Manchester: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pleaded for time to get Manchester United back on track after the beleaguered boss and his underperforming stars were booed off and labelled an “embarrassment” following Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat against Burnley.
Solskjaer’s side were rocked by Chris Wood’s first half opener before Jay Rodriguez scored with a superb strike after the break at Old Trafford.
It was a woeful display from fifth placed United, who are in such poor form that there will be fresh questions about Solskjaer’s job security in the coming days.
Former United defender Rio Ferdinand, a Premier League and Champions League winner with the club, slammed the performance and called for owners Glazer family to take action to stop the rot.
“Fans are walking out after 84 minutes! It’s an embarrassment. People at the top need to look and see this and make changes,” Ferdinand told BT Sport. “The downward spiral in this short space of time, it’s only seven years, has been remarkable.”
Solskjaer had no complaints about a result that laid bare everything wrong with a rudderless team lacking steel in defence, creativity in midfield and a cutting edge up front.
“We have got to hold our hands up and say it wasn’t good enough. In the first half we created some half openings but we were not sharp enough to take our chances,” Solskjaer said.
“The boys have given everything they have got but they are experiencing this period for the first time in their lives.
“When you are at Manchester United you are playing at the biggest and best club in the world. Some of them have played 10, 12, 15 games and it’s not easy for them.”
United trail six points behind fourth placed Chelsea but, given how they have struggled so often this season, the only surprise is that the gap isn’t bigger.
United’s tally of 34 points is their lowest after 24 matches of a top-flight season since 1989-90 and the majority of Old Trafford was on its feet when chants of “stand up if you hate Glazers” echoed around the ground.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was also subjected to abusive chants in a toxic atmosphere, while those few fans who remained in the stadium booed Solskjaer and his players at full-time.
But Solskjaer is still adamant he can turn the tide if he is given time to develop United youngsters like Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams.
“I’m going to back them and help them get through this. The players are giving everything, they have done absolutely fantastic so far this season but they know it wasn’t good enough tonight,” Solskjaer said.
“The boys looked mentally tired towards the end, we didn’t find that creativity. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves.
“When you are at Man United you are privileged because you are playing for the best club in the world. Sometimes you go through periods like that and it is a test I am sure they are going to come through.”
United must regroup to avoid more misery in the FA Cup fourth round against Watford or Tranmere on Sunday before they head to Manchester City looking to overturn a 3-1 first leg deficit in the League Cup semi-finals next Wednesday.
Tottenham boosted their top four prospects with a 2-1 win over Norwich on Wednesday.
Solskjaer’s side suffered a third defeat in their last four Premier League games to put the United boss’s job security back under the microscope.
Burnley’s first top-flight win at Old Trafford since 1962, secured by Chris Wood’s 39th minute opener and a Jay Rodriguez thunderbolt after the break, exposed the flaws in a lacklustre United side who have made their worst start to a season since 1989-90.
The majority of Old Trafford was on its feet when chants of “stand up if you hate Glazers” echoed around the ground in reference to United’s owners.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was also subjected to many other abusive chants, while those few fans who remained in the stadium booed Solskjaer and his players at full-time.
Former United defender Rio Ferdinand, a Premier League and Champions League winner with the club, slammed the performance and called for the US-based Glazer family to take action to stop the rot.
“I can’t defend this,” Ferdinand told BT Sport. “These young kids now in schools around the country, they are not going to be wearing Manchester United shirts.
“Fans are walking out after 84 minutes! It’s an embarrassment. People at the top need to look and see this and make changes, put a plan in place that people can sit there and see where we are going now. I don’t see it.”
Fifth placed United are six points behind fourth placed Chelsea as they battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top four finish.
Solskjaer admitted United had only themselves to blame, but he claimed the youngsters in his side deserved some patience.
“The boys have given everything they’ve got. They are experiencing this period for the first time in their lives, some of them,” he said.
“It’s very difficult for them. The expectations of this club as well are high, and some of them have played 10, 12 or 15 games and it’s not easy for them.
“Of course I’m going to back them. I’m going to be here to help them get through this. When you’re at Man United there’s always going to be criticism.
“We can’t do anything but hold our hands up and say ‘this isn’t good enough for this club’. Of course we’re disappointed in the points tally and performances, we’re still fifth in the table.”
Tottenham needed a late winner from Son Heung-min to snap a four-game winless streak in the league and breathe new life into their push for a top-four spot.
Dele Alli’s opener had ended a three-game run without even scoring in the league for sixth placed Spurs before Teemu Pukki’s penalty 20 minutes from time for bottom-of-the-table Norwich.
South Korea forward Son’s stooping header 11 minutes from time hauled Jose Mourinho’s men within six points of Chelsea.
Elsewhere, Ayoze Perez scored twice as third placed Leicester ended their two-match winless league run with a 4-1 victory over West Ham that was marred by an injury to their leading scorer Jamie Vardy.
Vardy limped off just before half-time at the King Power Stadium. Asked about Vardy, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said: “Hopefully over the next couple of days it will ease off and he will be fit.”
Manchester United 0 Burnley 2
Leicester 4 West Ham 1
Tottenham 2 Norwich 1