The seemingly never-ending international breaks during the back end of the year make it hard for teams to find any rhythm given how frequent they are. In many ways, the season begins in earnest once the November internationals conclude given that domestic football will have 18 uninterrupted weeks of competition until the World Cup play-offs begin in March. In essence, the season will be won or lost over the next four months.
For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he will fight to save his job over the next four months but he should get off to a decent start after the international break due to Manchester United’s relatively kind run of fixtures in both the Premier League and Champions League. That’s not to suggest that the Red Devils are in any way capable of winning Europe’s greatest domestic competition as the Champions League winner odds will illustrate with Solskjaer’s men being priced at 16/1 to do so. That said, the Champions League predictions for the remainder of the group stages suggest that United will comfortably make it into the Round of 16 at the very least, which is at least some consolation.
“Solskjaer is a decent guy, but at the business end, it’s about the elite guys.”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) October 25, 2021
Further success is predicted in the Premier League with the Red Devils facing Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Norwich, Brentford, Brighton, Newcastle, and Burnley over December. Crucially, only Brighton and Arsenal are in the top half of the league, but there is a growing feeling that the Seagulls are in the process of crashing down to earth with a resurgent Arsenal the only real test for Solskjaer’s men. Still, it’s worth pointing out that Arsenal’s last win at Old Trafford came in 2006 so there’s more reason to believe that this fixture will provide some early festive cheer.
In addition to that, four out of seven fixtures over December are at Old Trafford, which means that there’s a very real possibility that United could pick maximum points over the holidays. Indeed, it could well be the most wonderful time of the year for Solskjaer after a year of scrutiny that will inevitably have taken a huge psychological toll on the Norwegian. With that said, the pressure won’t entirely go away as the knives are out after an indifferent start to the league so one false move against the Premier League’s basement boys could effectively spell the end for the 48-year-old in the Old Trafford dugout.
It’s hard to imagine that Solskjaer would find himself managing a club of Manchester United’s stature ever again if that happened and he will know as much. In other words, the upcoming fixtures give the Norwegian a golden opportunity to save his job at the club he used to play for and he’ll be aware that he has to grab it with both hands or else face managerial obscurity in the future.
Football can be a cruel business but no one can argue that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hasn’t been on the receiving end of some fortunate breaks since becoming the Manchester United manager.
December provides yet enough chance for the 48-year-old to capitalise on the chances he’s been given by winning games and prolonging his stay at Old Trafford, should he fail to do so then it will surely be all she wrote for the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ as the United hierarchy finally turn the knife.