Ole Gunnar Solskjaer speaks ahead of Man Utd v Watford
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Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now in serious trouble following his side’s woeful defeat by Watford on Saturday. The Red Devils went into the game looking to bounce back after their loss to Manchester City prior to the international break. But that didn’t happen, with the Hornets stinging them at Vicarage Road.
Before the match with Watford, Solskjaer insisted that United would be significantly improved after working on several things behind the scenes.
But, from minute one, it was clear it was going to be a difficult day at the office for the away side.
United were slow out of the blocks and could have fallen behind earlier on had Ismaila Sarr, a one-time transfer target for Solskjaer, converted his penalty.
However, both of his efforts were saved by David De Gea with Kiko Femenia’s rebound not counting on the first attempt after he’d ran into the box.
Watford did then take the lead through Joshua King, who prodded past De Gea from close range to send the home crowd into ecstasy.
And Sarr, Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis then struck for the Hornets, boosting their chances of staying in the Premier League in the process and giving them all three points with Donny van de Beek netted a consolation.
Express Sport will now take a look at four things we learned from the showdown at Vicarage Road, with Solskjaer and Claudio Ranieri cutting contrasting figures at the full-time whistle.
Solskjaer sacking needs accelerating
According to some reports, United have already decided to axe Solskjaer. Apparently, it’s a case of when – not if – the 48-year-old loses his job.
But, based on this evidence, the Red Devils need to pull the trigger sooner, rather than later.
It was another flat showing from United, who looked short on confidence against a team many are tipping to be relegated come the end of the season in May.
Solskjaer, on the touchline, appeared a lost figure. Often looking to the heavens, it’s clear patience in his players is starting to wear thin.
United really couldn’t afford to lose today, not after already suffering defeats against the likes of Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester City over the past few weeks.
And with their season going from bad to worse, it’s time for the Glazers to relieve Solskjaer of his duties. Simply put: enough is enough.
United players are going backwards
There has long been a consensus that Solskjaer has improved some, albeit not all, of United’s players. But even those who have made progress under the Norweigan are starting to go backwards.
Harry Maguire has been toiling for some time now and again seemed vulnerable at the back as Watford attacked with speed and potency.
Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka offered precious little going forward while Scott McTominay was lucky to last beyond the first 10 minutes.
Bruno Fernandes is a shadow of the player he was last term, too, while Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo look toothless.
Yet another reason for the Glazers and Ed Woodward to act.
Ronaldo seems alarmed
Ronaldo seemed alarmed as United were outplayed by Watford.
The Portugal international was constantly trying to drive his team-mates on, but his words continually fell on deaf ears.
After Watford’s second goal, Ronaldo strolled over to Bruno Fernandes with a pained expression on his face. Neither was going to be smiling from that point on.
This isn’t what Ronaldo thought he was in for when he made a Hollywood homecoming from Juventus during the summer transfer window.
And if the Red Devils keep on losing like this, falling down the table like this, it’s hard to see their talisman sticking around.
Especially if United find themselves without any Champions League football come the summer. Something that, currently, can’t be ruled out.
Watford have hope
Even before today’s match against United, Watford were beginning to make progress under Ranieri.
And, now, it’s patently clear they have every right to dream of staying in the Premier League.
Their stirring 5-2 victory over Everton last month was a sign the tide was starting to turn. Since then, there have been losses to Arsenal and Southampton – albeit narrow ones.
Yet by beating United at home, Ranieri’s side have a chance of beating the drop and staying in the top flight for another year.
There are plenty of games to go, of course, but the early signs are certainly promising.
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