Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s future as Manchester United manager is to be decided in the next 24 hours, with some of the most senior figures at the club having lost faith and confidence in him following Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Watford.
A fifth defeat in seven Premier League games left United 12 points behind leaders Chelsea and piled more pressure on Solskjaer, with the series of results and performances leaving board members shocked and concerned.
Following the loss at Vicarage Road, a senior source at the club told Sky Sports News “clearly results are not good enough”.
A number of sources have also told Sky Sports News, Solskjaer has taken charge of his final game as United manager.
The situation remains complicated because United have a crucial Champions League game at Villarreal on Tuesday with technical director Darren Fletcher one of the candidates to take over on an interim basis if Solskjaer departs.
United are conscious of Solskjaer’s status at the club and are keen to handle the situation respectfully, which prevented the possibility of such a decision being made on Saturday at an away ground.
United’s owners are based in Florida – five hours behind UK time – and as a result there are likely to be developments later on Sunday.
The United board have so far ignored increasingly vociferous calls to relieve Solskjaer of his duties in the wake of a humiliating 5-0 loss to rivals Liverpool and a 2-0 derby defeat to Manchester City in early November.
Solskjaer was booed by a number of the United fans in the away end at Vicarage Road as he approached them at full-time on Saturday, although midfielder Bruno Fernandes appeared to try to redirect their frustration towards the players.
Goalkeeper David de Gea labelled the defeat “embarrassing” but added: “It’s easy to blame the manager or the staff but sometimes it’s the players.”
Asked what this result meant for his future, Solskjaer told Sky Sports: “I am working for and with the club. Of course we have good communication and if the club are thinking of doing something that is a conversation between us.”
Solskjaer, who has been in charge since December 2018, signed a three-year contract extension in July and it will cost United a reported £7.5m if they sack him.
Ole: I can still manage this club
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:
“I always have belief in myself, but at the moment it’s a difficult time for us. I can trust every single one out there to give what they have, but the results are difficult.
“I believe we can turn this round.
“I understand the fans, who have supported the club through thick and thin, and have been great over the last few years. It’s a difficult period, we have had a hard time since Sir Alex left, and the fans who have been here – since I came in – have been unbelievable.
“They understood the situation, the signings this summer raised expectations, rightly so, because we brought some top players in and having been second last year, we hoped to kick on.
“At the moment, we can’t seem to find our form, and it’s their right to show their opinion. But as Bruno is such a passionate man, he knows football can change quickly.”
Carragher: Ole’s position becoming untenable
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher on the future of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and reports United would hold a board meeting to discuss the situation:
“I mean what are they going to talk about? [at the board meeting] – It’s obvious. I don’t think the board meeting will last too long. It’s getting to the stage where it becomes untenable.
“We all know sooner or later that Manchester United will have a new manager, but when it gets to this stage now you actually look at Ole as an individual and human being and think it’s not good for him to be the Manchester United manager right now.
“I’ve not been a manager, but if you’ve got a crop of those players – and I don’t care what anyone tells me, Manchester United have got quality players – you can’t lose to Watford 4-1. You can’t.
“No matter how the manager has set you up, whether he has a presence in the dressing room, whether the players respect him or not, who knows? However he sets them up, those players…some of the performances they’ve given this season are an absolute disgrace. That is one of the most expensive squads in world football. One of the highest-paid squads in world football.
“And Watford are pretty awful, I’ve watched a lot of them this season, to lose there 4-1 is absolutely disgusting and disgraceful from some of those players. The manager will go, we know that, that story will move on pretty quickly.
“But some of those players’ performances this season have been absolutely scandalous.”