Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been told he’s lucky that his Manchester United team aren’t playing in a full Old Trafford – despite the Red Devils boss claiming things would be different in front of a crowd.
United are winless in four home matches in the Premier League this season after suffering to a third defeat at the Theatre of the Dreams to Arsenal on Sunday.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second-half penalty gave the Gunners their first win away at United in the league since September 2006.
And Solskjaer said of his side’s wretched home record post-match: “Home and away form is out the window really with no fans in the stadium.
“You can’t really look at that, just look at the stats. It doesn’t mean too much, we need to get points on the board. We need to focus on Everton next week.”
Just a week earlier, he said following a draw against Chelsea: “If we’d had that stadium and the Stretford End full, we could have created more pressure and more urgency because that was lacking.
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“You’re here watching the game and it’s a different sport, and with the fans here they help you. We miss them, we have to say.”
Yet former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol, speaking on ESPN FC, thinks Solskjaer is fortunate that United aren’t playing in front of supporters because he thinks there would be a real backlash if they were following their underwhelming start to the top-flight season.
Solskjaer’s future is once again the subject of speculation due to his side’s domestic form, despite having recently managed impressive Champions League wins over Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig.
“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the luckiest man alive that there’s no fans in the stadium,” Nicol said.
“Because if there were, he would be getting absolutely slaughtered by United fans. The fact everyone above Ole likes him and nothing is going to happen to him while they’re in charge…
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“If there were supporters in the stadium, he would absolutely be getting crucified.
“When a game is finished, you don’t have to look at the media or go on Twitter or go on Instagram or do any of that, you can kind of cocoon yourself with the players and the club.
“But you can’t hide when there’s a crowd of 70,000 people at Old Trafford and you’re rotten, so he’s a lucky man right now.”
Roy Keane was heavily critical of the players after United’s loss to Arsenal on Sky Sports’ coverage of the match and refused to go too strong on former team-mate Solskjaer.
While Nicol agrees with the notion of some of Keane’s points, he feels the United manager is partly culpable for not eking better performances from his players in the Premier League at Old Trafford.
He added: “What [Roy] Keane said, it’s hard to disagree with because as a player, part of your responsibility is to be ready for the whistle to go, self-motivation, which Roy is always on about. ‘I don’t need anyone to tell me to do this or do that.’
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“But unfortunately, people like Roy Keane aren’t playing the game anymore and so 100 per cent, Ole’s responsibility also is to make sure – as a coach you sometimes have to smell the dressing room is flat before a game.
“It’s part of your job to be able to figure that out. Clearly Ole couldn’t figure that out.
“That in my opinion is down to, generally, experience and spending a lot of time with your players and knowing your players inside out, knowing what they’re thinking and how they’re behaving and what’s normal.
“Football players like normal, that’s why they get ready at the same time every week, they put on the right boot first, it’s normal.
“His job is to spot when it’s not normal and he didn’t do it and that’s a lack of experience, so he has to take responsibility for that as well.”
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