Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in a difficult position coming out of the most recent international break, something which has been exacerbated by the media frenzy following the club and its players after a disastrous 1-6 defeat to Tottenham Hotspurs. Allegations were made surrounding the tense locker room clash at half-time of that game, with the most common focus being Bruno Fernandes and Solskjaer’s working relationship. Some reports even alleged that Bruno was done with Solskjaer, fueling even more Mauricio Pochettino rumors.
Needless to say, football Twitter lit up with these rumors.
"Fernandes loses faith in Solskjaer". True https://t.co/mpaP3i7N0S— Gonçalo Lopes (@_GoncaloLopes) October 14, 2020
Unnamed #mufc matchday staff: "It was clear that the manager also came under fire because he was going on about the wrong tactics. There were other raised voices, but his [Bruno] was the one which seemed to carry the main force." #mulive [mirror]— utdreport (@utdreport) October 10, 2020
Along with Harry Maguire’s red card, Paul Pogba’s comments on Real Madrid, Paul Scholes’ comments on United’s forwards, and even more Mauricio Pochettino rumors, the break turned out to be quite the annoyance for a club that can’t afford any more distractions.
Bruno Fernandes, however, quickly worked to clarify what had happened.
"Do not use my name, my colleagues or the coach to make trouble at Manchester United"— utdreport (@utdreport) October 15, 2020
Bruno Fernandes hits back at speculation over his relationship with Ole Gunnar Solskjær
“I believe it is a way to destabilize the group,” Bruno said. “What was said is in no way true. I was replaced at half-time, it is true, by technical option. The coach told me that the game was almost over and that we would have a lot of games ahead of us. Got it. I was not satisfied but said nothing that could harm the group.”
This is the first time Solskjaer has been rumored to have lost the locker room, as even when the club were on a skid early in their 2019/20 campaign morale appeared to remain high. Bruno’s comments provide clarity, and he reaffirmed his support for Solskjaer.
“Do not use my name, my colleagues or the coach to make trouble at Manchester United,” Bruno said. “The atmosphere is good and the team is ready to give an answer in the next game.”
With all of the negativity surrounding the club after very worrying displays in their opening three Premier League fixtures there is extra pressure on United to perform. The schedule isn’t getting any easier, and Anthony Martial’s suspension forces Solskjaer to reshape his forward line. The arrival of Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani give Ole first team option reinforcements, but Cavani won’t be available until the PSG match on Tuesday. Telles is available for Newcastle, but has only had a handful of sessions with his new teammates.
Still, Ole has had to overcome poor form before, and with less talent too. There is a lot of pressure on the manager and the team to start turning out results, and there is certainly more pressure on getting a result against Newcastle United than fans would like there to be. Still, it’s important to remember that despite it being mid-October, this unusual and tightly packed season is still young. Don’t get too caught up in the frenzy of speculation surrounding Manchester United’s season before it’s truly up and running.
And maybe this is misplaced optimism, and a couple months from now we’ll be having another conversation entirely. But that’s for us to see a couple months from now. For the time being the distractions need to be considered just that, distractions.