No more excuses.
Manchester United take on Atalanta and Liverpool over the course of the next six days. Atalanta would not be the most important fixture in the world normally, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side lost to Young Boys in the first game of this Champions League group stage.
As a result, they can’t afford another slip up, or else they could end up playing yet another season in the dreaded Europa League. Cristiano Ronaldo and ‘Champions League’ Varane, playing in the Europa League. It’s just unthinkable.
And because of this, Solskjaer will know that if he does fail to beat Atalanta on Wednesday, his job will seriously be on the line, more than it already is. The club can’t afford to risk going into the Europa League again. The players, and the fans, won’t stand for it.
Just a few short days after that, United will travel to Liverpool, who are playing some of the best football in the world at the minute. Mo Salah is completely unmarkable right now, and the defence looks as solid as it ever has. But that doesn’t matter in a derby this serious, and with this much on the line. United can’t go in with an underdog mentality. They need to win.
Pressure mounts on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Jose Mourinho was fired after Liverpool beat United 3-1, and while the result itself was poor, it was the performance that meant more. Liverpool were so much better. In every way. If we see a repeat of that this weekend, Solskjaer will surely be thinking that his time at Old Trafford is up.
If United put up a fight, and claw a 2-2 draw, with every single player battling from the first minute until the last, maybe Solskjaer will keep his job for another few weeks, or months. But if it’s as weak a performance as what United fans have watched recently, it could be the end.
But what will be the toughest thing for Solskjaer to accept is the fact that he no longer has his usual protectors in the media. Gary Neville has gone to bat for him on a number of occasions, and is still doing so to an extent, but he is also beginning to plant some seeds of doubt with the words he is carefully choosing.
It’s fairly simple, if Solskjaer loses to Liverpool and fails to beat Atalanta, the entire fanbase will turn, and once you lose the fanbase, it’s over.