Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under increasing pressure at Manchester United.
Solskjaer has a combination of factors going against him, poor form, a difficult fixture list, increased expectation, and potentially disgruntled squad players.
With just one point from the last three league games, United face Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City next in the Premier League, along with two Champions League games with Atalanta.
It is very possible this run of fixtures forces Manchester United into a decision the club would rather not make.
Why do United want to keep Solskjaer?
The Athletic reported after defeat to Leicester that Solskjaer’s job is safe for now.
United like to give managers time, and there is a sense that this is still very early in the season. But as noted, over the next five games, the situation could take a dramatic turn for the worse.
Sacking Solskjaer would mean an abandonment of the project the club have been so invested in over the past two years.
It would be an admission not necessarily of failure, because Solskjaer has delivered back to back Champions League finishes, but an admission that the manager has taken the club as far as he can.
From a timing perspective, United would rather not make the change this season.
The Athletic note how Ed Woodward will step down as CEO in December, likely to be replaced by Richard Arnold.
While the two are essentially two sides of the same coin, we saw in 2013 that changing a manager and a CEO at the same time makes for a chaotic backdrop.
United would prefer to learn from those mistakes – but they may not have a choice.
Results on the pitch influence fan feeling, and with supporters in stadiums, there will be no lack of clarity on how fans feel.
Match going Reds will back Solskjaer as long as possible, rather than the kneejerk social media reactions. But once Solskjaer loses the support of fans at Old Trafford, it will be time up.
The Times reports fan view of Solskjaer hinges on United’s performance and result against Liverpool at the weekend.
A desire for continuity is admirable. But not at the expense of success.
A clean slate may be what is needed
A new manager and new chief executive may be what is needed for a true clean slate at Old Trafford.
It is well documented that Ed Woodward’s exit is long overdue and should have happened years ago.
Appointing a new manager quickly will put scrutiny on the next appointment, Woodward’s replacement as CEO.
Could the Glazers’ plans be disrupted?
For better or worse, Solskjaer has navigated the storm caused by the Glazer ownership fairly well. Very well from their perspective
Solskjaer is a manager who does not rock the boat publicly.
What would Antonio Conte do? While United may deliberately avoid the type of confrontation a Conte may cause, the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Eric Ten Haag are unknown quantities in this respect.
The Glazers want another ‘yes man’ as CEO, and commercial director Richard Arnold fits the bill.
A manager like Zidane or Conte may insist on a more experienced, football focused appointment.
Keen to learn from the lack of synchronicity between Moyes and Woodward in 2013, United may be obliged to listen – even if they prefer not to act.
That’s why United would prefer to keep Solskjaer in place. As usual with United under the Glazer ownership, it is the off-field matters which take priority for the business.
United will only act over Solskjaer when they absolutely have to. And by that point of course, it could be too late for United to salvage the 2021/22 season.
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