English Premiership

DEBATE | Should Ole stay at the wheel or be put out of his Man United misery?

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Getty Images)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Getty Images)

Sport24's Baden Gillion and Tashreeq Vardien debate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's ability as an elite manager following Manchester United being unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League.

Tashreeq Vardien is of the opinion that Solskjaer should be backed and given time to improve the squad while Baden Gillion believes the Norwegian is out of his depth and should be put out of his misery.

Ole stay (Tashreeq Vardien)

Another miserable defeat for Manchester United which resulted in the club being demoted from the Champions League to the Europa League.

The pressure of being the manager of such an enormous club could be getting to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, or is the former player simply out of his depth?

On 19 December, it will be exactly two years since the Norwegian returned to the Red Devils under the guise of being interim coach following Jose Mourinho’s inevitable sacking.

The now 47-year-old, having inked a three-year deal in March 2019, is 108 games deep – 60 victories, 21 draws and 27 defeats with a moderate 55.56 winning percentage.

Not bad, but not good enough either.

The tactical set up in their 3-2 defeat against RB Leipzig backfired as soon as the whistle sounded for kick-off.

United were two goals down before the 15th minute as Solskjaer experimented with a defensive three-four-three formation.

However, Tuesday could be the final straw with fans beginning to turn against the former striker and calls for Solskjaer’s sacking began to swivel all over social media even before the half-time whistle. 

It has been a rollercoaster season for United as Solskjaer continues to tinker with his starting XI week-in-week-out as he searches for his best combinations.

With 16 matches played, United have suffered six defeats in a campaign that started less than six weeks after the previous season ended in order to make up ground due to the coronavirus.

Part of me wants United to end their agreement with Solskjaer and sack the Norwegian with Mauricio Pochettino waiting in the wings as the reported favourite to take over the reigns.

But then logic kicks in and, much like the current United board, I begin to back the baby-faced assassin again.

He came into this job with minimum experience of managing a top club and has so far failed and stumbled a number of times at the helm.

However, the optimist in me sees that all that failure could be the building blocks for something great in the future.

It’s never ideal to cut ties with a manager during the middle of a season.

I suggest keep the hashtags of #OleOut, out, until the end of the campaign as United are faring well in the Premier League and still have a chance of silverware under his tutelage in the current season.

“We see positive signs on the pitch and the training ground that reinforce our belief in the progress being made by Ole, his coaching team and the players,” said United’s much hated against executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

These comments were made last week after United’s defeat against Paris Saint-Germain.

So, with that being said, Solskjaer’s next task is the Manchester derby on Saturday, and a victory could twist the fans to start backing the manager again.

Ole Out (Baden Gillion)

Manchester United crashing out of this season's edition of the Champions League in dramatic fashion shows that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is out of his depth as an elite manager.

It was a horror show for the Norwegian as his Man United side grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory to crash out of the competition following a shock 3-2 defeat to RB Leipzig.

Man United led the Group H standings until the final round of fixtures and only needed a point from their final two matches to ensure qualification to the knockout stages.

A win against Leipzig would still have been enough to secure an unlikely top spot in a tough group.

After making a perfect start with an away win over Paris Saint-Germain and an emphatic drubbing of Leipzig, Solskjaer's men were in the driver's seat to clinch qualification.

It was all downhill from then on though as the alarmingly inconsistent Man United under Solskjaer seemed to do just enough to bottle it and crash out of the competition.

A shock defeat to minnows Istanbul Basaksehir was followed by back-to-back defeats to PSG (at home) followed by the defeat to Leipzig at the final hurdle.

Solskjaer has continued to display worrying signs of his inability to guide the Red Devils to their former glory days of which he played a part as a player.

An alarming sign of this has been the number of times Man United have had to fight back from a deficit.

United fell just short of pulling off yet another unlikely comeback against Leipzig on Tuesday evening, with almost all of their recent wins occurring from comeback situations.

Solskjaer claims his team are displaying the Man United "never-say-die" attitude but it more likely is down to his inability to set his team up effectively regarding a game-plan and tactics.

United trailed by one goal against West Ham before a 3-1 win; fell behind by two goals against Southampton with the same happening against Everton in a 2-1 win.

The overriding feeling is that Solskjaer is constantly being caught cold by opposing managers before having to make adjustments with the quality of his squad proving the difference during the latter stages of games.

A further example of Solskjaer's shortcomings as manager is the opening day defeat to Aston Villa in the Premier League. Both teams were affected by a short turnaround between seasons to prepare adequately but it was Villa who looked miles better.

This was followed by a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace the following week with Solskjaer again purely outclassed by the experienced Roy Hodgson.

A high degree of blame on the current situation engulfing Man United should be laid at Ed Woodward and an unremarkable transfer window.

But this does not cover over the cracks that the current squad has shown little sign of improvement individually as players and collectively.

The inspired signing of Bruno Fernandes has made a significant impact on the squad but aside from that no other player stands out in making any marked improvement under Solskjaer.

With the cloud of an available Mauricio Pochettino hanging over the club, an added pressure is being placed on Man United's managerial situation.

When results fail to go as planned there is the feeling of inevitability that a change will happen sooner than later.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Sat 27 Feb 21 14:30 PM (SAST)
Manchester City
West Ham United
Etihad Stadium
Sat 27 Feb 21 17:00 PM (SAST)
West Bromwich Albion
Brighton & Hove Albion
The Hawthorns
Sat 27 Feb 21 19:30 PM (SAST)
Leeds United
Aston Villa
Elland Road
Tue 23 Feb 21
Leeds United 3
Southampton 0
Mon 22 Feb 21
Brighton & Hove Albion 1
Crystal Palace 2
Sun 21 Feb 21
Manchester United 3
Newcastle United 1
1. Manchester City
2. Manchester United
3. Leicester City
4. West Ham United