Man Utd v Cardiff City live in the Premier League – Live – BBC Sport

Man Utd v Cardiff City live in the Premier League - Live - BBC Sport

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Manchester United could call time on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign as manager if the club fails to convincingly beat relegated Cardiff on Sunday.

That’s according to Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson, who claims United’s board will be horrified by the side’s struggles in recent weeks and anything less than a handsome win on the final day could cause them to bring the axe down already on the Norwegian.

Solskjaer impressed after initially succeeding Jose Mourinho in the United hotseat, winning an impressive 17 of his first 20 games and leading the club into top four contention and the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

But since being confirmed as permanent manager, United have drastically fallen away, having won just two of their last 11 matches. The club will finish either fifth or sixth in the table and must contend themselves with Europa League football next season.

Cardiff were denied a couple of clear-cut penalties, Antonio Rudiger was booked when many felt that the Chelsea defender should have seen red, when Cardiff were one up, and Cesar Azpilicuetas 84th minute equaliser was clearly offside. Ruben Loftus-Cheek pounced in injury time to secure the win, Warnock was fuming and you really couldnt blame him. Had they claimed those points they may well have kicked on and survived.

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And Merson claims such has been United’s form of late that had Solskjaer started his reign with their current form, there would have been no chance he’d have landed the job on a permanent basis. Those views were echoed recently by Paul Ince too.

Solskjaer was given the job on a permanent basis despite back-to-back defeats – away at Arsenal in the Premier League and at Wolves in the F.A Cup – after a fine run of form prior to those two defeats, but its gone from bad to worse since and the Red Devils have now won just two of their last 11 in all competitions and both victories – 2-1 at home to both Watford and West Ham – were far from convincing.

And explaining why United could even sack Solskjaer, Merson told Sky Sports: “Nothing surprises me in football, if they lost to Cardiff who knows what would happen. I wouldnt know.

Trying to work out who starts for United isnt easy so Im not going to muddy the waters any further. The brutal truth is, regardless of team selection, the Red Devils are in such disarray that they have to be taken on at long odds-on. Theyve not kept a clean sheet since they held Liverpool to a goalless draw way back in February and two wins in 11 is a dire return for a club of Uniteds stature.

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“I dont see Solskjaer being on a Mourinho contract, where youd have to pay £15m to get him out of it – I think therell be serious meetings if they dont win this game.

It might be the toughest – but its the best job in football. I cant imagine any better place to be and any club with more potential,” the former United striker said ahead of their finale at home to already-relegated Cardiff.

“Youd have to seriously think if theyre not wiping the floor with Cardiff, theyve made a mistake with Solskjaer. If hed had this run at the start, would he be permanent manager now? No, he wouldnt.”

But despite admitting hes facing a major rebuild to make a club that hasnt won the league since mentor Alex Fergusons 2013 retirement competitive again, Solskjaer insists he wouldnt be anywhere else.

United have lavished huge sums in the transfer market in recent seasons, but Merson reckons United – who were on Friday linked with Swansea’s Dan James – reckons a change of approach is now essential.

Yes, we are behind what we have been used to. We have had some years like that now. But the year before last, Jose Mourinho won the Europa League. Then we were second in the league last season.

“Solskjaers said agents are calling him, yeah of course they are. They know United are in a situation where theyll play money willy-nilly, and willy-nilly wages, and thats whats happened for the last God-knows how long at United,” he said.

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Man Utd source reveals how many signings Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to make – Daily Star

“[Alexis] Sanchez? Man City want him, oh yeah, well pay him whatever he wants. Theyve got to draw a line sooner or later, not just bring in players because they know Manchester United will pay top dollar.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to bolster his midfield options after PSG-bound Ander Herreras exit was confirmed by the club on Saturday.

Solskjaer, meanwhile, has already waved the white flag on United’s Premier League title hopes for next season. Bad times for all connected with Old Trafford.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could lose his job if Man Utd lose to Cardiff, says Paul Merson

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will ban unfit players from joining Manchester United on their pre-season tour as he looks to use their Premier League title “advantage”.

The Senegal international has enjoyed another fine season at Goodison Park and Everton are resigned to losing him this summer.

As the only member of the top six for whom the Premier League’s final day represents their last game of the season, United will start preparations for next campaign before their direct rivals.

United believe the ex-Aston Villa mans tough-tackling style will help to bring out the best in Paul Pogba next term.

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United are scheduled to travel to Australia, Singapore and China as part of an extensive pre-season, which could yet be disrupted if Watford win the FA Cup and force Solskjaer’s side into the second qualifying round of the Europa League.

However, the Red Devils cannot offer Champions League football and that could aid PSGs pursuit of the 29-year-old.

Regardless, the Norwegian expects his squad to use the extra time at the end of this season to improve their fitness, with any players who fail to so unlikely to join them on tour.

Speaking after Phelan penned a three-year deal yesterday, Solskjaer said: “Mike is a great person to have around and has been invaluable to me since we returned in December.”

“The players have all got their programmes to do over the summer. We expect them to be ready to go on July 1 when we start,” he said.

“Manchester United has been a huge part of my life since I joined as a player in 1989 and I am delighted to be able to continue that relationship in this key role.”

“We’re not going to use the first 10 days to build them up. They should be ready to go. Weve got a longer summer break than any of the other challengers and we need to use that as an advantage.

“We have a good group of coaching staff and we are already working on the challenges that lie ahead of us as we plan for the new season and the future beyond.”

“It’s not like a threat, but whoever is not ready on July 1 will probably stay here and not travel with us because we only want players we can use over there.

A focus on recruiting younger talent will be the priority instead of marquee signings like they have done with Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez in the past.

“It’s down to me and the coaching staff. We drive this, we lead them on, but we want the players to be the main core of the surge forward, and we’ve got some experienced lads.

Solskjaer, Phelan and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward have all held meetings to discuss recruitment strategy for the upcoming transfer window.

“And we’ve spoken to them to say, ‘We expect you to take charge next year’. We want them to, because we trust them.

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“It’s about getting momentum as well. The start of the season is going to be massive for us. If we can get the momentum early on, I’m sure we can catch a few teams.

“Our supporters know football. They know that teams go in cycles at times. Now it might be the start of a new team and era.”

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