Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Could Sunday’s FA Cup tie be his last match as Manchester United boss?

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Updated: 27/05/2022


Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho as United manager – initially on a caretaker basis – in December 2018

Speculation about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's future as Manchester United manager was dominating the headlines on Thursday after the 2-0 home defeat by Burnley.

Should they lose in the FA Cup on Sunday they will have been beaten in three successive matches for the first time this season.

Solskjaer will remain in charge for that match – a fourth-round trip to either Watford or Tranmere, who meet in their third-round replay on Thursday night – as BBC Sport understands United remain supportive of the Norwegian.

But, yet again, the club are facing fierce criticism, after a night when supporters chanted against their ownership and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward amid inconsistent results and a lack of new signings so far this month.

Solskjaer will face the media again on Friday morning, when the Norwegian conducts his scheduled press conference.

Could it be his last one?

FA Cup peril

Realistically, given they are 3-1 down following the home leg of their EFL Cup semi-final with Manchester City, the FA Cup and Europa League are United's only remaining chances of silverware this season.

United will start favourites to get through against either Tranmere or Watford in the FA Cup. But danger lurks.

Other than central defender Victor Lindelof, who missed the Burnley game through illness, Solskjaer will be calling on virtually the same squad that failed so badly on Wednesday night.

It is only five weeks since Watford got their first Premier League home win of the season – against United. They have lost only once in seven games since. Defeat by Nigel Pearson's men would be a body blow. Losing to League One Tranmere would be a catastrophe given Rovers have lost three successive home games in 2020 – to Coventry, Leicester Under-21s and Ipswich – by a combined score of 8-3.

Fan fury

There will be no repeat of the mass pre-final whistle exit of Old Trafford from the United fans at Vicarage Road or Prenton Park on Sunday but a repeat of the songs belted out against the Glazer family and Woodward cannot be ruled out.

While views about Solskjaer as a manager are mixed at best, the majority of United fans believe their club's problems go much deeper.

They are angered at a combination of what they perceive to be a lack of investment, huge amounts of money exiting the club in share dividends and finance payments, and poor recruitment.

For that, they hold the Glazer family, who bought the club in controversial circumstances in 2005, and Woodward, effectively United's chief executive since the exit of David Gill in 2013, responsible, which is why they are being singled out for criticism.

Woodward in the spotlight

There is distrust amongst United's support about the role Woodward plays in recruitment. The failure to appoint a director of football, which the club said was on the horizon 18 months ago, is being laid at his door.

Woodward was not at Old Trafford on Wednesday but he is bound to be uneasy at the criticism being levelled at him and has employed an external public relations consultant to improve the way the club is viewed.

While Woodward, who was the single most important figure in the Glazer family getting their takeover through in the first place, retains the owners' support and is handsomely paid – £3.16m last year – to run the Old Trafford outfit, there must be a chance he may eventually grow weary of the criticism and decide to leave himself.

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions for Simon Stone on Thursday – keep an eye on the BBC Sport website for his replies.

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