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.
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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.
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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.
“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.”
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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“[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.”
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.
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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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”