Manchester United v Everton: Match in pictures
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to receive another show of faith from the Manchester United hierarchy, according to reports. Assistant manager Mike Phelan signed a contract extension on Monday and first-team coaches Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna are now reportedly set to follow suit.
Solskjaer has been under intense pressure recently following a run of two wins in the last six matches across all competitions.
Recent defeats by Young Boys in the Champions League, West Ham in the Carabao Cup and Aston Villa in the Premier League have dented confidence in the Norwegian’s leadership.
United drew 1-1 with Everton on the weekend and the poor result was exacerbated by Solskjaer’s decision to leave Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench.
Many pundits and fans criticised the decision and Sir Alex Ferguson has now added his voice to the debate.
In a conversation with former UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at Old Trafford, the legendary ex-United manager was filmed saying “you should always start with your best players”.
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Solskjaer has been forced to defend himself over the Ronaldo omission as well as recent results, but it seems the United hierarchy are still very happy with his management.
That is because the club are taking steps to further cement Solskjaer’s support staff in their positions.
Yesterday it was confirmed that Phelan had signed a fresh deal until June 2024 with the club.
The former United midfielder was Ferguson’s assistant from 2008 to 2013 and returned in 2019 after Solskjaer took over as manager.
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Now BBC Sport reports that United are ‘working to secure’ Solskjaer’s two other closest confidants, McKenna and Carrick, onto new contracts with the club.
Carrick moved into coaching with United at the end of the 2017/18 season when he retired from playing.
McKenna joined Solskjaer’s coaching set-up at the same time, stepping up from his previous position as coach of the club’s Under-18s.
The duo have been there since the start of Solskjaer’s reign in December 2018 and their continued employment by the club shows how confident they are over the former striker’s leadership.
That was clear from the words of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward in September.
“We significantly strengthened the squad over the summer, with the addition of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Tom Heaton,” Woodward said last month.
“These signings have demonstrated our continued ability to attract some of the world’s best footballers to Old Trafford, and our firm commitment to helping Ole deliver success on the pitch.
“While squad-building is a constant process, we are more confident than ever that we are on the right track.”
Solskjaer will face further tests after the international break with matches against Leicester City, Atalanta and Liverpool next up.
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