Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs history to repeat itself to save Man Utd job

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of Manchester United in action during a first team training session at Carrington Training Ground on November 16, 2021 in Manchester, England.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs history to repeat itself in the coming weeks if he is to resurrect Manchester United's season and ultimately save his job.

After picking up just four points from 18, a run which included back-to-back home defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City, United have slipped to sixth in the table, nine points off the top.

Despite that dismal run, Solskjaer has managed to cling on to his job, although that seems more down to a lack of potential replacements being available than any firm faith in his ability to turn things around.

This time last year, United won seven of nine league games to rise from 14th to second, where they finished the season, and Solskjaer needs a similar run to ease the growing pressure on him.

After giving his squad a week off, Solskjaer and his players returned to training on Tuesday to prepare for what is shaping up to be the defining period of their turbulent season.

Between now and the end of the year, United have 11 games – nine in the Premier League and two in the Champions League – in which beleaguered Solskjaer cannot afford any more setbacks.

First up are struggling Watford, who have won just once in four games under Claudio Ranieri, on Saturday. Against that backdrop, Solskjaer could not have wished for more welcoming opponents.

It is a must-win game for Solskjaer. Failure to do so would intensify the pressure and scrutiny on him and make it even harder for the United board to justify their continued backing of him.

After that, United travel to Villarreal, who beat them in last year's Europa League final, where defeat would see their hopes of reaching the Champions League last 16 go down to the final group game.

A third successive away game sees them travel to Premier League leaders Chelsea, where a fifth league defeat of the season could signal the end for Solskjaer after nearly three years in charge.

Given their wretched league form of late at Old Trafford – one point from 12 – Solskjaer must be thankful the next three games are away, a point endorsed by United legend Denis Irwin.

"We've got three away games within a week or so and that might be good for us, that we're away, because our home form has not been great of late,” said Irwin.

“They are three big matches. At Watford, start on the front foot and get back to winning ways. Villarreal won't be easy, but hopefully we can get a point over there.

Marcus Rashford and Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of Manchester United in action during a first team training session at Carrington Training Ground on November 16, 2021 in Manchester, England.

"And, of course, Chelsea away. It's a big week for us and we must make sure we come back, stick together and really try to get going again.

“We've stuttered, no doubt about that, and it's been a tough month-and-a-half really. We had a good result at Spurs, but the five or six league games prior to that have been difficult.

"We're under pressure, as you'd expect at United, as we've fallen out of the top four and there's distance now between us and the top two or three.”

As well as a lack of credible candidates to replace him, what has also kept Solskjaer in a job is the fact the teams above United have all suffered surprising blips, unlike in recent seasons.

Chelsea lost at home to City and drew with Burnley, while Pep Guardiola's side have lost to Tottenham and Crystal Palace, as well as dropping points at home to Southampton.

Liverpool have dropped points against Brentford and Brighton, while defeat at home to West Ham prior to the international break helped keep United within touching distance of the top four.

But if Solskjaer is to remain in charge of United into 2022, he needs to embark on a winning run - starting this weekend. After such a dismal start to the season, there is no more margin for error.

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