Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane yesterday saw a bleak future for newly-appointed manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Keane warned that United players will turn on Ole – just like other post-Ferguson coaches and more recently Jose Mourinho.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Keane used the phrase ‘Leopards don’t change their spots’ to warn Solskjaer his players could still be the same (ability wise and mentally) – which could consequently cost him his job for underperformance.
“You're supposed to be up for every game, doesn't matter if you're playing for Man United or Altrincham. These were the players that threw Mourinho under the bus, and they'll do the same to Ole. Leopards don't change their spots. It's a big test for Ole,” said Keane.
And I agree.
Manchester United players lately have not been doing justice to the badge at the front of the shirt. One would think most of them picked to start matches, only care about names on the back of their jerseys.
Keane issued this warning before Man United’s humiliating 4-0 defeat to Everton, which not only confirmed the lack of desire in the squad but also revealed to football faithful a deeply-rooted problem at Old Trafford, one which even the ‘Special One’ could not crack.
“You can’t change your whole squad. One step at a time. I am going to be successful here and there are players who won’t be part of that successful team,” reiterated Solskjaer after the defeat at Goodison Park.
Imagine if this was six months ago. Imagine if this was Mourinho who had said these words after a 4-0 drubbing. Wouldn’t every anti-Mourinho enthusiast on the World Wide Web be snapping away at their keyboards, bashing his ‘public approach of criticising players’?
Just before the season 2018/19 started, Mourinho talked of how finishing second with this Man United team was one of his greatest achievements in football.
He didn’t mention the Europa League success in his first season. He, somehow saw something only a proper coach would see in players’ attitudes and abilities that seriously needed addressing.
“I think that is a fundamental thing. If I tell you, for example, that I can see that one of the best jobs of my career was to finish second with Manchester United in the Premier League? You say ‘this guy is crazy. He won 25 titles and he’s saying that second position was one of his best achievements in football’. I keep saying this because people don’t know what is going on behind the scenes,” calmly explained Mourinho.
Could he have been right?
Manchester United have now lost seven of nine matches since Solskjaer took charge.
In-between this series of poor performances, most transfer gossip circulating around European tabloids have adversely mentioned top Man United players.
This period has also been marred with news of critical players stalling in contract negotiations.
Could it be that some of these players have already made up their minds about leaving the club?
A considerable section of the Man United fan base now feel the board appointed Solskjaer too quick and based on victories against clubs which, ideally, the Red Devils should have beaten even under Mourinho.
‘I am going to be successful here’
Perhaps one reason why Man United was briefly revived after Solskjaer’s appointment was the positive vibe it brought after a hot and cold Mourinho regime.
Solskjaer, adored by the fans and remembered for his iconic last-gasp Champions League final goal against Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp in 1999, seemed to have given the players a reason to play again – reminding them of how lucky they are to play for Man United.
He has promised to ship out some players in the approaching transfer window and bring in some new ones, whose style of play, desire and capabilities match those of a Man United player.
“I can see so many good things about this squad - things that we can improve on - and I have 100 per cent confidence that we can find the right players to come in and fit our mold of the personality and quality,” said Solskjaer after the Everton match.