If Manchester United don’t win the silverware next season, it should be curtains for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
It has been two and a half years since he took over from Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford and the time for apologies is over.
Solskjaer, who was rewarded with a new three-year contract on Saturday, has been heavily supported in almost every window he has been in charge of the club.
United now have the biggest net spend of any Premier League club since joining and have the most expensive defender (Harry Maguire), midfielder (Paul Pogba) and winger (Jadon Sancho) in history of English football.
Sancho’s signing means the Red Devils have spent £ 616.21million on players since the 2017/18 season, according to Tranfermarkt.
With just £ 158.61million coming in for players in the same amount of time, they have a whopping £ -457.60million net spent.
With Sancho signed and a deal to bring Raphael Varane on the horizon, any silverware this season would represent a massive failure for the Norwegian.
Yes, the Red Devils came close to winning the Europa League and secured a second place last season – but their side had more than enough to challenge the Champions League last season.
The loss to Villarreal in this centerpiece and four losses in the semi-finals rightly raised questions about Solskjaer’s managerial pedigree.
And Arsenal legend Martin Keown admitted he was baffled by reports he was set to secure a new deal ahead of his announcement.
“We’re used to seeing Manchester United win things,” Keown told talkSPORT. “It’s almost a revival of Manchester United, but how long do we have to wait?
“Yes, the consistency and second place in the Premier League is probably what will get him a new contract, but as far as that goes, you have to have that way of winning. “
When asked if Solskjaer deserved a new deal, Keown replied, “If we’re going to look at the previous standards, then no.
“But by following in Sir Alex Ferguson’s footsteps, no one has been able to recreate that.
“They had a succession of managers at the club but didn’t really trust and had a working relationship [with the club] and I feel it with Ole.
“I feel, when you look at him, that he’s lucky to be really still there. He knows the standards that are set and he cannot continue to suffer disappointments, semi-final after semi-final, to reach the final.
“I think he’s lucky, but today is Manchester United.”
Another Arsenal legend Ray Parlor has suggested do or die for Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the 2021/22 campaign.
“He’s under pressure… he knows it though,” Parlor told talkSPORT last week.
“He’s a down-to-earth man and he’s been in a great locker room which has been very successful under Sir Alex Ferguson.
“He knows exactly what Manchester United is, he knows the expectations of the whole world – the support they get is incredible, probably the best in the world in the Premier League.
“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs all the help he can get and he gets some good quality players which gives him a good chance of winning trophies.
“But if he doesn’t win trophies and they have a bad season, I’m sure Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be the first to admit it didn’t work out and move on.”
United now have a truly star-studded XI and also have incredible strength at depth.
The most expensive players in the history of English football
1. Paul Pogba (Juventus at Manchester United in 2016) – £ 89million
2. Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool in 2018) – £ 75million
3. Romelu Lukaku (Everton at Manchester United in 2017) – £ 75million
4. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund at Manchester United in 2021) – £ 73million
6. Nicolas Pepe (Lille at Arsenal in 2019) – £ 72million
7. Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao at Chelsea in 2018) – £ 71million
8.Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen at Chelsea in 2020) – £ 71million
9. Alisson Becker (Rome to Liverpool 2018) – £ 67million
10. Rodri (Atletico Madrid at Manchester City in 2019) – £ 64million
They have two brilliant goalkeepers, Dean Henderson and David de Gea.
Luke Shaw is in the shape of his career and he has a more than capable backup in the form of Alex Telles.
Whereas if Varane joins Maguire at the back, they would be right to say they have the best center-back pairing in the top flight.
In the midfield they also have class in abundance, with Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek available – and rumors have even suggested they may move for Declan Rice.
They have one of the game’s most accomplished finishers leading the front line with Edinson Cavani, and three extremely talented wingers in Marcus Rashford, Sancho and Greenwood, with Daniel James in reserve.
With quality everywhere, the time for apologies is over.
Manchester United have to deliver this season – or Solskjaer should face the ax.
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