OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER faces a make-or-break game this weekend, taking on high-flying Everton in the Premier League on Saturday.
With the pressure mounting on the Manchester United boss, Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with the job – installed as the early favourite to finally take over at Old Trafford.
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Tom McDermott lists five things the Norwegian must do if he is to save his job.
PLAY WITH WIDTH
Solskjaer opted for the diamond during the 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal, which meant Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba were expected to provide width when they could – a tactic which failed catastrophically.
The boss unleashed the diamond again in the 2-1 defeat at Istanbul Basaksehir – with Juan Mata and Donny van de Beek tasked with adding width from within… again, it backfired.
If this is the way Solskjaer intends to go in the future, then the pressure will be on Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw to deliver in the attacking third – and they simply aren’t good enough at that.
Alex Telles is capable but he’s yet to establish himself after testing positive for coronavirus.
Solskjaer simply must revert to 4-3-3 / 4-2-3-1 which has the flexibility to revert to 4-5-1 when out of possession and provide some much-needed width during the different phases of play.
The Frenchman has flattered to deceive since he returned to the club.
Constantly flirting with a move to Real Madrid, he’s once again failing to deliver on the field for Man Utd.
In previous years United didn’t have enough quality to drop him, but Van de Beek was signed in the summer from Ajax and each time he’s been called upon, he’s done well.
The frustration with Pogba is that we appear to be having this discussion each season.
It needs to stop. The 2018 World Cup winner needs to spend time on the bench and then sold at the first available opportunity.
STICK WITH A BEST XI
You expect changes from time-to-time both in terms of team selection and formation.
But Solskjaer makes so many you could forgive the players if they started to become a little confused.
Solskjaer’s selection is always made with the opposition in mind and not focused enough on the damage his own side can cause teams.
There’s enough attacking quality in that United squad to beat most sides in Europe, as we’ve seen against Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig.
But until Solskjaer settles on a more 'stable' XI – in both formation and personnel – we’ll see blip after blip.
RECRUIT IN JANUARY
We saw the impact Bruno Fernandes had last January when he signed for the club – and if Solskjaer manages to survive until the winter window, he needs to spend again.
United signed the wrong players in the summer and if it means part of the summer budget is moved forward to January , then that is what must happen.
Failure to be in that top four next May means Solskjaer will lose his job anyway.
KEEP THINGS SIMPLE
Istanbul Basaksehir hadn't scored a single goal in the Champions League this season – until they came up against United, who TWICE defended appallingly to drop three points in Turkey.
United would have been hoping for a morale boost ahead of their tricky trip to Everton.
But after committing all TEN outfield players to an attack just 15 minutes into the game in Istanbul, Solskjaer should perhaps keep things a little bit more simple at Goodison Park.
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