In pictures: Leicester v Man Utd
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If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was feeling the heat before, then the Manchester United boss will be sweating tonight following his side’s capitulation against Leicester City. United shipped three goals in 13 minutes as they fell to a humbling 4-2 defeat against the Foxes.
The Norwegian headed into the international break being hounded for his decision to bench Cristiano Ronaldo for United’s 2-2 draw with Everton in their last Premier League game.
But Solskjaer got the big calls wrong again as United slumped to yet another concerning result – it’s now just two wins in the last seven games for the Old Trafford outfit.
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And on this occasion, he only has himself to blame for the way his side crashed and burned in spectacular fashion.
Solskjaer deemed that Harry Maguire was fit enough to make a surprise start against his former club despite being a major injury doubt.
It was a huge gamble, and one that was likely taken due to the injury Raphael Varane picked up on international duty.
But unfortunately for the beleaguered United chief, it was a gamble that backfired spectacularly.
Maguire didn’t look fit and endured an awful afternoon on his return to the King Power Stadium.
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The England ace, who spent two years with the Foxes, was bullied all afternoon and was responsible for Youri Tieleman’s opening goal after being pickpocketed by Kelechi Iheanacho in a perilous position.
It was clear to everyone watching that he wasn’t fit. Yet somehow, his manager missed it – or chose to ignore it.
He admitted as much after the match after United’s leaky backline wore torn to shreds in the final third of the match by the rampant Foxes.
“I pick the team and Harry showed no reaction after what he’s gone through,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports after the match.
“I hold my hand up if that doesn’t work out and sometimes that doesn’t.
“When you concede four, I’ve probably made a few bad decisions.”
It was an honest assessment from the United chief, but he knows that he can ill-afford to make many more bad decisions.
Criticism of Solskjaer has reached a crescendo over the past couple of games, with ‘Ole Out’ trending on Twitter both during and after the game.
After a summer of significant investment, Solskjaer knows that he needs to deliver a trophy and mount a serious title challenge this year. Otherwise, that bumper new contract he inked back in the summer isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
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The problem for Solskjaer is that neither of those look likely to happen right now.
Barring United’s opening day demolition of Leeds United, you’d be hard-pressed to name a game this season that Solskjaer’s side have impressed in. Even in their 4-1 win over Newcastle, it took them a while to get going.
Solskjaer’s expensively assembled squad has spluttered its way through the opening third of the season rather than purring through as it should have. The fixture list hasn’t been particularly challenging. Or at least, it shouldn’t have been.
Even Leicester, who dispatched United in fashion with their late goal blitz, have looked a shadow of the side that clinched the FA Cup and terrorised the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ last season.
But they were still more than good enough to highlight that this United side are still lightyears away from challenging for the league. Paul Pogba suggested as much after the game.
“To be honest, we have been having these kind of games for a long time,” he assessed.
“We have not found the problem, conceding easy goals, stupid goals.
“We need to be more mature, play with more experience and arrogance in a good way.
“We need to find something, we need to change.”
It’s beginning to feel more and more like that change may have to be in the dugout.
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