Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is predicting lower points totals in the Premier League this season and says the club to just need to ‘hang in there’ as the project continues. However, there is also fresh speculation linking Thomas Tuchel with the Old Trafford job.
Solskjaer has overseen a difficult start to the season. A positive end to 2019/20 risked being curtailed by an obvious lack of trust in squad rotation and fixture congestion so far in 2020/21 has seen United juggle Premier League, Champions League and Carabao Cup commitments.
Consistency has been a major issue, bringing external pressure on Solskjaer, although he had won three Premier League games in a row prior to this week’s European disappointment against Tuchel’s Paris Saint-Germain side in the Champions League.
“I don’t think you’ll see the same total points score we have seen the last three seasons, because of the congestion and because of the preparation teams have had,” the United boss is quoted as saying by the Telegraph.
“It’s one of those seasons after a blip, after a defeat, after a bad performance you need to get back on form again because there have been so many examples of teams slipping up when you think maybe they’re going to run away.
“We’re going to do as well as we can, as long as we can, hang in there and keep moving up the table.”
Solskjaer’s future at United and questions over how long he will last have never been far away from the headlines since he was appointed on a permanent basis in 2019. That hasn’t been helped by ex-Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino being out of work and available since last November.
Claims from BILD in Germany suggest that United are keeping tabs on Tuchel, who is the latest in a string of PSG bosses to have failed to get the ambitious French club over the line in Europe – although he has certainly come closest after reaching last season’s Champions League final.
The story is that United, should they fail to make it to the Champions League knockout rounds, are interested in the German coach and could approach him at the end of the season when his current PSG contract expires and he is expected to move on.
BILD says there have been no talks, but claims there has been contact in the past.
Solskjaer is banking on the club hierarchy seeing beyond current issues and sticking with the long-term project that is still far from completion. United fell short in the summer transfer window, for example, and are still seeking major strengthening in key positions next summer.
But the Old Trafford legend has also admitted that the short-term cannot be ignored, perhaps aware his job could be in danger if results in the coming weeks are poor.
“From my experience, from my discussions with the club, we think long term,” he said.
“My vision is long term and my discussions with the club have always been long term. But, also, short term, you can’t not think about the next six games.”
Publicly, at least, United are firmly backing Solskjaer. Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward commented last month in the latest financial report that the club is ‘absolutely committed to the positive path we are on under Ole as the team continues to develop’.
Woodward made similar points when he also addressed a recent fans’ forum.
“Of course, we recognise there’s more hard work ahead to achieve the consistency needed to win trophies,” Woodward said, ahead of the West Brom, Everton and Southampton wins. “But we see positive signs on the pitch and the training ground that reinforce our belief in the progress being made by Ole, his coaching team and the players.”