Solskjaer must go after Man Utd’s latest nadir…

Date published: Thursday 5th November 2020 8:15 - Ian Watson

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man Utd

Keep your mails coming to…

Time’s up for Ole

Where do you even start with that?

I will always maintain that the board, Woodward & Co. running the football side of the club and the players themselves are bigger problems that need to be solved, but Solskjaer is quite clearly not free from blame.

He is the manager, which means the buck stops with him. It also means, rightly or wrongly, that he is the easiest cog in the machine to throw away and replace with a new one. Of course, this won’t change the fact that the machine itself is broken…

United fans will maintain that Ole hasn’t been backed – like Jose and van Gaal before him, the board have pulled out just when they needed to put the foot down and get 2 or 3 world class players to make that final step.

Rival fans (whilst often full of s-h-one-t) are actually a good barometer of how you are performing as a club.

Would Solskjaer get the manager’s job at any other “Big Six” club? Better yet, would any club in the Premier League give up their current manager for Solskjaer? No. That can’t be right when you are manager of Manchester United!

I was gutted when Liverpool signed Thiago in the summer. They had plucked a world-class player out of a world-class team and slotted him straight in. Instantly, the only potential weakness in a team that had walked the league was addressed.

When’s the last time that United signed someone and our rivals were absolutely gutted? Robin van Persie back in 2012 I would say. That’s the real telltale sign of a bad recruitment policy.

This club is broken from top to bottom and needs an overhaul – one that it probably won’t get to be honest.

I hope Ole turns it around, I really do, and I will get behind Pochettino or whoever takes this impossible job on next, but right now, United have brought me to the worst possible point for any football fan – apathy.

There is potential with the likes of Henderson, AWB, Tuanzebe, Bruno, van de Beek, Greenwood, Rashford to build a decent team – which makes it all the more frustrating that the right people aren’t being put in place to help make this happen.

I wish this would start with Woodward out (of the football side of things at least) and a Director of Football coming in (hell, let’s have fun and give to van der Sar!), and about 14 or 15 of those players need to go too, but unfortunately for Ole, his will be the first head on the chopping block.
James, MUFC


…Football is nuanced and different lines are used that can make it confusing. Frank Lampard looks like a good coach now when in reality (as you’ve pointed out in a few articles), it was the upgrade of players in Silva and Mendy, alongside the return to form for Kante that it owes a lot more to.

Coaching > buying. Buying > coaching. Klopp is brilliant, but couldn’t coach Moreno to be Robertson.

Ole got United to third in the league. He was never the best manager around (not the best tactician in Europe) but he definitely wasn’t the worst and was a fit for the club, and he didn’t get backed this year. I know he spent last summer, but this squad genuinely needed at least 8 new players last summer, and got a few of them but not enough. Sometimes you really do need to change a lot. I don’t care how much they were bought for, some are just not that good.

The difference to last year when results went against him was that Ole seemed to be willing to grind it out until he got his players. This summer seems to have taken his fight; I watch every United match and it seems he almost doesn’t want the job anymore. You also rightly pointed out Mourinho’s mood change to positive and I’d throw in Sean Dyche’s change to negative for how much transfers matter to managers.

A few years ago, Mourinho was a few games into his second season and United were flying; scoring for fun and keeping pace with City. Liverpool were starting slow and United went to Anfield and parked the bus and everything changed around the team and manager. It was that game that put the writing on the wall for Mourinho, it just took a long time after it.

The writing is now completely on the wall for Ole, some of it his own lack of ability, but not all of it. He could be gone in the international break and I wouldn’t begrudge him if he wanted to out a few truths as he did. His biographer, Jamie Jackson, found out during his time at Cardiff, Ole was being told who to play by the owner and Mourinho alluded to things in his final days, and I’d wonder how much is actually being devised by Ed Woodward and co.

Again, he’s not a genius, but if getting to third against Liverpool and City doesn’t allow for more spending, what does?

And Gary Neville should watch Jack Grealish play the next time he wants to excuse Pogba because of the players around him.
James (had to get Pogba in somehow, didn’t I?) Galway


…I’m really at a loss how to explain what I have just witnessed. I’ve seen some pretty amateurish football in my day, growing up watching Exeter City was no picnic, but I’m pretty sure, tonight’s game was the worst Man Utd performance I have seen in years. We have been blessed with some real shockers, but tonight, against a team that consisted of a former Liverpool keeper and defender and Demba Ba who I thought retired a couple years ago from a nose bleed he sustained when making the most of That Gerrard slip.
They also had one of the players I still, to this day, cannot understand why we sold him. Rafael, Utd fans still love this guy and he was there last night proving a point. We now have Wan-Bissaka, a 50 million maybe when Rafa could and should have still been there.
If there was a social service department for goal posts then last night, they would have been arrested for criminal neglect. Harry went on about having leaders, real leaders in that team. Where?
As a central defender his first job is to protect his keeper, protect the goal. As captain he should make sure that you are not leaving precisely nobody back at a corner in the what? The 12th minute….
We conceded within seconds from our own corner. Is that another record we’ve managed to achieve?
The second goal was almost as bad. I’ve watched it back and still can’t see where Wan wondered off to. I think Shaw at the time was playing left sided striker.
You know what it was like? Playing a game of fifa with 11 mates all controlling their own player.
It got to the point where you just thought, any minute now they will realise that everyone chasing after the ball like you’re a 6 year old in a PE lesson, doesn’t work. Then again, when nothing but a glorified PE teacher is the boss, are we expecting anything else?

Just how far have we fallen? It’s not embarrassing for just Utd though. PSG and Leipzig must have been sat there wondering how, in any sane universe, Utd beat them. Now that’s embarrassing.

The substitutions were bizarre to say the least. Tuanzebe off and I think, Matic went back to play defender. When he had 2 defenders on the bench.
Possibly the best of a terrible bunch was Beek, so no surprise that he was removed for the ever inspiring, natural leader and match savior Pogba. Ah, yeah… I think I’ve covered him enough.
Timothy Fosu Mensah, the guy who couldn’t get a game in a relegated Fulham side when he was on loan entered the fray. Good job he did as he had to dig Maguire out. Maguire is so slow it takes him an hour to watch 15 minutes. I watched the game on Bulgarian TV and whenever they said Maguire, it sounded like they were saying Meg Ryan, so he’s also guilty for ruining one of my favourite movie scenes as well.

How can a team with the likes of Rashford, Martial, Cavani, Greenwood, Fernandes and Beek, who were all on at one time or another, produce so little? Forget about the defense, that attack is just as criminally neglected.
Martial will never be a striker, yet Greenwood is a striker and given half a chance will score, so let’s play Greenwood any where but striker so he can pass it for the non striker.

That’s the thing though. We have nobody who can create consistently. Ole’s game plan is devoid of all aspects that he had as a player. Which is just baffling. He’s expecting us to play with wingbacks who can’t cross and when they are up there losing the ball, nobody is filling in for them as the midfield is so narrow it’s a almost like we are playing 4-1-1-1-1-1-1. You can miss off the last 1 if Pogba is on the pitch.

All in all, I think the time has come. I feel the Utd fans have given Ole a fair go and it just isn’t going to work. Granted, almost the entire squad is not good enough to seriously challenge for major honours. There are far too many bang average players in there that wouldn’t start for a number of other EPL sides. The very least anyone expects is a plan of some sorts. From the outside looking in, it’s almost like he believes he has a fantastic starting 11 that will create and score lots of goals whilst shutting the opposition out. And it’s just bad luck that he’s had the results he’s had.

Utd should be generally worried if Ole is still there at Christmas. So if I was you, depending on which side you sit, I’d either start worrying, or rejoicing to the possibility of the great Manchester United fighting a relegation battle.
Marc The Mancunian living in a sunny place.

READ MORE: Sorry excuses are the only ones left for Solskjaer

…Having stuck up for Ole countless times I am now in the sorry position to say Ole out, the substitutions he made were just bizarre, the first goal was schoolboy stuff and why no one on the bench pointed out Ba stood on his own I’m at a loss. So sorry Ole we love you for what you did but your constant pandering to the waste of space Pogba and your inability to see Maguire as a Rymans league centre half has done it for me. United need a top tier manager who can get a tune from this disparate bunch of misfits. #oleout
Paul Murphy, Manchester


…Surely the end is near? Defeat on Saturday which I believe will happen surely will be the end of Ole as Manchester United manager. If we lose we are so far of the pace it’s heartbreaking with only 7 games played. We obviously aren’t going to win the league but top 4 could be out of the picture by January 1st. With the international break coming aswell I think the board will see it as a good time to get a new manager in so he has a few weeks to get settled. There is a reason why Pochettino is still unemployed. Let’s not pretend he hasn’t been inundated with different offers.
Charlie, Northern Ireland


…That’s the most calamitous defending I have seen in my 20 years of watching Man U. That was amateur defending. The first goal was inexplicable. It is becoming harder to defend Like and his troops when they conjure such nonsensical displays. What was that? If you have to pin a team in their box, you leave one or two players at the back. Secondly why was everyone in the box in the 12th minute?

I also take issue with Ole’s experiments. What defensive formation was this? Why play Matic in defense when we have Lindelof? Where is Bailly? Why did we buy Telles if Shaw keeps playing? Why is McTominay playing every games and he adds no value? Why does he keep chopping midfielders in every game? Today play Fred and Scott, next game play Pogba and Mata, next play RVB and Matic. What is your best midfield combination player and why?
You can’t have a manager doing guesswork. Last season we had a 4-3-3 doing well. He meets Chelsea in the FA Cup and changes it completely. We lost badly. This is topical Ole.

Maguire must Go?!!
Abner -Kenya


Breaking Bruno

It’s only taken 10 months, but we have finally managed to break Bruno Fernandes and bring him down to our level. It was fun while it lasted but that’s why we can’t have nice things!
Kieran (Perth, the Scottish place)


…On days like this, is it possible for someone to run a bonus mailbag so that we can immediately see fans of big team X freak out over the ineptitude of their manager/players/club hierarchy/etc.? I’m giddy thinking about all the unopened emails sitting in the F365 inbox that form the collective sh*t United fans are flipping at the moment.

Since someone writes a post-match response anyway (in this case, Matt Stead), I figured it wouldn’t be too much to ask and fairly easy to execute…although I’d understand if over in the UK no one cares about what Americans want cause many (maybe even most) Americans suck.

MAW, LA Gooner (personally, I refer to myself as “Californian”)


Champions League from the Championship

Enjoyed the article about players who won the champions league but didn’t do so well in their own league. Got me wondering about what would happen if Man Utd won the champions league but got relegated. Surely no team has ever defended the champions league from the second division. How would it work. Because there are more games in the championship and they often play midweek when the champions league and europa league are on. Just wondered if anyone knew what uefa or the FA would do.


Blue wall

We remain unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions, another clean sheet, another reasonable good performance, Edouard Mendy has to be our signing of the season by a country mile, perhaps even in the Top 5 of signings of the season overall based on how he has improved our team, fantastic stuff.

One thing I will say is that handball rule is quite something, not in a good way, was the referee right to blow for a penalty? yes, that is the rule, was it a second yellow? yes, that is the rule, does it make any sense? No, no that rule does not make sense at all and many will agree, but that is the current state of it and we have to hope it gets adjusted sometime soon.
Mikey, CFC


Fixed it for you

After you published this gem, Kepa was replaced by Mendy and Chelsea have gone on a winning streak, collecting multiple clean sheets in a row. Talk about timing an article to perfection.
Rahul, India (By the way, do you know who was the manager during this run?)


Handball rule

Having just watched the Chelsea highlights, i wanted to get ahead of the ‘game’s gone’ mailers and point out that a pen and an automatic yellow is just the latest of a long line of pro-attacking rule changes over many years (clue: it’s entertainment, not sport). If you’re under 25, you might not remember that last man tackles and two footed lunges didn’t always get straight reds, so defenders weren’t always criticised as reckless or naive for doing them (or strikers elbowing in the face). Pretty soon, all defenders will catch on to what the smart ones are already doing when facing up to a shot, which is putting their hands behind their back while still getting their legs and body in the way. For these elite decision-making athletes it won’t be a big adjustment, especially with analysts telling them that most shots that hit their arms are going over the bar.
Shappo (the game has been ‘going’ for 60 years)


Real tactics

Love your work usually but the F365’s Early Winner column is way off the mark.

Benzema’s comments were not deeply hurtful. They were probably meant as a joke between two countrymen. But of course I don’t know the truth, nor does anyone else except them. Similarly, we don’t know Vinicius was hurt or he laughed given he must already be used to the stick for his ridiculously poor finishing by fans.

The article implies that Barca game was won down to tactical decision to create space for onrushing midfielders by Vini stretching the play. Now, in my opinion, this should be the ideal tactic but it was exception to the rule. Watch that full game or any other and you will find the midfielders don’t rush into the box but pass around outside it and send in crosses from deep which are easily cleared before reaching double marked Benzema. Valverde making that run was literally the only incident of an onrushing midfielder.

Also, that goal against Inter was exception to the rule. ZZ bringing on Vini and Rodrygo late in the game is no surprise but their usual method of operation is Vini trying to get past defenders and either running into blind alleys or taking impossible shots. For once, against Inter fot that goal, they played to their strength. Rodrygo cut inside and offered options in the box while Vini instead of running on the ball, made a run off it receiving the ball in space and crossed it well like he should be doing.
But again, this isn’t a pattern of play that you would often see while Real Madrid are playing so crediting ZZ for something like that is a bit like taking the easy option.

If anything, one can question why ZZ is reluctant to unleash one of the THREE central midfielders until it’s too late. See Valverde’s run ending in a goal against Barca and his through ball for Vincius resulting in the goal against Inter.

Good to see that other leagues are being covered regularly these days. Keep up the great work!
The Vocal Minority


Fold Barca

First ten minutes of Barca vs Dynamo Kiev in The Champion’s League and it’s a ‘training session’ for Barca according to BT Sport. Could have been three goals up in the first five minutes. It’s a stroll in the park. This might get to double figures…..
Cut to an hour later and Barca are mere minutes away from being declared bankrupt as a football club and put into administration.

Steady on chaps!


Firmino’s role

In response to Brian (Wexford), Roberto Firmino is my favourite Liverpool player. We haven’t exactly been starved of goals in the past few years, so his contributions are there to see, albeit not always on the scoresheet. Yes he’s been out of form lately, so what? People think the evidence that he is out of form is because of the lack of goals, but if you watch the team week in week out, you’ll see that it’s the link up stuff he does that he’s been struggling with.

So it’s not his goals that we’ve been missing. It’s his impact as one of the eleven. So with Jota getting a chance and managing to be as prolific as he has been, we’ve managed to get by without Firmino. Don’t be fooled into thinking that our creativity is as good as it ever was just because Jota has been scoring. He’s just been more clinical than Mane and Salah.

But it’s by far not the end of Firmino. He’s as crucial as ever. I certainly hope so anyway. Funny how Mane and Salah have been dropped/rotated more than Firmino has but no one bats an eyelid at that.
Gerard, Belfast


Karius home

I don’t know what point The_M_Rod thought he was answering when he snidely cited Karius in yesterday afternoon’s mailbox. Mike LFC wrote about Klopp ‘creating a positive atmosphere for his players, never complaining about injuries and never criticizing the squad players ala Mourinho’. How is Karius a counterexample to any of those things? If anything, Karius is a perfect example of how positively Klopp treats his underperforming squad players – the LFC fanbase was so harshly critical of Karius because it really truly felt like the club hierarchy was going to persist with the Karius delusion instead of signing a top class goalkeeper. Who knows whether they would have sanctioned a 60 million pound outlay had Liverpool fans not been up-in-arms against Karius.

It is entirely fair to glibly remark on the concept of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” in the context of the unbridled rage sent in Karius’ direction. Personally I would argue the abuse he received post-summer-vacation-instagram-photos was his own doing, but I totally understand why rival fans would cite this as a humorous example of LFC fan hypocrisy. (You can make a similar point about Lovren, and I would make a similar point too, ie. that LFC fans would not be so critical of Lovren if he was not so full-of-praise for himself).
Oliver (strangely West Ham, Aston Villa and Brighton executives seem less concerned with COVID this time around, funny that, innit? Despicable self-serving hypocrites the lot of them) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


Puns aplenty

Watching the holy triumvirate of Bake off, Liverpool and the US election last night, a call went out to our 9 strong group of school mates for Bake off Liverpool puns.
I’ll spare you the hilarious ‘bantz’ of the group, but in the hour and 45 minutes that ensued, I’d love to share with you what happened.
Not gonna lie, I was amazed by how many the hive mind came up with, some are shit, some don’t really make sense, but all made me laugh.
Hope this spreads a bit of joy in these dark times:

Allison Baker
Sean Dundee Cake
Patrick Berger Bun
John Scales
Robbie Flour
Stan Caulimore
Phil Kebab
Steve Macornaman
Flan Collymore
Jamie Redknapple pie
Igor Biscuit
Steve Pieway
Miflan Baros
Javier Marscarpone
John Naane Riise
Virgil Flan Dijk
Fernandough Torres
Flanaando Torres
Michael Oven
Djibril Seasalt
Djimi traybake ore
Bruno Cheyroux
Diego Hota
Florent cinnamon cake pongolle
Diwok Origi
Jari Lemonen
Alex oxo cube chamberlain
Jammy Carragher
Paul Mince
Dietmar Hamandpineapple
El Hadji Soufflé
Julians Spotted Dicks
Neil Ruduck l’orange
Mark Wrights Pies
Veggard Heggem
Bruce Grobblelard
Gerard toad in the holier
Jaffacake Benitez
Soy Evans
Roy Ovens
Breaden Rodgers
Nigel Spamman
Kenny Cheesecake
Bob Parsley
Bill Lambshankly
Pegguy Arphexalad
Graeme Soupness
Jan Mouldy
Harry Gruel
Trent Alexander Almond
Fig Inge Bjournabye
Ronnie Rosendhal
Chris (how about Brian Eclair to kick off the Utd ones) Bodych


Chairboys cheer

Just a quick word on Wycombe – promoted (controversially) to the Championship for the first time in their history on points per game last year they delighted the naysayers by losing their first seven games. They weren’t hopeless, just didn’t get the rub of the green. But a hard fought draw against Watford was the spark and they’ve now beaten Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham in successive games to move ahead of Derby.

It’s going to be a long season and one that will probably end in relegation, but the fact a team which until this season hadn’t paid a transfer fee for eight years (and have now broken the bank for £50k Daryl Horgan) is competing in the Championship is a real good news story. Just a shame no fans can be there to see it.

Will, LFC

There are no Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester City representatives in our rundown of the top ten players of the season. Nor Manchester United, of course, but Jay Rodriguez gets in?!

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