Manchester United aren’t meant to be like this. Fans know it, pundits know it and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, after declining to answer a question about his future, knows it as well. And with the club slipping to defeat against Istanbul Basaksehir, the Norwegian’s sacking at Old Trafford may have taken a giant step closer.
United went into their Champions League tie against Istanbul Basaksehir on Wednesday looking for a third win on the trot in the competition.
Having beaten PSG and RB Leipzig previously, playing some sparkling football along the way, more of the same was expected from Solskjaer’s side.
Instead, however, the Red Devils crashed to yet another defeat.
Bemba Ba opened the scoring in Turkey, capitalising on some shambolic defending to put his side ahead in the 12th minute.
Edin Visca then struck shortly before the interval and, though United pulled one back through Anthony Martial, they couldn’t salvage anything from the match.
After the game, Solskjaer was asked about whether he fears the sack. After all, a fourth defeat of the campaign at this stage simply isn’t good enough.
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He declined to answer, however, saying: ‘I decline to comment on such a thing.
“Of course, it’s early on and opinions are out there all the time. You’ve got to stay strong. I’m employed by the club to do a job and I do that to the best of my ability with my staff.”
While Solskjaer has attempted to shut down talk of him losing his job, though, it appears to be edging towards inevitable.
United went into the current season on a high after finishing third in the Premier League table last term, behind only Liverpool and Manchester City.
The arrival of Bruno Fernandes, and coming of age of the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, were particularly big positives.
But, ever since, United have fallen apart.
Their season started with an unacceptable 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, on a night where Roy Hodgson’s side were superior in every single department.
They were fortunate to beat Brighton at the Amex Stadium but, after that, were thumped 6-1 by Tottenham in their own back yard on a chastening afternoon for Solskjaer’s side.
Recently, they’d appeared to have turned a corner.
United beat both PSG and RB Leipzig as well as Newcastle, while also managing a point against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea in their Premier League showdown.
But now, they’re back to square one.
United needed a response in Istanbul following their 1-0 loss to Arsenal on Sunday but they didn’t get it, managing just two shots on target against the Turkish minnows.
Before the October international break, reports suggested Solskjaer had a month to turn things around while the spectre of the available Mauricio Pochettino looms large.
And after initially looking set to succeed in that mission, the Norwegian now seems a dead man walking.
United have shown they’re not afraid to act in the past, sacking David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho in the years since Sir Alex Ferguson walked away.
And Solskjaer could legitimately be next, despite his popularity and status as a club legend among supporters.
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