Roy Keane may have been proven right as the tide turns against Ole and the players aren’t opposed to joining in the blame game.
After Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started with United, Roy Keane gave a clear warning to him about the players in his dressing room. While the topic of player power in decision making for the club was a common talking point at the time, Keane felt it to be particularly relevant to Solskjaer’s side.
“These are the same players that threw Mourinho under the bus and they will do exactly the same to Ole. Leopards don’t change their spots. There’s too many bluffers at this club to get United back to the very top.”
While Keane never specified the players in question and the United squad has seen some turnover since the statement was made in 2019, a recent article by The Athletic could point to the return of such attitudes. The article looked towards some players that told Solskjaer that he was the problem.
“Solskjaer asked his team for their thoughts on the issues causing United to leak chances week after week. More than one concluded that the answer was the man posing the question.
“Recriminations abound when sides are on the slide, but the sense that Solskjaer is not the manager to lead United on has taken hold for a section of his squad over the past month. They admire his manner, his commitment, and public protection but doubts are growing about his sophistication to challenge Pep Guardiola, Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp.”
— James Melville (@JamesMelville) October 24, 2021
Could Pogba be one of the players?
Speculation has begun to grow around Paul Pogba’s stance on the matter. In a matter that may just be a conspiracy theory, recent antics by Pogba could lead fans to believe that he is one of those players.
The matter that could be considered a conspiracy theory is that his demeanour after getting a red card signalled his disapproval of Solskjaer. While the reaction may be a bit of a leap, more recent talk about Pogba could signal a breakdown in trust between the two.
Paul Scholes was one of the first to point out the lack of trust ahead of the Liverpool game saying, “He just does not trust him in that position.
“I think he has tried to trust him, he has given him so many chances and he really wants to, but he is seeing the lack of discipline he has in that position.
“It could cost them dearly and tonight is such an important game for him. Lack of trust in a player is not good. He [Pogba] will be disappointed but he has to get over it and fight back.”
Keane also said of Pogba in the past that, “I think he’s a talented boy, but do I see him as that type of character to drag Man United along when they’re up against it?”
Pogba then proceeded to come off the bench and put in a poor performance that was cut even shorter by a dangerous tackle on Naby Keita. Following the performance, Scholes made a bigger statement suggesting he shouldn’t start for a United side led by Solskjaer.
Pogba’s bad blood with Mourinho
While all current speculation around Pogba’s viewpoint will remain as speculation until he makes a statement, a big part of why people are expecting a turn against Solskjaer from him, is his experience with Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho had a very different managerial style to Solskjaer at the club and Pogba himself has admitted that their relationship turned very quickly and that he didn’t know why.
“Once I had a great relationship with Mourinho, everybody saw that, and the next day you don’t know what happened.
“That’s the strange thing I had with Mourinho and I cannot explain to you because even I don’t know.”
So, while Pogba has been positive about Solskjaer in the past, a quick turn could be expected from a player who has not hidden his frustration at the way United are going.
With the current manager’s position under threat and the option of a more tactically minded manager in Antonio Conte seeming likely, what will it take for Solskjaer to keep his job and prove to his players and the board that he deserves to take this team forward?