Dominic Booth Sport Content Editor 07:00, 26 SEP 2021 Sport opinion Solskjaer consoles Bruno Fernandes after United’s 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa (Image: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images) Get the United transfer latest, every day for free
Losing three out of four matches is never acceptable for a Manchester United manager, but when those three defeats come against Young Boys, and at home to West Ham and Aston Villa, it will spell trouble.
It's actually a credit to the job done by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that there's not more scrutiny on his role in the United hotseat right now, save for the usual 'Ole Out' guff on social media, and the odd washed-up radio pundit shouting into an echo chamber.
Yet you still get the sense that, should United suffer a couple more defeats, the excuses will begin to wear a bit thin for Solskjaer.
His rantings about VAR and the refereeing decisions at Old Trafford following Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Villa felt a little desperate.
Manchester United player ratings: David de Gea good but Fred poor vs Aston Villa Cristiano Ronaldo reaction shows damage to Manchester United title hopes “You can take it when it's a good goal conceded against you, but that's offside,” said Solskjaer after a dreadful afternoon for his troops.
Okay, there was a vague argument to be made that Ollie Watkins was potentially blocking David de Gea's view for Kortney Hause's winner, but this was clutching at straws in the extreme.
United's second-half performance was truly rotten and Hause's header was just punishment for their under-par display.Not even a Bruno Fernandes penalty could rescue Solskjaer this time.His missed penalty in stoppage time compounded the most abject 90 minutes imaginable.
And so Solskjaer finds himself in a position where, despite leading United to second place in the league last term – and to the brink of European silverware – his job will be scrutinised should United fail to beat Villarreal on Wednesday and Everton next Saturday lunchtime.
Progress over two-and-a-half years is all well and good, but it cannot afford to stall now.
It's ironic that the two upcoming opponents, who may define Solskjaer's future, are teams against whom his United regime has been defined so far.
A 4-0 shellacking at Everton on Easter Sunday in April 2019 prompted the Norwegian's successful 'cultural reboot' of the club, while the Europa League final against Villarreal in May so nearly broke his trophy duck.A 3-1 win away at Everton after the international break last season alleviated some serious pressure on Solskjaer's shoulders.
(Image: 2021 Manchester United FC) The Glazers and United's hierarchy have been rewarded for showing great faith in Solskjaer since permanently appointing him as Jose Mourinho's successor in early 2019.
There have been plenty of hiccups along the way, with Solskjaer sailing close to the wind on a couple of occasions with regards to his job security (not least last season before that Everton game).
But the club – spearheaded by Ed Woodward, whose loyalty to his man has been unwavering – have always given their full support.
Now, with Woodward passing over the reins to a new executive vice-chairman to work between the Glazer family and the football operation, Solskjaer could face more choppy waters.
It would be seriously foolhardy to yield to the knee-jerk demands of the social media masses and sack Solskjaer without a moment's thought, let's be clear on that.
But the United boss got what he wanted this summer in the transfer market.He got his long-time target Jadon Sancho, he got a world-class centre-back in Raphael Varane, then he got the 'GOAT' himself, Cristiano Ronaldo.
He's had the financial backing, make no mistake, for all the (understandable) murmurs about the need for a defensive midfielder.
Now is the time for United to finally challenge for major honours again, boosted by the return of a legend in Ronaldo, with Solskjaer seemingly developing well as manager.
And while the Villa reverse represents just United's first league defeat of the season, those Champions League and Carabao Cup defeats are not insignificant.It could all unravel rather quickly over the coming weeks, unless Solskjaer can get the required wins in the short-term against Villarreal and Everton before the October international break.
It won't get any easier after the break, with games against Leicester (A), Atalanta (H), Liverpool (H) and Tottenham (A).
If the next two games return two victories, you can safely put this argument to bed.
Two defeats, however, and this could turn into a turbulent time for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.Manchester United's bosses could face a serious loyalty test, again.
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