Why Is Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Facing More Criticism Than Most?

Even in the glow of victory, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recognised more was expected of Manchester United. “It’s definitely not a step forward performance-wise,” the Norwegian admitted after the less-than-convincing 1-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion. “This one was way below par and sometimes three points are more important than performance, even though we know that to move up the table we have to play better.”

Indeed, United were somewhat fortunate to claim three points against a team fighting for Premier League

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survival this season. On another day, Solskjaer’s side would have been left still waiting for their first home league win of the 2020/21 campaign. Ultimately, they clinched a win to lift them up into the top half of the table.

This certainly isn’t where Manchester United want to be. This is, after all, a team that finished third in the Premier League table last season and had sights on getting closer to Liverpool this season. Instead, they are behind the likes of Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Southampton. 

And yet victory over West Brom on Saturday took United above Arsenal and Manchester City in the table. The Reds aren’t the only ones suffering a difficult start to the season, but Solskjaer has certainly come under more scrutiny than any other manager in the Premier League. Many expect the Norwegian to be the division’s first to be sacked this season.

Mikel Arteta and Pep Guardiola haven’t faced the same criticism despite even poorer results. The latter has faced questions over his City side’s underwhelming performances, but put pen-to-paper on a new contract at the Etihad Stadium this week. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss still has a hold over the English media.

Arsenal have enjoyed some positive results under Arteta, but consistency has been an issue. In many ways, the Gunners’ issues that of Manchester United’s under Solskjaer, yet Arteta hasn’t been questioned in the same way. This is largely down to the belief the Spaniard is building something at Arsenal, that he is at the helm of a project, but why hasn’t Solskjaer been afforded the same leeway?

Inconsistency in the assessment of Solskjaer’s performance as United manager can be traced back to last season. Frank Lampard, for instance, took over a Chelsea team that had finished third in the Premier League the season before and achieved a fourth place finish with them. On the back of this, the Blues boss was nominated for the Premier League’s Manager of the Year award.

This isn’t to say Solskjaer is doing a good job as Manchester United manager, nor is the point that Arteta, Guardiola and Lampard are necessarily doing bad jobs. There are too many nuances to each situation to make conclusive judgements on results alone. Each manager deserves to be assessed on a number of different factors that make comparison almost impossible.

But it’s still fair to say Solskjaer has become a target unlike any other Premier League manager at this moment in time. This, of course, is part of the burden that comes with being the manager of Manchester United, arguably the biggest club in world football. This is partly what Solskjaer signed up for.

Criticism of the Norwegian is fair when it is in line with what the likes of Arteta and Guardiola in particular have faced. United should be much higher up the Premier League table. Their form should be better. But the same could be said of Arsenal and City too, and their managers have been given an easier ride despite this.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/grahamruthven/2020/11/21/why-is-manchester-uniteds-ole-gunnar-solskjaer-facing-more-criticism-than-most/