While there is growing speculation Mauricio Pochettino could be Manchester United bound in the summer after his comments to SkySports, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still fighting.
Solskjaer was appointed as permanent manager less than a year ago and the results have been disappointing since.
A record of nine wins in 25 Premier League games this season is hugely underwhelming, and that’s why there is speculation he could be replaced.
But while rumours circle in England, Solskjaer is getting on with his job and focusing on the task at hand. He has been busy in Spain with United’s squad to prepare for the second half of the season.
Progress not fast enough
Solskjaer is leading United’s rebuild, and he wants to show he is the man who should continue it next season.
There is a lot at stake in the second half of the season and Solskjaer has an opportunity to make chief executive Ed Woodward’s decisions very tough this summer.
If results continue on this trajectory, it will be simple. United will miss out on the top four and potentially not even land Europa League football. A loss next week against Chelsea would be a major blow.
But if Solskjaer can get it right, he can make Woodward squirm, by making any decision over his future really difficult.
United can still go on a run. Bruno Fernandes, Odion Ighalo, and returning injured players Scott McTominay, Axel Tuanzebe and even Paul Pogba, could transform United in the second half of the season.
It might all finally click, and United could show the consistency needed to claim a top four spot. Two trophies are up for grabs in the FA Cup and Europa League.
Louis van Gaal’s 2016 FA Cup win acts as a warning shot that not even silverware may make Solskjaer’s job safe.
If Solskjaer can win a trophy though, it will change the perception of his first season in charge.
This can be seen as a necessary season where United take the hits, rolled with the punches, and got up off the mat still fighting. Solskjaer will have earned a legitimate shot to continue into 2020/21.
That will make Woodward’s decision really tricky. It might not change the end result, if Solskjaer gets replaced, but it will make for a difficult choice.
The Norwegian is still United’s manager and deserves fan support while he is here, even if results so far and looming replacements suggest he is fighting for his future.
Even if he sees the writing on the wall and the threat to his position this summer, Solskjaer has to try and make the decision as tough as possible.
It’s mid-February, not late April, and Solskjaer still has a chance to get United’s season back on track. Let’s see how it goes.
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