Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Tells Manchester United to 'Stick Together' Amid Fan Chants
Jan. 11, 2020
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made a call for unity after Manchester United fans aimed negative chants toward executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and owners the Glazers on Saturday.
Solskjaer was asked about the heckling from the stands at Old Trafford, which was heard despite United beating Norwich City 4-0. The Norwegian said what fans were chanting wasn't lost on him, per Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News :
"I'm not sure if the players will get it but I noticed, yeah. As a club, we've got to stick together, we've got to be united, we are a family. I can only say from when I've been here I've been backed by the owners, I've been backed by Ed and they're supporting me, so for me, make sure they stick together . "
Part of Solskjaer's plea for togetherness among those connected to the club involved defending the Red Devils' record this season. United are fifth in the Premier League, 27 points behind leaders Liverpool, but Solskjaer believes his squad still has plenty to play for:
"We are in all competitions. We are still in the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup, we're fifth in the league, still challenging. We've improved the position from last season, we've got Europa League. They (the supporters) have just got to believe me when I say I feel we are doing loads of good things behind the scene.
"We are going in the right direction. See the group today; the attitude, the work-rate, that's the core of the group that's going to go forward . "
Convincing disgruntled supporters United are indeed headed in the "right direction" is a tough sell. The club's place in the Carabao Cup looks tenuous thanks to the 3-1 defeat against derby rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford in the semi-final first leg on Tuesday.
Solskjaer's main remit isn't winning a cup, with the need to qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League more pressing. Chances appear slim with Solskjaer's men five points adrift of the top four and facing a tricky last-32 tie against Club Brugge in the UEFA Europa League.
United's fall from grace since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 has caused anger among the fanbase. Ferguson left behind a title-winning but ageing squad, with Woodward fronting the rebuild since the Scot left.
Woodward has overseen almost seven seasons without the title. United have had four managers during the same time, with David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho all being hired and fired on Woodward's watch.
The latter has also been responsible for some questionable spending, with dubious signings like Marouane Fellaini failing to perform. Woodward has broken the club's transfer record several times, but Angel Di Maria, Paul Pogba and others haven't made the grade.
Scattershot recruitment has left United with a squad bereft of consistency and talent in key areas. It's likely why Solskjaer has talked up the backing he's received from Woodward and Co.
Solskjaer knows he'll need more investment to beef up a shaky defence, improve a midfield lacking creativity and add depth to the forward line. Spending could be forthcoming in January, with United reportedly closing in on Sporting CP's Bruno Fernandes:
Even without new signings, Woodward is unlikely to turn the tide of opinion in his favour. It doesn't help the 48-year-old was awarded £3.16 million as the highest-paid director in the league in 2019, despite United finishing sixth, according to Martyn Ziegler of The Times .
In this context, Solskjaer's defence of the current regime may not sit well with many. He is trying to quiet dissent with proof of things yet unseen:
However, many, including Marca 's Chris Winterburn, believe the central issue with this ownership has existed long before Solskjaer took charge in December 2018:
Profits have been lucrative for the Glazers, who took control back in 2005. Six members of the family, including Joel and Avram Glazer, own the majority of the shares, per Dean Rudge of the Manchester Evening News .
Rudge noted how the club has paid over £100 million in dividends since 2015. Those payments are sharply contrasted with how much United have regressed on the pitch.
It's why calls for change are unlikely to subside.
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