Wed. Oct 21st, 2020

Man Utd

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What now for Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and under-fire chief Ed Woodward? 

4 min read

‘Lads, it’s Man United …’ This shocking, spineless excuse for a performance is what we came to expect from Tottenham at their most timid down the years.

The kind of tame surrender that led Sir Alex Ferguson to once start his team talk with that most withering of putdowns.

Now the same could be said of this United team, such a pale imitation of Ferguson’s great sides that you wonder just where they go next.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has described Man United's 6-1 defeat to Spurs as his 'worst day'

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has described Man United’s 6-1 defeat to Spurs as his ‘worst day’ 

Solskjaer said his side were 'nowhere near good enough' in a brutal post-mortem of the game

Solskjaer said his side were ‘nowhere near good enough’ in a brutal post-mortem of the game

It would be possible to dismiss a 6-1 capitulation as a one-off brought on by the harsh dismissal of Anthony Martial in the first half. Possible but unwise.

If this was an aberration then how do you explain the comprehensive 3-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace a fortnight ago? Or the incredibly fortunate 3-2 win at Brighton last week that should have ended in a comfortable win for the home side?

United could easily be on zero points now with a goal difference well into minus double figures after three games.

Throughout this horror show, the television cameras focused morbidly on Ed Woodward sat on his own in the stands. The United chief swigged nervously on a bottle of water, no doubt hoping there was something a little stronger inside and that his mask was big enough to cover the rest of his face.

Where now for Woodward? If he thought the rather puzzling move for Edinson Cavani over the weekend would appease fans fretting over United’s lack of progress with one day now left of the transfer window, any vague sense of optimism was ruthlessly snuffed out by Spurs — and Jose Mourinho of all people.

Oh, how he must have loved this. Not only beating his old club but stuffing six goals past them playing some quite wonderful football.

The result puts pressure on chief Ed Woodward to sign players before the window shuts

The result puts pressure on chief Ed Woodward to sign players before the window shuts

As brilliant as Spurs were, United were awful. Cavani’s signing feels like a sticking plaster and not a very good one at that.

Having spent the entire window pursuing a deal for Jadon Sancho, a young right winger who seems a perfect fit for United’s ethos under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Woodward inexplicably went out and signed a 33-year-old centre forward.

Cavani is expected to have a medical on Monday along with Alex Telles after United agreed a deal in principle for the FC Porto left back worth £13.5million plus £1.8m in add-ons.

United’s other signing is a midfielder, £40m Dutchman Donny van de Beek, who has started on the bench in all three league games — much to the disgust of his agent.

All of which has rather ignored the yawning requirement for a new centre back. Eric Bailly was even worse on Sunday than the man he replaced, the hapless Victor Lindelof. 

Harry Maguire is so shaky at the moment that questions are not only being asked about his state of mind following his arrest on Mykonos but United’s sanity in paying £80m for him in the first place.

United are close to signing Edinson Cavani on a free transfer after his release from PSG

United are close to signing Edinson Cavani on a free transfer after his release from PSG

Eric Bailly struggled from the off against Spurs and was even worse than Victor Lindelof

Eric Bailly struggled from the off against Spurs and was even worse than Victor Lindelof

However, it would be wrong to single them out because no-one in a red shirt walked away from this debacle with any credit.

At least when Ferguson’s side lost 6-1 at home to Manchester City nine years ago this month, they conceded three late goals chasing the game out of pride.

When Solskjaer sent on Scott McTominay and Fred for Bruno Fernandes and Nemanja Matic at half-time here, it felt as though the white flag was already going up at 4-1. Spurs scored another two and it could have been worse.

Solskjaer admitted that the 4-0 defeat at Everton in April 2019 was his lowest point as United manager, but this was worse.

‘One or two had their last chance,’ he reflected earlier this year.

‘I can, with hand on heart, 100 per cent say these boys will never give in and never give up like that team did. These are the boys we want to build the next team around.’

Solskjaer said afterwards that the defeat was worse than the 4-0 loss against Everton last year

Solskjaer said afterwards that the defeat was worse than the 4-0 loss against Everton last year

The Red Devils were second best in a display that has sent shockwaves through the club

The Red Devils were second best in a display that has sent shockwaves through the club

So how does he explain this? How does he defend his new, improved team? Because for all the world they look a shambles right now.

As the final whistle blew here and a suitably eerie silence descended on Old Trafford, the cameras refocused on Woodward who looked to be in a state of advanced shell-shock.

He knows this is not a problem that can be solved overnight. Thank goodness the transfer window doesn’t close at 11 o’clock tonight.

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