Neil Humphreys: Sack Solskjaer or Man United's season is over
No room for sentimentality after humiliation at home to Tottenham
Manchester United have succeeded only in simplifying their shopping list.
They need a couple of centre-backs, a different executive vice-chairman and a new manager, or their season is over.
The English Premier League is often portrayed as overly complex, but the Red Devils' wretched 6-1 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur this morning (Singapore time) brings a sudden clarity.
|MAN UNITED||TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR|
|(Bruno Fernandes 2-pen)||(Tanguy Ndombele 4, Son Heung-min 7, 37, Harry Kane 30, 79-pen, Serge Aurier 51)|
Forget the price tag, Harry Maguire has morphed into a liability. Eric Bailly was given the thankless task of being Maguire's latest partner, which is rather like the sidekick joining forces with the leading man in a buddy cop movie.
He never makes it to the end of the movie. Bailly will not make it to the end of the season alongside Maguire. Neither man has the makings of a Manchester United centre-back.
How the Red Devils slumped to such woeful depths of defensive incompetence is painfully easy to explain.
In the stands, Ed Woodward fiddled with his mask. In the dugout, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fiddled as Old Trafford burned.
The dithering pair somehow allowed the fallen giants to reach the final days of the transfer window without sufficiently bolstering a weak squad, naively believing that Bruno Fernandes' form in Project Restart might be enough to carry them through an entire season.
And the frankly ridiculous links to Edinson Cavani should be grounds for dismissal for both men. A slowing 33-year-old Uruguayan striker offers no solution to any of United's numerous problems.
Cavani doesn't help a side that conceded four first-half goals at home for the first time in the EPL era. Cavani doesn't address Maguire's clueless heading for Spurs' first goal, or Bailly's lack of concentration for their second, or Bailly's misjudged pass for the third, or Maguire being nutmegged for the fourth.
A fading superstar should not pull focus from the erratic transfer dealings of Woodward, who has sanctioned spending that totals £500 million (S$882.3m) net over the past five years, or an inexperienced manager painfully out of his depth.
Solskjaer's legendary club status has granted a safety net that is now doing more harm than good for both parties.
Between manager and executive vice-chairman, the pair conspired to throw together a ramshackle squad that is still short of a left-back and a wide forward, on top of a pair of centre-backs and remains unable to halt the depressing demise of Paul Pogba.
As Tottenham chased and harried, the isolated Anthony Martial barely featured until his tame slap found Erik Lamela's face after half an hour and earned the Frenchman a feeble red card.
But Solskjaer would be wise not to apportion too much blame to losing a man, when the plot was already lost.
Jose Mourinho's lively 4-3-3 formation dominated possession, chances and shots on target, as his side surged forward at every opportunity.
Son Heung-min earned a brace for tearing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and the hapless Bailly to shreds. Harry Kane also scored twice, humiliating his hopeless England teammate Maguire along the way.
Tanguy Ndombele and Serge Aurier knocked in the other goals and deservedly so. Tottenham's victory was easy.
United lack any semblance of a coherent recruitment policy, struggling to offload deadwood let alone secure any worthwhile replacements. And their manager, always reluctant to challenge Woodward's indecision, continues to behave like a club mascot given a last-minute cameo on the pitch.
He still can't quite believe he's been given the gig.
But the gig is up now, surely. Six goals against Spurs at home, three goals against Crystal Palace at home, these numbers do not read like statistics. They are a charge sheet.
Solskjaer has always said that managing his beloved club is a dream job, but sentimentality has propped up the status quo for long enough.
The dream is over. Put the poor man out of his misery.
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Bailly, Shaw, Pogba, Matic (Fred 46), Greenwood (van de Beek 67), Fernandes (McTominay 46), Rashford, Martial
Lloris, Reguilon, Dier, Sanchez, Aurier, Ndombele (Alli 69), Hojbjerg, Sissoko, Son (Davies 73), Kane, Lamela (Moura 46)