When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed as permanent Manchester United manager it was a popular decision. Few could have foreseen just how dramatically form would subsequently fall off.
For the club’s American owners the Glazers, appointing Solskjaer was obviously an attractive proposition. He was cheap and cheery, the opposite of Jose Mourinho at the end of his tenure, and his status as a club legend might have helped swing opinion in their favour, at least they hoped.
Instead it is Solskjaer’s status as a club legend which is piling more pressure and negative attention towards the Glazers.
Rather than acting as a shield for negative criticism like Mourinho, Solskjaer is a conductor for it, allowing the vitriol to pass directly to the club’s board.
For the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, the national media are waking up to the fact it is the Glazers which are the root cause of United’s problems and decline.
Ferguson managed around it. He was a genius. But prior to the remarkable Robin van Persie deal, his last few years in the transfer market were made up of failings, and missed opportunities like Wesley Sneijder.
Fergie’s genius has meant that the Glazers being the problem was ignored by the press, with focus falling solely on David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.
All three let themselves down, but particularly in the case of Mourinho, they were managing with an arm tied behind their backs at United.
Media waking up
Solskjaer’s inexperience is actually working against the Glazers. It’s making the media wake up to the farcical transfer policy behind the scenes which saw United finish the summer with a net spend of just £80 million.
For United, it’s not enough. Far more is required to get this United side up to the required standard to win the title.
The Glazers thought appointing Solskjaer would work in their favour and unite the fanbase. That only works if results are good.
Solskjaer is actually more immune to criticism than if another manager without United ties had begun the season with his record, following the terrible end to 2018/19.
There is more sympathy for the Norwegian than anger from the media, and now the Glazers are under pressure.
An ESPN editorial published on Monday focused on how the Glazers care purely about the club’s commercial appeal.
BT Sport host Jake Humphrey pointed to the Glazers as the root cause of United’s problems.
The Mail criticise the Glazers for ‘not losing any sleep’ over United’s on pitch decline, in a stinging editorial aimed at Ed Woodward’s failing.
It’s a start. This growing criticism will only build if United continue to struggle. Under Moyes, Van Gaal and Mourinho, they escaped criticism. No more.
If they thought Solskjaer would solve everything they are wrong. If anything he is only making the owners’ failings more obvious.
There were social media protests in the summer and this disquiet might start being more noticeable on matchdays if results continue.
Sure, a few wins might solve things for a few weeks, but a run of victories just does not seem likely right now.
Do they care? They should, because their decisions appear to be backfiring, and the anger and criticism from the fans and media will not go ignored by sponsors and investors. If the club’s commercial deals are affected or thrown into doubt, at that point they will be under real pressure.
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