure on him. The same with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He knows that he has a player who is fantastic but is going through a difficult time. We’ve all been there. He needs the support of the fans and his team-mates. It’s the hardest position on the pitch. Your mistake is normally a fatal one.”
Owing to this, it appears that the Spaniard could finally head through the club’s exit door but he would nonetheless want to make amends for the recent blunders on the playing field. The 28-year-old has just two matches against Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City remaining for the season and he can regain some of the lost confidence by keeping shutouts in both of those encounters.
Manchester United’s transfer policy this summer appears to be considerably different from recent seasons, with Swansea City’s Daniel James and Newcastle United’s Sean Longstaff rumored to be the first arrivals of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign. While some rival fans may have taken these moves as a sign that United are no longer aiming for the title, these more understated arrivals could be exactly what Old Trafford needs.
Fred (£53 million), Eric Bailly (£34 million) and Alexis Sanchez (swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan) have all arrived in recent seasons as established players commanding huge salaries, but they have rarely delivered on the pitch. Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is insanity, or at least Albert Einstein thought so. While he may not have been commenting on a football club’s transfer strategy, it accurately applies to United’s case.
Too much money has been spent on fees and wages for too few improvements on the pitch, so United are keen to break that trend. Diogo Dalot’s signing last summer was intriguing in isolation, but it can now be interpreted as the start of a concerted push to bring in young, hungry players. James and Longstaff marks a clear continuation of this strategy. Signing a player from a Championship side and another with just nine top-flight appearances may provide easy fodder for mockery from rival fans. However, it is vital that football as a whole moves away from the notion that spending lots of money should be a guarantee of success.
Wales Online have reported that United’s £15 million move for Swansea’s James is not as far along as some outlets are claiming, but a move remains likely. James doesn’t boast the stature of Jadon Sancho, a player who United were reported to be chasing. Yet Sancho adapted to life at Borussia Dortmund seamlessly, dominating in a foreign league despite having never made a professional appearance domestically. James may be two years older, but he has a season of Championship football under his belt. United will be hoping for James to make a similar impact to Sancho at Dortmund.
The addition of Longstaff behind could provide the perfect platform for those three to thrive. The Guardian reported how Rafa Benitez compared Longstaff to Michael Carrick when the 21-year-old first broke into the Newcastle side. Carrick may have been equally unheralded when he moved to Old Trafford, but that didn’t work out too badly for club or player. It would be interesting to know just how much of this transfer strategy is influenced by Solskjaer’s presence. Solskjaer’s immediate impact at Old Trafford demonstrated that the Norwegian has the motivational ability to take younger players to the next level, exemplified by the immediate upturn in form from Marcus Rashford. With several games under his belt, Solskjaer will be able to hit the ground running in August.
Other clubs may not be able to start the season with such familiarity. A look at some of the latest insight from Oddschecker reveals that there could be managerial changes ahead of next season’s title race. On May 21st a flurry of bets pushed Frank Lampard to becoming odds-on favorite for the Chelsea job. The next day Pep Guardiola’s price shortened dramatically to make him odds-on favorite for the Juventus role. Whether those changes come to fruition may be immaterial. Those betting patterns alone show that Chelsea and Manchester City are entering a relatively uncertain time.
Chasing down rivals
United will be looking towards Chelsea with interest in the more immediate future. Just six points separated the two clubs in the final league table. With Eden Hazard widely expected to depart Stamford Bridge, and real concerns about whether any new signings will be able to enter Stamford Bridge, United will be expecting to overtake the Blues irrespective of any managerial changes. Meanwhile, if Guardiola stays for one more season his focus will be on the Champions League. Guardiola has stated to the BBC that the domestic treble is not enough, with European success his ultimate goal.
United’s transfer policy could create a young and hungry squad that will seek to capitalise on any slip-ups from rivals at the top of the table. United’s recent transfer outlays may not have bought them a squad that has gelled, but it has left them with a collection of supremely talented players. The likes of Pogba, Martial and Lukaku are blessed with remarkable ability that could grace any side in world football. Replacing an ageing supporting cast with youthful vigor in the shape of Longstaff and James could provide a dynamic which allows these stars to shine.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said that Ander Herrera is currently working hard to recover from a hamstring problem, which has affected him over the past few months. The Spain international has missed the past three games for the club through a muscular injury and Ole remains unsure over a possible return date for the midfielder.
Speaking in a news conference, Ole acknowledged that the midfielder is trying his best to recover from the ongoing fitness concern. He added that the current issue may not help in the contract discussions with the club, although he has no idea regarding the future of the former Athletic Bilbao graduate.
He said: “He’s been working really hard to get fit from his injury that he sustained against Liverpool in February. Then he came back and got a different one here in training. He’s been really putting a lot of work in and unfortunately that’s come at a time of, as you say, there are contract talks but that’s ongoing. I can’t really comment too much on how far they have come down the line and what he’s deciding. You have to ask him [about his future]. I don’t know how they’ve been the last few talks.”
Meanwhile, United have jumped to the fifth position with a 2-1 triumph over West Ham United and they are now within two points off the top four. The Red Devils were far from impressive against the Hammers and required a couple of penalties to help them scrape through a much-needed win.
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claims that Paul Pogba is unaffected by all the transfer speculation that has been linking him with Real Madrid. The Frenchman was heavily linked with a move to Barcelona during the January window but that never materialised. Now, however, the talk about Real Madrid has emerged and it does not seem to go away. The Los Blancos are interested in signing a high profile player after bringing in Zinedine Zidane back as the manager. Madrid have already announced a couple of big-money deals but the need for a galactico is apparent.
The club have been holding talks with Chelsea winger Eden Hazard, but there is also a likelihood of the club making a move for Manchester United’s Paul Pogba. The former Juventus star was linked with a move to Madrid before he joined United in a then-world record move in 2016. Still only 26 years old, it is easy to see why a club like Madrid after the player, who can dominate midfield like no other. There is also the romance of playing under Zinedine Zidane and it appeals to every French player. Yet,Solskjaer says that it is not a very since Pogba has been getting his head down and focusing on United.
To all fans of United and City, the Manchester derby is always an important fixture but this month’s clash at Old Trafford is probably more vital than most.
When the teams run out for the rearranged match on Wednesday 24th April, the Red half of Manchester will be chasing three points in their bid to claim a top-four spot in the Premier League, while the Blue sector will be hoping for yet another victory that could help them take a giant step towards successfully defending the title.
Either way, something has to give, and it’s hard to see either side losing this game and still going on to achieve their objective at the end of the season – but this applies especially to United.
While it’s not inconceivable that City could drop points against United and still win the Premier League title, it’s highly unlikely that the Reds can lose this game and remain in contention for a Champions League spot next season.
Successive away defeats in the league, to Arsenal and Wolves, have suddenly put the brakes on United’s sprint for a top-four place under recently installed full-time manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – not to mention their FA Cup defeat at Molineux in mid-March.
Despite these setbacks, the dream remains a possibility for the Reds, but if United are going to clinch a Champions League place next season, it would appear that they will most certainly have to beat local rivals City in what – for fans – will be one of the most nervous derbies of recent campaigns.
United fans face predicament
This in itself will present Reds fans with another giant dilemma. As much as they want to play in the Champions League next season, the majority would probably also like to see City edge out Liverpool in the race to win the domestic title.
While the rivalry between United and City is usually intense, it can be even more explosive with the ‘other’ Reds, 35 miles down the M62.
It is a predicament not a single United fan is likely to relish. In short, the choice for the clubs’ supporters is simple: do they want to witness City clinching a fourth Premier League title in eight seasons or would they prefer to see Liverpool win their first title since 1990?
For most followers of United, the word to explain this conundrum is certainly not ‘simple’.
Since Sir Alex Ferguson left Old Trafford in the summer of 2013, City has been the dominant force in Manchester – and in English football, too.
Before this, the last time City were top dogs in their own metropolis was around 50 years ago, when the Light Blues lifted four major trophies between 1968 and 1970.
What many United fans remember is almost two decades of Liverpool domination. While Old Trafford at one point waited 26 years between league titles (1967 and 1993), Liverpool won 11 and few United supporters will want to usher in a new era of glory for the Merseysiders.
United fans will certainly want their own team to win on April 24th, but maybe with a heavier heart than normal, knowing full well the only beneficiary of such a result will be their deadly rivals Liverpool.
United supporters would, of course, be much happier if their own club could pull off a major shock and win the Champions League this season, which would guarantee their participation in the competition again for 2019/20.
Unfortunately, with United outsiders for this prestigious European title, perhaps what many fans are thinking is that the team should go all out and salvage what’s left of the 2018-19 Premier League season – especially if it means coming up trumps in the legendary derby. At this stage of proceedings, it’s clearly the safest route to take.
As the Jose Mourinho era came to an end at Old Trafford, many were pointing to the trophies as evidence of success, at least on some level.
Manchester United, once the dominant force in the English game, had been reduced to citing a League Cup win as evidence of superiority over rivals Liverpool. It was a sad end to their drawn-out demise, which began when Sir Alex Ferguson vacated the manager’s office.
Mourinho’s final months were beset by internal wrangling, arguments over transfer fees and players revolting. Paul Pogba had clearly stopped playing for the Portuguese manager and he wasn’t alone; he was just the most obvious.
When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was announced as interim manager, there was a feeling of surprise. After all, if you’re going to go crashing off a cliff, best to go crashing off a cliff sideways, on fire. If United were going down then they were going to do it spectacularly.
Solskjaer had a failed spell as manager of Cardiff City behind him, but his achievements as a player marked him out as a boss the fans could believe in. Eighteen years after he won the Red Devils the Champions League, their fans still sing songs about him. And, if his start in the dugout is anything to go by, that won’t be changing any time soon.
His charges won 11 of his opening 13 fixtures in charge, drawing with Burnley after being 2-0 down and losing to German giants Bayern Munich. In that run, they beat Chelsea and Arsenal away in the FA Cup, a competition they’re second favourites to win on moplay.co.uk, as well as beating Spurs at Wembley. Those are the big matches they would have surely surrendered under Mourinho.
The difference is having a manager who understands the culture of the club; not just the mentality of managing a team but managing Manchester United. Some clubs are more than a collection of 11 players, and as much as it would pain United fans, Liverpool are the same. Jurgen Klopp is a great manager but going into this season, he’s won nothing because he’s learning the club and the Liverpool way.
Solskjaer didn’t need to do that. He’s as much a part of United culture as Bryan Robson, Matt Busby and Eric Cantona. Indeed, the mercurial Frenchman has recently joined calls to give Solskjaer the job permanently, because he understands the club’s soul.
With another former United player at his side, Mike Phelan, the Norwegian has brought respect back to Old Trafford. Their squad is still one of the best in Europe, no matter what the self-professed Special One said in his finals months as boss. Solskjaer isn’t one of Europe’s top managers, but he is an Old Trafford icon.
He’s galvanised a great squad, he’s enthused a huge fan base and by simply being who he is, he’s brought something inherently ‘Manchester United’ back to the club. There’s a feeling that broken pieces are being glued back together, forming something close to a formidable whole Sir Alex left to be smashed apart.
That’s why when this season ends and United haven’t gone over a cliff, on fire or not, he must be given the job permanently.