Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can only rely on league form to keep his job after watching Man United crash out of the Champions League…
Manchester United will have no choice but to simply look on when the next round of the UEFA Champions League kicks off next year after crashing out of Europe’s top football competition via a 3-2 away defeat to German side RB Leipzig on Tuesday.
The Red Devils are headed back to the Europa League, and deservedly so after failing to secure a single point from their last to games, a point that would have offered them passage through to the seventh round of the competition.
Prior to the match, head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer asserted the team’s destiny was in its own hands and it appears they had very little desire to shape their fate after a mostly lacklustre performance that came pretty close to ending in a 3-0 reverse.
In United’s defence, they were drawn in the proverbial “group of death’ but, surely, they could have done a whole lot better, especially had they avoided that narrow 2-1 defeat to Istanbul last month.
As mentioned above, a point would have been enough to see them through on Tuesday but that began to look unlikely as early as the 13th minute of the contest given they were 2-0 down by then. Goals from Angelino and Amadou Haidara made sure of that, with Justin Kluivert adding a third in the 69th minute.
A pair of United goals in the 80th and 82nd minute meant a nervy ending for the Bundesliga side, who conceded a penalty and an own goal to leave themselves under pressure to keep their lead as time dwindled down. In the end, though, Solskjaer’s men were unable to find that all-important third goal and will be playing their European football on Thursday nights as opposed to Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Defender Harry Maguire lamented over his team’s collectively failing to do the basics after the disheartening loss.
“It wasn’t good enough for the first 20 minutes. We weren’t at it,” the England international told the media. “We had great belief, we came close at the end, but ultimately we have to stop giving goals away and falling behind. I don’t want to look at excuses.
“There are 11 bodies out there who have to do the basics of football. We started the game too slowly. We failed to deal with crosses and that is why we were beaten. We’ve got to do more.”
United could have likely used an easier bounce-back game in the wake of their defeat to Leipzig but will face fierce rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Their third-place finish in Group H will thrust them back into the knockout stage of the Europa League. Premier League counterparts Tottenham Hotspur are currently favored to win the competition outright at 6/1, with London rivals Arsenal right behind at 7/1. Of course, sportsbooks will see their odds adjusted by the time United, as well as the other third-placed UCL teams, are added to the secondary tournament. Fans would do well to look out for those and could find the best ones through a quick perusal of Sportsbookreview.
On a brighter note, United are only two points off the fourth spot on the Premier League table and a further three points adrift of Tottenham and current champions Liverpool, who are tied at the top with 24 points. Spurs have the goal-difference advantage.
They will hope for a better period of play against the Etihad side on the weekend and a win could set them up for a neat run as the opposition will be relatively weaker. The Red Devils will not face a top-four side (at the time of writing) until they play Leicester City away on the Day after Christmas. Matches against Sheffield United, Leeds United, and Everton will all come before the trip to the Foxes’ King Power Stadium and Solskjaer’s side will have four lower-table opponents before they face off with the current top-flight title holders nearing the end of January.
As things stand, United are 7/2 for a victory in their upcoming domestic match, with the bookmakers offering 13/16 on City. They’re currently 20/1 to win the league outright – Liverpool remain the favourites at 7/4 while City are 2/1 – both Tottenham and Chelsea 5/1.
Solskjaer will head into 2021 a man under pressure, providing he’s kept around that long, having continued in disappointing form where European football is concerned. He leads England’s sack race at 2/1 at the moment.
United management could hold out on making a decision over his future if things continue to look positive in the league. A loss on the weekend could do a lot to impact that future and the Man Utd boss will go into Saturday’s game fully aware that the result could make or break him.