"Ole has got a few weeks to sort it out, a few weeks to get that winning run going. But it could get really ugly after the international break if they don't sort themselves out," Gary Neville surveys scene as Man Utd prepare to mount response to Liverpool and Man City setbacks
Saturday 20 November 2021 09:58, UK
Gary Neville has warned things could 'ugly' at Manchester United for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer if he fails to produce an immediate response to their alarming defeats before the international break.
United were humiliated 5-0 by rivals Liverpool and then played off the park by Manchester City in their one-sided, 2-0 derby defeat in early November, leaving them nine points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea at the 11-game mark.
A make-or-break run of fixtures into December begins with away trips to Watford and Chelsea in the Premier League, either side of a vital Champions League trip to Villarreal, which could determine United's passage to the knockout phase as group winners or runners-up.
The Old Trafford hierarchy have ignored increasingly vociferous calls to relieve Solskjaer of his duties in the wake of the chastening losses to their main rivals.
By accident or design, it appears the Norwegian will be given time to turn things around, although Neville is fearful for his former team-mate if results continue to deteriorate.
"Manchester United are not prepared for this moment because they have got the plan behind Ole and the staff behind him," Neville told Sky Sports in the aftermath of City's derby win at Old Trafford.
"I don't think there's any chance they will make a decision during this season unless it gets so bad, but it is getting to that point where it is getting so bad. They are nine points off the top of the league.
"This Manchester United squad cannot be that far off the top of the league 11 games in. Nobody has expected this, nobody expected United would sink so low at this point of the season.
"I think Ole has got a few weeks to sort it out. He's got a few weeks to get that winning run going. But after the international break it's Watford away, Villarreal away, Chelsea away.
"Now, they are three tough games, and it could get really messy. It could get really ugly after the international break if they don't sort themselves out."
United head for Watford on Saturday, where anything other than a victory at Vicarage Road could prove the final straw for Solskjaer.
The Norwegian has prepared for the game amid speculation that Leicester counterpart Brendan Rodgers is being lined up for his job with his side having won only one of their last six Premier League games.
Despite this, Neville has little faith in the United board to act swiftly, decisively or correctly given their track record of managerial appointments and sacking in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.
"Up to the end of last season the feeling at Old Trafford was that there had been progression, and I couldn't argue with that," Neville added. "They finished second in the league - anyone would have snapped your hand off to finish ahead of Liverpool at the start of the season.
"Everyone thought they got the recruitment right in the summer with the signings of Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho, and the late signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, but the club have not planned for this moment at all.
"It's not a board, or an executive or management team that has experience of winning trophies. You look right the way through the football department whether that be the recruitment or the CEO, the decision-makers, none of them have success of delivering titles.
"They'll be very unsure of what to do at this moment in time. Over the past nine years, that same group have sacked managers after eight months in David Moyes, they've sacked Louis van Gaal after winning an FA Cup, they've sacked Jose Mourinho after handing him a new contract and then not backing him in the transfer market.
"I suspect there will be a yo-yo going on in their minds and they haven't got the experience to deal with it. Ed Woodward leaves the club in the next month or so... who's going to take over? At that point, you're handing a hospital pass over to a new CEO.
"Solskjaer is a function of what happening right the way through the club in terms of the last eight years since Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill left, who were successful with the players they had. Since they left, it's been a mess since, and we're seeing a continuation of that.
"The problem you've got now at Manchester United is the confusion and hesitancy that exists in the boardroom and has done for the last eight years. There's a lack of decisiveness of knowing what to do and how to make the right decisions.
"I think what they will do is stick to the long-term plan because that is what they have decided to do, and they are going to get through these massive dips that are existing at this moment in time.
"There is no doubt they could go and get a manager with a better CV than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, none of us can deny that. There are better managers in terms of credentials on paper.
"But the confusion that exists at this club at this moment in time is that they have gone for two managers previously who had world-class credentials. They did that with Mourinho, Van Gaal and Moyes and it didn't work, it went spectacularly bad.
"This is why my view is that a new manager could come in here and it would end up exactly the same. That is what the board will think, and I think they will end up going to the end of the season. Manchester United have to resurrect this season, get to the end of the season, have a look at it and then maybe reset."
November 20: Watford vs Man Utd - Premier League, kick-off 3pm
November 23: Villarreal vs Man Utd - Champions League, kick-off 5.45pm
November 28: Chelsea vs Man Utd - Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm
December 2: Man Utd vs Arsenal - Premier League, kick-off 8.15pm
December 5: Man Utd vs Crystal Palace - Premier League, kick-off 2pm
December 8: Man Utd vs Young Boys - Premier League, kick-off 8pm