OLIVER HOLT: Solskjaer MUST go, but he's not the root of United's woes

OLIVER HOLT: Solskjaer MUST go, but he’s not the root of the problem… Ed Woodward and Richard Arnold have turned Manc United into mediocrity and should follow him out the door

  • REPORT: Manchester United are left in disarray as Watford put FOUR past them
  • All the blame for United’s failings cannot all be assigned to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 
  • He has to go now, no question, but executives need to be also held accountable 
  • Man United goalkeeper David de Gea ripped into ‘EMBARRASSING’ 4-1 defeat
  • Bruno Fernandes seen angrily wagging fingers at booing fans after shock loss 

Now, finally, the dithering and the dissembling of the mediocrities who run what used to be a football club called Manchester United has to stop. 

After managerial mistake after mistake, the jumped-up accountants who rule at Old Trafford have no choice but to accept their last throw of the dice did not work. 

If they had an ounce of self-awareness, men like executive vice chairman Ed Woodward and managing director Richard Arnold would fire Ole Gunnar Solskjaer today and then follow him straight out of the door.

Solskjaer has to go. It does not matter any more that he scored United’s winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final. It does not matter that some of his ex-team-mates are squeamish about saying he should be fired. It does not matter that he is a thoroughly nice man.  

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job is hanging by a thread following a damning 4-1 defeat at Watford

Richard Arnold (left) and Ed Woodward (right) must take responsibility for their failings

The Glazer family (pictured: Joel Glazer, Avram Glazer) are the root of Man United’s problems

He took United so far and it became obvious earlier this season he could take them no further. They are seventh in the Premier League, 12 points adrift of the leaders. There is no coming back from Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Watford. It is over. But please, let’s not pretend Solskjaer is the root of the problem at Old Trafford. He is not even close to being that.

The root of the problem is the Glazer family who own the club, and the men like Woodward and Arnold who they employ to do their bidding. 

They drain money from United like leeches. They fret more about profit than performance. They have turned United from a team that boasted of being the biggest club in the world into a laughing stock.

There is no point in trying to be diplomatic here. The men who run United are incompetents. It was obvious to everyone by early this season that things were going backwards after the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo proved to be a huge own goal and yet they did nothing. 

They sat on their hands. They fiddled. Antonio Conte, a proven title-winner, was available but the feeling was the weak men in charge at United were intimidated by his strength of character. How pathetic is that?

Now Conte has been snapped up by Tottenham Hotspur. Their chairman Daniel Levy has made plenty of mistakes of his own but at least he was decisive in his pursuit of the best manager on the market.

Where do United go once Solskjaer has departed? There is no one obvious readily available any more, although Zinedine Zidane, who has won trophies as a manager at Real Madrid but nowhere else, appears to be emerging as the favourite to take over.

Woodward is currently in the midst of a long goodbye he should never have been granted. If he were judged on how many new noodle partners he has signed, he might have a case to make. But this is about football. 

United dithered with Solskjaer and allowed Tottenham to go out and appoint Antonio Conte

Zinedine Zidane is one of the few names in the frame that actually finds themselves available

It was announced he would leave seven months ago after he dragged United into the disaster that was the plan for a European Super League. He should have departed straight away but he is clinging on for the remnants of an ego trip. All that has achieved, probably, is adding the firing of another manager to his resume.

It is astonishing that a club like United was briefing recently that it was willing to let Solskjaer limp on to the end of the season and appoint a successor then. Really?

The best-supported club in England, a club that used to reign supreme, happy to write off a season barely a quarter of the way through rather than make a tough choice by getting rid of a nice bloke?

That kind of thinking underlined just how far United have fallen. They have allowed a situation to develop where United are already a dozen points adrift of Chelsea. Another season without one of the big trophies United used to chase is effectively sealed.

Star-struck by reputation, Woodward and the Glazers squandered the supremacy Sir Alex Ferguson had bequeathed them by making errors of judgment, appointing Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho as managers when they were both on the downslopes of their career.  

United have become a prisoner of history and need to realise they have been hit by mediocrity

They allowed Solskjaer to rebuild the club and they deserve some credit for that. But then, at the critical moment, they reverted to type.

Image is everything for them. They saw that Ronaldo was available this summer, their eyes turned to dollar signs and their brains turned to a mush of page impressions, Twitter followers and Instagram likes.

Ronaldo was a great player once but his signing cut the ground out from under Solskjaer’s feet.

United needed a world-class defensive midfielder to cement a run at the title this season. What they got was a 36-year-old superstar who still scores goals but whose immobility leaves the rest of the team exposed.

It was never going to work. Now, as many predicted, it looks as if the arrival of Ronaldo was the signing that sealed Solskjaer’s fate.

It is sad to see Solskjaer brought so low. It has got to the point where he resembles a boxer being held up just so he can be hit again. But part of United’s problem lies in still being a prisoner to its history.  

Signing Cristiano Ronaldo (right) made no sense on the pitch – it was a commercial enterprise

The 36-year-old is not the player he was when he left United for Real Madrid back in 2009

Everyone wanted Solskjaer to succeed because of what he had done for the club. Everyone wanted Ronaldo to succeed for the same reason. No one wants to admit that signing him was a mistake.

Everyone wants him to be the player he was when he left the club for Real Madrid in 2009. More pertinently, everyone wants United to be the club they were when Ronaldo left in 2009. It is still a privilege to watch him play and to watch him score because you are watching one of the greatest. But you are idolising him for his past now, not for his present or his future.

Ronaldo would not get in the starting XI of most of England’s top teams. It might be different at City — who were rumoured to be interested in him — because he would have been the finishing touch to a side that is beautifully balanced already and which was not crying out for reinforcements elsewhere.

City didn’t have a natural centre forward, either. Ronaldo would have been a short-term solution.

He would not be in the first team at Liverpool and he would not be in the first team at Chelsea. He would not even be in the first team at Spurs, particularly now Conte is in charge. The best teams do not carry passengers, even goalscoring passengers, because it destroys the effectiveness of the side. 

Solskjaer (middle) will go but United are hamstrung as long as the Glazer family are in charge

United accommodate Ronaldo for commercial reasons. And they accommodate him because signing him was presented him as a great coup and it took the heat off Woodward and the Glazers, for a short time at least.

Now the heat is back on and it is not only Solskjaer who should pay the price.

‘The worst that Ole can be is a great bridge to get United back to its values,’ said Gary Neville on Saturday. ‘It’s whether he can get them to the other side of the ravine and get them to a point where they will be successful again. And that, at the moment, is highly in doubt.’

Solskjaer got close to the other side of that ravine but at Vicarage Road, he fell into the chasm.

His departure is inevitable but as long as the Glazers own the club and as long as mediocrities still dominate the hierarchy at Old Trafford and roam its corridors, the barriers to the resuscitation of Manchester United will remain.

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