OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER says Manchester United sacked Jose Mourinho because the club was not where it should be.
The problem is that unless he wins his next three league games, they will actually be worse off than they were after 17 games of last season when Mourinho lost his job.
And the first of those three sees Mourinho return to Old Trafford tonight with in-form Tottenham, followed by the Manchester derby at the Etihad and Everton at home.
You certainly would not put your house on nine points out of that, especially as they have only won four of their last 18 league games under Solskjaer.
So if United were badly off back then, where are they now?
Solskjaer said: “When you change managers halfway through the season it’s because a club isn’t where it wants to be.
“I’ve had 50 games since then and it isn’t where we want to be. We must improve and we are working hard to do that.”
So they still are not where they want to be 12 months on, yet Solskjaer actually believes he is turning things around.
Asked what state the club was in when he took over from Mourinho in December last year, he said: “I don’t really have to go into that.
“I think it was clear to see. I felt the team, towards the end of last season, didn’t have the desire, didn’t have the heart, didn’t have the belief that this is going to turn around. This group has a different mentality.”
So while Mourinho was not cut any slack after two successful years, Solskjaer is now preaching patience, believing United need continuity after six years of chopping and changing.
Solskjaer uses a defence that he is at the head of a long-term plan, building a team based on youth and academy products, so you cannot make knee-jerk decisions in this time.
He said: “I’m not going to tell anyone how to run their football clubs but I think everyone knows continuity is one of the keys of success. Some clubs have more patience than others, some clubs don’t have that time and continuity.
“For me, with Man United, we have a plan in place and hopefully we can get the results to speed it up.
“Sometimes it doesn’t go at the speed you want to but it’s still going in the right direction.
“There’s different aspects to this. It’s on the pitch, it’s behind the scenes, it’s what’s happening in the club.”
Solskjaer says they could easily be 12 points better off, claiming their six draws should have been wins. The Norwegian also believes he has a team that can beat ANYONE on their day.
He said: “I believe in these players. We can win any game, on any given day. But we need to get more consistency.
“We’ve had too many draws for my liking, and defeats of course, but the draws we should have turned into wins.
“For me, when we’ve got the full squad fit, I’m sure we can challenge and move up the table. We ended up sixth last season and we want to improve on that.”
Solskjaer is second favourite for the chop behind Everton boss Marco Silva. Three Premier League chiefs have gone already and the spectre of former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino waiting in the wings increases the pressure.
Solskjaer said: “It’s that time of year and it’s never nice to see your colleagues lose their jobs.
“It doesn’t make me more concerned. I’m just focusing on my job and doing as well as I can.
“I am looking forward to the next game and looking long term and planning things with the board.”
Solskjaer says he has a close relationship with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and they are on the same page even if the graph shows a downward trajectory.
He said: “We speak all the time so it’s not like knee jerk suddenly ‘now we need to talk’.
“We speak a few times every week so it’s continually progressing, the plans we’ve put in place and the rebuilding that we know we started.
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“We’ve made some decisions that were necessary and, of course, we’re not happy where we are but we’ll continue working.
“Three days or four days are not going to change a lot but these two games are great chances for us to prove things.”
What they do prove remains to be seen.
This post written by Jack Figg originally appeared on Football news - transfers, fixtures, scores, pictures | The Sun. Read the full post here.