By Raj Chopra.
In his time as CEO of Manchester United Edward Woodward has appointed four different managers, with three of them sacked within three years of their tenure.
Based on the league position and recent poor form, Woodward and his board members have another critical and time-relevant decision to make.
United travelled to Turkey for their third Champions League group game against Istanbul Basaksehir. The team from Istanbul had lost their previous two group game 2-0, to Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig, failing to score in either game. United were expected to beat this team comfortably, but the all too familiar misgivings were on show.
United lost 2-1, but the scoreline fails to tell the full story of the match. Lack of organisation, no leadership and lack of intensity were once again on show, and these characteristics were very much emphasised during the opening goal.
Demba Ba was allowed to stand unmarked as every United player, apart from the goalkeeper Dean Henderson, decided to attack at a corner.
This inevitably resulted in Ba receiving the ball on the halfway line and, with the ten-yard head start he had over Nemanja Matic who was chasing him, Ba comfortably despatched past Henderson unchallenged.
This goal alone encapsulated everything wrong about this United team under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
In his post-match interview, Solskjaer criticised himself and his side for neglecting to deal with Ba at that set piece.
“Obviously it’s not a goal you normally concede,” he said. “We’ve not done our duties and that’s my responsibility.
“We played a short corner and then everyone forgets to get back with the players they’re playing against [marking] and Demba Ba snuck in behind us.
“Lack of communication and lack of good decisions, you don’t really see those kinds of goals at this level.
“We shouldn’t concede easy goals like this, we know how hard it is to create goals and create chances and when you give easy soft goals like the two we have done today it makes it hard.”
United currently sit in 15th position in the Premier League after six games. Challenging for the title and now even for a Champions League spot now looks very unlikely.
It would be slightly far-fetched at this stage to say United might find themselves fighting relegation considering the number of good players they have, but then all connected with Leeds United, who were relegated from the top flight in 2004, might have been inclined to think this too.
The time-critical decision that needs to be made by the United board to relieve Solskjaer of his duties must be made now, and not depend on the result at Everton this coming weekend.
During his time as United manager, Solskjaer has won big games, alleviating any pressure that he may be facing about his managerial post. It may very well be that we see the United that beat PSG and RB Leipzig in the Champions League turn up against Everton and win.
If United, do beat Everton, this will no doubt buy Solskjaer more time. But this pattern has been all too familiar with Solskjaer at United.
After over 100 games in charge, there is very little to report on in terms of progression, with far more confusion over selection, formation, and style of play.
Woodward and his board must make a decision now to appoint Mauricio Pochettino, who once again has been contacted by United representatives.
The longer United leave the inevitable, the worse the situation becomes for the club in terms of sustaining a credible league position and obtaining the services of an available world-class manager that can build a winning team.