Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will determine his Manchester United fate in six games
There’s not much to be happy about for Manchester United at the moment and many fans will be feeling the same frustrations that Cristiano Ronaldo visibly displayed upon the full-time whistle on Saturday.
The 1-1 draw with Everton meant United have won just one of their last four games in all competitions — all of which have been at home.
What once was a fortress in Old Trafford is now almost a ruin, with 35 points dropped over the last 25 matches there.
Despite all the millions and millions of pounds spent to construct one of the most expensively assembled squads of all time, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side still aren’t able to control games. They rely on moments of individual brilliance to get results.
The midfield remains a big problem, several players are playing well below their high standard — perhaps due to fatigue after such a busy summer — and the new signings haven’t quite had the impact on results that was expected.
And things are only going to get tougher from here on in.
The optimism that was palpable following the opening day thumping of Leeds United, and then again following the arrival of Ronaldo has completely dried up. Now, there is mounting pressure on Solskjaer to deliver.
On the face of things, United aren’t in a bad position. They currently sit 4th and are only 2points off top spot. They’re keeping pace with the usual favourites and, for now, are firmly in the title race.
Yet, with the favourable start they have had they could be in a much more commanding position.
United are yet to have faced their title rivals or any of last season’s top five whereas Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City have all competed against each other. F
our of United’s seven games have been against opponents in the bottom half of the table and their toughest match so far, which they actually did win, was the away trip to West Ham — but even that came just a few days on from the Hammers’ trip to Zagreb and needed a last gasp David de Gea penalty save.
So far United have dropped points to Southampton, Aston Villa and Everton, all teams that they simply have to be beating to be serious title challengers, with two of them being faced at home.
Now things are going to drastically pick up in difficulty.
Following the international break, United’s next four league fixtures will see them face Leicester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and City, with two challenging and crucial matches against Atalanta in the Champions League wedged in-between.
That is going to be an incredibly challenging three-week period that has the potential to make or break United’s season, and thus Solskjaer’s reign as manager.
If United are still within touching distance of their competitors come 3pm on November 6 — which could certainly happen, especially with how Solskjaer’s side seems to play better against the bigger teams — and are on their way to qualification to the knock-out stages, then there would be renewed optimism that the Norwegian is the right man for the job.
However, the wind is not blowing in United’s direction. If Solskjaer can’t arrest the issues in the middle of the park or get his creative players firing, then their current form suggests that the upcoming matches could be very, very difficult.
Solskjaer had admitted himself that United need to go the distance in the fight for silverware this season, and a run of poor results over the next six matches could see them KO’d in an early round — which might just be goodnight on his time in the hot seat.
That’s not to say that Solskjaer hasn’t done a good job, the team is in a much better place than it was when he found it, but he may have taken them as far as he can.