Ole Gunnar Solskjaer theory is deflecting blame from Manchester United players – Dominic Booth


It was inevitable, in a way, that things would come full circle this season for Manchester United and that Ralf Rangnick would suffer in the same way Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did.

Roy Keane predicted it a while back, that “these United players will throw Ole under the bus, like they’ve thrown other managers under the bus.” And so it’s come to pass that even an interim manager in Rangnick is getting stick because of this squad’s consistent inconsistency.

The fact United fans at Brighton chose to chant Solskjaer’s name shouldn’t be a surprise. They even sang it during and after his floundering finish in the manager’s seat, they sang it long after his playing career had ended; he’ll always have supporters’ affections for his goal from him in 1999, he’s a bona fide club legend.

READ MORE: United cannot ignore fans’ chants at Brighton after latest horror show

Yet some viewed the Solskjaer reappraisal at the Amex on Saturday as something of an admission from United fans — that his managerial spell wasn’t that bad, after all. There’s some sense to that argument, of course, given last season’s second-place finish and agonizing defeat in the Europa League final.

Solskjaer did a decent job at Old Trafford. Yes, he was given plenty of spending money — and got plenty wrong in the transfer market — and he was backed with a fair amount of time to complete his ‘cultural reset’ of the club. But United were still a way off title pace-setters Manchester City even at the point of that 2021 summer apex.

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The Norwegian was tactically flawed and seemed unlikely to restore United as champions of England. By the dismal autumn, and having been further backed with the signings of a multiple European champion centre-back, England’s hottest attacking prospect and the greatest striker of all time, he had to go. A team with David de Gea, Luke Shaw, Raphael Varane, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo shouldn’t be losing 4-1 to Watford.

But then, the same set of players (virtually) shouldn’t be losing 4-0 at Brighton, as Rangnick rightly indicated the similarities between the performances after Saturday’s horror show.

“I remember watching the game against Watford away, 4-1, who are now relegated, and this looked very similar to what happened today,” he said.

Ralf Rangnick’s side lost 4-0 to Brighton which is the latest in a long line of disappointing results for Manchester United this season and shows there needs to be a serious change under Erik ten Hag.

The scenes at the end were similar, too, with United players holding their hands up in apology as the anger from the away fans simmered up towards boiling point. They’ve not seen enough from their side this season; they hoped for a title push, then they expected improvement, they didn’t anticipate a limp finish in sixth or seventh.

The simple fact is that, although neither Solskjaer nor Rangnick are perfect managers, they both deserved better from their players this season. Erik ten Hag will certainly demand better next term, although he’ll have the luxury of offloading a large number of the squad and replacing them.

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Ultimately, although Solskjaer, Rangnick and the club’s hierarchy (especially the uncaring Glazer owners) must take chunks of the blame for this horror season, the bulk of the blame lies with the players. A long summer of looking into the mirror awaits for many of them. United fans are used to players of Solskjaer’s mettle, they expect better.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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