Ronaldo-de Gea FC

Solskjaer's side suffered a humiliating 0-5 defeat at the hands of their biggest rivals in English football Liverpool at home. Defeat 3 years ago to the same opponents at Anfield led to the sacking of Jose Mourinho though the score was less embarrassing 1-3. Yet Manchester United board caught by surprise with a sudden and alarming drop in performance persisted with the Norwegian to see another humbling 0-2 loss to local rivals City in a derby match where no players except David de Gea and Cristiano Ronaldo showed any fight. Mid-week United drew 2-2 away at Atalanta to top their group in Champions' League thanks to two strikes from Ronaldo. Ronaldo has scored five goals in four group games to keep United in the hunt. 

Ronaldo and de Gea have been consistently papering over cracks to save the blushes of the entire team especially the two hero's from England's Euro 2020 in captain Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw. Despite having Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly as cover at centre-backs and Alex Telles at left-back, Solskjaer persisted with the same duo time and again. United struggle to control the ball from midfield with McTominay and Fred while no new recruits were added in the summer to augment that deficiency. Pogba was pushed deeper that resulted in him losing his form that saw him earlier create 5 assists in a single game and later dropped to the bench for crucial games against Liverpool and City! Greenwood's form has also tapered out. Bruno Fernandes' influence has not been sustained through the game but just in a few moments due to dysfunctional midfield. Rashford has been rushed back from injury. Jadon Sancho played out of position on left wing that is hampering him to gain confidence to justify his £73million fee. Die-hard academy graduate Jesse Lingard under utilized. These decision's neither gives afflicted players any respite to think through nor boost morale of squad players eager for an opportunity. What's the point then of having such a large squad that the manager has always been asking for?

LDLLWL has been their form guide picking just one point in their last four home games! Signs of disarray in their calamitous game-play evident from that fortuitous away win at Wolves the 3rd league game of the season but lessons weren't learned and situation allowed to deteriorate. United rank bottom in the Premier League on 20th place for 'total tackles' and 'duels won' and 18th for 'interceptions', 'aerial duels' and 'recoveries' tell a horrifying tale of players not applying themselves on training pitch which ultimately manifests on matchdays! If United have fallen so sharply in recent weeks although performances have been poor apart from the opening game against Leeds, why have the club still kept faith in Solskjaer? 

Lack of risk management from NYSE listed club's board and player morale. His man-management has been good with the first team squad except a few. United's stock has declined to $15.60 last Friday from a high of $20.50 on 27th September that is 23.9% decline in less than a month! Board cannot sustain Solskjaer if results do not improve immediately. The board respect the fact that Solskjaer has stood by them when no structure existed to support the manager resulting in only two of five transfers windows being excellent - Bruno Fernandes and this summer's recruits. Squad has been overhauled completely without public fallout and the famed youth academy re-grouped. Ed Woodward stepping down at the end of the year the board might not want to make a crucial change now. Solskjaer has come out stronger after the International break usually and got a result somehow when he needed the most. United need to go on an unbeaten run but face league leaders Chelsea after playing Watford on 20th November. They must qualify to knockout stages of Champions' League to save Solskjaer. But if that is achieved without a conviction of a playing style and changes to the squad demonstrating an evolution of game-play, how long might that last?

To steady the ship Solskjaer has been a good choice till now. However the sheer quality of players now at United would not suffer mediocrity for too long and that has been the true testament of squad overhaul that Solskjaer has achieved with clubs full backing. Board however will be inclined to believe that its still early days of the new season and Champions' League qualification for next season is not ruled out yet due to the sheer number of match-winners in the United squad. Next break from hectic schedule of 3 games per week will be in mid-December after the facing Brighton to do the change by which time either United would have steadied themselves or ruled themselves out of the reckoning based on recent form.

Erik ten Hag and Brendan Rodgers are two obvious candidates as PSG would not allow Mauricio Pochettino to leave mid-season especially after signing Lionel Messi while Zinedine Zidane might not fancy coming to England over his preferred choice of France and Spain. If an interim coach is needed clubs usually go to their technical director i.e., Darren Fletcher who has UEFA Pro license and should be eligible. Flipside would be that many of the backroom staff tend to be retained. Scotland manager Steve Clarke who got the best out of McTominay and Brighton manager Graham Potter must be also considered in the shortlist. Gone are the days when the progression was incremental and tier based. Brighton are below United by just the goal difference. If United do not target any modern manager than least they could do is to look at Potter, just 46 would represent a transformational move that United can be cited to have set a trend among the elite clubs across Europe.

For now, hope Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turns it around for weathering the storm so gracefully. Norwegian has always put the club first which every genuine United fan appreciates.

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