Manchester United: Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the brink of the sack?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been in charge of a 6-1 defeat to Tottenham, and now a 5-1 defeat by Liverpool. This is all since October 2020.
Following Manchester United's humiliating 5-0 defeat at Old Trafford by Liverpool, there has been a torrent of criticism directed at manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Many supporters believe that the Norwegian should be fired immediately following the worst defeat at home to their largest rivals. This result was only eclipsed by the 7-1 loss at Liverpool in 1895 when the club was still called Newton Heath.

Solskjaer must go, according to former players. Gary Neville said that he wouldn't call for Solskjaer's dismissal but the ex-United skipper didn’t hold back when he criticized the terrible performance.

BBC Sport examines what's happening at Old Trafford.

Could Solskjaer be fired?

Unless United states says otherwise, no. After Sunday's defeats, Jose Mourinho and David Moyes were both expelled. Moyes lost 2-0 at Everton and the club couldn't finish in the top four. Mourinho's last game as manager was a 3-1 defeat at Liverpool.

Both cases saw their dismissal not occur until Tuesday.

Officials from the United have claimed for months that Solskjaer has been moving the club in the right direction. In the summer, Solskjaer was awarded a three-year contract. Mike Phelan was his assistant and talks are continuing with Kieran McKenna and Michael Carrick, coaches.

It is telling that Solskjaer has not departed from this position since the Liverpool match, given United's style. Any decision to remove Solskjaer will be made after much thought and not as an instant reaction.

However, Solskjaer's massive Liverpool defeat calls for serious questions to be asked. United now have one point from their four previous games and face three tough games against Tottenham away and Chelsea. Watford will also play in their next four.

Solskjaer called the loss his darkest day as United manager but promised to continue despite the additional pressure it places on him. With 14 points from nine matches, the club sits seventh in Premier League - eight points behind leaders Chelsea.

Ed Woodward, executive vice-chairman, talks with the Glazer family almost daily. Richard Arnold, the managing director, is expected to succeed Woodward at the end. He also communicates regularly with club owners.

It is impossible to imagine that the manager's future was not discussed in those regular meetings. However, Sunday's humiliating results will not automatically lead to his dismissal.

What are the thoughts of the players?

BBC Sport has learned that Solskjaer is losing faith in players. They aren't confident in his tactics and believe he is not up to the task compared with managers at larger clubs like Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel.

This could be seen as players trying to get out of the responsibility for a collective mess. Many ex-players also condemned Solskjaer's performance against Liverpool. They were critical of his individual and half-hearted approach in pressing Klopp's side, and their inability to or unwillingness to track runners.

Paul Scholes, a former United midfielder, said that he was worried about what might happen to Liverpool if they played the same way as his old club.

They did it with the exact same starting lineup, and the result was embarrassing.

Guardiola, Klopp, or Tuchel wouldn't allow players to ignore the lack of energy and discipline displayed by United against Liverpool or last Wednesday at Leicester City by a team they coach, according to the narrative.

The one thing that is noticeable between coaches is the relative presence of the technical area. The Spaniard and two Germans are almost always present on pitchside during matches. However, United tends to rotate their staff to offer advice.

However, it was obvious that Solskjaer, who does not attend training sessions, was visible more against Liverpool than usual.

It is clear that no matter what tactics or play patterns Solskjaer has in mind for his team, his players are unable or unwilling to implement them. The Liverpool defeat was the culmination of a disappointing season for the United.

What are your options?

It is obvious that Solskjaer should be left where he is. Although many fans find this unacceptable, United stuck by Moyes and Louis van Gaal long after many believed they should be discarded. It is important to not underestimate their determination to keep the club's 'club DNA,' which brought Solskjaer to the club.

The Liverpool defeat has weakened the confidence of less reactionary supporters who feel that the club must act quickly.

However, this would create another problem for them. United called on Solskjaer from Norway to help them solve the problem of Moyes and Mourinho leaving mid-season.

Even if Solskjaer could be replaced by a United legend, the idea of Solskjaer being replaced as an interim by someone who is a former team-mate seems a bit odd.

Two high-profile candidates are out of work: ex-Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, and Zinedine Zidane, former Real Madrid manager.

Conte might seem to be at odds with United’s long-term strategy and his feisty personality may cause problems for the club's hierarchy. However, his Serie A title win in Italy last season with Inter Milan shows that he still has the potential to win big prizes.

Zidane won all the honours at Real but it is uncertain how much coaching he received. United, Klopp, Guardiola and others are lauded for improving players and United might feel that they need to match their rivals by appointing a new coach.

Frenchman Marcelo Bielsa, a Leeds player, has proven that he is not an obstacle to success.

Ajax's Eric ten Hag refused leave in mid-season to Bayern Munich's vacancy in 2019. It is unknown how serious United would take Brendan Rodgers's appointment as Leicester City's manager, considering his Liverpool connection.

Solskjaer may find it advantageous to have a replacement available, as he may not be able to recover from his "darkest" match against Liverpool.