Manchester United face Watford in the Premier League on Saturday, and the match could prove the moment of truth for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has to make some important decisions.
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still employed by Manchester United, but his situation is dangerous.
The United hierarchy has recently made it clear that they do not want to fire Solskjaer, but if the results continue on the current downward trajectory, they will have no choice.
Instead of being the restorative process that was announced, the international rupture further weakened Solskjaer’s position with speculation about his future.
The appointment of Antonio Conte at Tottenham was undeniably a boost for the Norwegian, who could well cling to his work for lack of viable alternatives.
It is this scenario that makes Saturday’s Premier League match against Watford absolutely crucial for the United boss. You need a result, and you have to be convincing.
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After Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing, United secured a 3-0 win over Tottenham; Claudio Ranieri’s erratic Watford team needs to provide a similar short-term remedy for the team’s ills.
Of course, there are many barriers to achieving such a result. Anyone who has seen any of United’s recent games will know the predominant themes of their failure.
They are disarticulated out of possession, passive in it, sloppy in their own frame and amazingly dependent on Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal-scoring genius.
Solskjaer tried to solve these fundamental problems in the last three games by changing from their usual 4-2-3-1 formation to a more cautious 3-4-1-2 system, but it didn’t make much of a difference. with the Spurs winning followed by a Ronaldo draw in the last breath in the 2-2 draw against Atalanta and a shamefully one-sided 2-0 defeat to Manchester City.
What can make the difference is doing something that the Norwegian seems reluctant to try: making changes wholesale.
Despite United’s roller coaster shape, Solskjaer has been reluctant to rotate his side much in recent months. And that approach has alienated from those who are forced to sit on the bench each game and watch as the chaotic drama unfolds.
KNOW YOUR OPINION! Which formation should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer choose on Saturday? Comment below.
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Agree with The Telegraph, several players are “increasingly frustrated” by Solskjaer’s favoritism. Many stayed at United in the summer after having guarantees of playing time, only to be frozen once football started.
United’s cast of unhappy faces has become a family spectacle in recent games on the bench: Donny van de Beek, Jesse Lingard, Alex Telles, Anthony Martial, Diogo Dalot, Juan Mata and Dean Henderson.
Although the change in training benefited Eric Bailly, it did not save any of the aforementioned players.
However, if Solskjaer wants to save his job, Watford’s match offers him a perfect opportunity to shake things up and re-engage his team’s mutinous fringes.
Among others, Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, Fred and Victor Lindelof are currently out of international service.
Saturday’s game offers the perfect excuse to turn your side and get your hands on the frustrated bankers. This would appease them and also send a message to the regulars of the first team that bad performances have consequences.
Shaw, Fernandes and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have been well below the level recently and need to know that they are facing competition for their positions. Telles, Van de Beek and Dalot can provide that.
Ronaldo is 36 years old and played 90 minutes in Portugal’s two disappointing qualifiers for the World Cup against Ireland and Serbia.
It may seem like a heresy – and it will almost certainly hold a grudge – but the truth is, it can be used from the bench. United have other options they can cover.
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Bets are high for Solskjaer, who knows that if a bold selection call fails, he will be left even more open to criticism.
But the reality is that you have to take some risks. His loyalty to low-performing players is hurting the team and it’s time for things to get to the top.
If you are going to go down, then you can also go down swinging.