Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s future as Manchester United manager is once again in question after his side crashed out of the Uefa Champions League.
United travelled to RB Leipzig on Tuesday needing just a draw to seal their place in the last 16 of the competition. However, a 3-2 loss means the Red Devils failed to qualify from the group and now have to settle for Europa League football.
The Champions League exit, and the comments from Paul Pogba’s agent claiming the midfielder is “unhappy”, have not helped Solskjaer’s cause. And things won’t get any easier for the under-fire United boss as his team host rivals Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday.
Solskjaer’s lack of “champion-manager edge” was “brutally exposed” by Julian Nagelsmann’s Leipzig, says The Guardian’s Barney Roney. The opening 20 minutes, in which Leipzig went 2-0 up, showed Nagelsmann’s “tactical supremacy” and this period ultimately decided the match.
It also “flagged up the lack of clarity, of real champion-manager drive that separates Solskjaer in this company”, Roney adds. It was the moment “United’s nice guy met a genuine cutting edge”.
Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson also believes that the United boss got it “horribly, horribly wrong” at the start of the game.
“That result didn’t show well for Solskjaer,” said Merson. “You cannot give these teams in Europe a two or three-goal head-start. You are going to get caught out and they got caught out in a big game.
“This is Manchester United. They need to be in the Champions League, not Thursday night football. The biggest team in the world, in my opinion, are out of the Champions League.”
Leading the sack race
One of the favourite chants sung by United supporters is Ole’s at the wheel, Tell me how does it feel?. Judging by the events of the past few days – and the reaction by some fans on social media – the Norwegian’s time in charge could soon be over.
The Daily Mail, citing odds from Betfair, reports that Solskjaer is now favourite to be the first Premier League manager to get the sack this season. He’s 2/1 to get fired and former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is the 4/9 favourite to take over at Old Trafford.
If Solskjaer is relieved of his duties, then Pochettino could be joined on the shortlist by Nagelsmann, ex-Juventus head coach Max Allegri and Southampton’s Ralph Hasenhuttl, says iNews.
‘United must act now’
Former Tottenham manager Pochettino could be the man to “repair” broken Man Utd, says The Telegraph’s Matt Law. The Argentine has been out of work for more than a year since being sacked by Spurs and is “more than ready” to return.
With Pochettino also linked with Real Madrid, United “should act now before they miss out on the injection of energy they so desperately need”, says Law.
For the time being though, Ole remains “at the wheel” and has the small matter of a Manchester derby to prepare for. Speaking in Germany after the Leipzig defeat, the United boss told BT Sport: “You can’t feel sorry for yourself. We have to focus on Saturday.”