Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Everton was a job well done. It’s certainly enough for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to stay at Old Trafford for the time being, with club chiefs unlikely to act over the international break. However, the Norwegian and Mike Phelan’s reported behaviour around the place suggests the end could soon be nigh.
United went into the Everton game looking to bounce back.
After consecutive defeats against Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir in the Premier League and Champions League, the Red Devils sorely needed to take all three points.
Their afternoon got off to a nightmare start when Bernard opened the scoring for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, with the Brazil international beating David De Gea at the near post in the 19th minute.
But United didn’t let their heads drop and, in the end, ran out comfortable winners.
Bruno Fernandes was the star of the show, with the Portugal international scoring his fifth and sixth goals of the campaign to turn the match around.
And the Portugal international also grabbed an assist with a neat pass for Edinson Cavani, who found the net for the first time in English football with a straightforward finish.
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For Solskjaer, it was a positive afternoon.
Once again, his players performed with courage, bravery and a determination to make the situation better for their manager. They’re playing for him, rather than against him.
But, prior to the contest, a report from the Daily Mail detailed some worrying behaviour from Solskjaer and Phelan.
With the Norwegian, it was claimed he was becoming increasingly withdrawn. He’s reportedly spending more time with Kieran McKenna than anybody else, working with only his inner circle.
And, with Phelan, it was said the Red Devils assistant had an ‘air of resignation about him’.
Of course, both men could be forgiven for feeling anxious about the trip to Merseyside. Everton, after all, had stopped Solskjaer’s side from winning in their last three matches across all competitions.
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And though United won, the story suggests that both men are feeling the heat as United battle to climb back up the Premier League table.
It wasn’t just the recent losses to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir that contributed to the doom and gloom mood around the place.
It was also United’s failure to beat the likes of Crystal Palace and Tottenham earlier in the campaign, with those two defeats still very much fresh in the memory.
When Jose Mourinho was under pressure he, like Solskjaer, stuck to his inner circle. Just a handful of people who he felt were truly behind him in his mission to turn the club around.
And while United won’t be sacking Solskjaer just yet, the writing seems to be on the wall regardless.
Meanwhile, former Liverpool and Fulham star Danny Murphy thinks the 47-year-old should be allowed to stay on.
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“That was a Manchester United performance of players fighting for their manager, a superb display from start to finish and a great response to a lot of criticism,” Murphy told Mail Online.
“There are various ways to look at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure. Lots of numbers. Lots of opinions. I’ve read plenty of those in the past week.
“I am never really in the boat that you should be getting rid of a manager this early in the season. He has made his signings, he knows the players and how well they finished last season has given him credit in the bank. United should not make any rash decisions.
He added: “A result like this, a tough win at Everton, will give them confidence for after the international break when United have some less daunting fixtures coming up, albeit in a short space of time.
“It has been the inconsistency of the team that has been so bizarre. Great results followed so quickly by bad ones, then good ones again.
“That is not what normally happens with big clubs. But from what I saw at Goodison Park, every player put in a shift. And we’ve not always been able to say that this season.”
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