Dubai: While Manchester United were turning on the style and cruising to a 4-0 victory over Norwich City over the weekend, the protests against the board and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward continued to rain down from the stands.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were putting in arguably their best performance of the season, but their ability to sweep aside the Canaries seemed only to add fuel to the fire for the frustrated fans.
Never has ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ been more appropriate as a metaphor than for this United side, who can look like world beaters one week and then a Conference side the next. Thump Burnley and Newcastle, then limp to a squalid defeat to Watford. Get humiliated by Arsenal and Manchester City, then ooze class in a stellar performance against Norwich.
It is clear to see how this can infuriate the fans. If every showing was insipid, then the issues would be clear and the problems eradicated. But with fans unsure which team will turn up on any given day, they are venting their displeasure at the suits upstairs at Old Trafford, demanding consistency and clarity over the club’s future plans and vision.
Solskjaer made all the right noises after the thrashing of Norwich, insisting the club and fans must all stick together, but question marks still remain if he is the right man to take them forward with an iron fist like the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson did.
On Saturday evening, supporters in the Stretford End chanted “we want Glazers out” and sang profanities against executive vice-chairman Woodward.
“I am not sure if the players got it. I noticed it, yeah,” said Solskjaer.
“We are a family and I can only say from my time here I have been backed by the owners and backed by Ed. They are supporting me so we have to stick together.”
Solskjaer’s own position is constantly under question because of inconsistent performances, but the Norwegian pointed out: “We are in all competitions, still in the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup, we are fifth in the league, have improved our position from last season, and we have the Europa League.
“So the fans have to believe me when I say I feel we are doing loads of good things behind the scenes, we are going in the right directions.
“You saw the attitude, effort and work-rate, that is the core of the group that will go forward.”
They might not be in all competitions for long.
Failure to get past Wolves in their FA Cup replay in midweek will make Solskjaer’s position a little more shaky.
Oh, yes, then it is Liverpool at Anfield up in the league at the weekend. With inconsistency being the only constant at Old Trafford, that could get very messy indeed.
Speaking of Liverpool, we all know how the runaway league leaders have come on leaps and bounds since their Champions League triumph last spring. But their victory over Tottenham on Saturday brought into sharp focus how big the gap has become over their fellow finalists in Europe’s elite competition.
The Reds are already breaking records every week and seem to be a shoo-in for their first league title in 30 years, but Spurs look stuck in reverse, unable to recover from that final defeat in Madrid and are now 31 points off the top of the table in the Premier League and languish down in eighth in the standings and nine points adrift of the top four.
With captain and star striker Harry Kane out and Jose Mourinho struggling to get the best out of his collection of highly paid lot, it could be a long process before they are challenging again and a major clear out could be on the cards if the Portuguese Special One wants to hold on to the job.
1 Liverpool 61 pts
2 Man City 47 pts
3 Leicester 45 pts
4 Chelsea 39 pts
5 Man Utd 34 pts
6 Sheff Utd 32 pts
7 Wolverhampton 31 pts
8 Tottenham 30 pts
9 Crystal Palace 29 pts
10 Arsenal 28 pts
11 Everton 28 pts
12 Southampton 28 pts
13 Newcastle 26 pts
14 Brighton 24 pts
15 Burnley 24 pts
16 West Ham 22 pts
17 Watford 22 pts
18 Aston Villa 21 pts
19 Bournemouth 20 pts
20 Norwich 14 pts