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Man United boss Solskjaer flies back to Norway with his family after Man City loss



Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has escaped the noise surrounding his Manchester United future by flying back home to Norway with his family on Monday.

Solskjaer has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks with his future at Old Trafford being questioned following a number of calamitous performances against fierce rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.

United were booed off at half-time and full time against City on Saturday following a defeat that was every bit as humiliating as the five-goal mauling against Liverpool two weeks earlier..

And now it appears the 48-year-old is looking to seek out some home comforts back in Norway while a number of his first-team players head off on international duty.

Solskjaer was pictured on Monday afternoon carrying a sky blue bag as he and his wife and two sons made their way to the Signature Private Jet Terminal at Manchester Airport.

The Norwegian manager looked to be in high spirits before boarding his flight back to Molde.

It comes days after the Manchester derby at the Theatre of Dreams turned into the stuff of nightmares for Solskjaer as he watched his helpless United side lack any quality to go toe-to-toe with Pep Guardiola’s men.

After going down to an Eric Bailly own goal and then a poorly-defended Bernardo Silva second on the stroke of half-time, Solskjaer was left to question where it all went so wrong once again.

It saw the United boss come out swinging, where he insisted that he is ready to soldier on as manager of Manchester United, despite another chastening home defeat.

The United boss conceded that the 2-0 defeat was ‘a big step backwards’ and admitted he is glad for the international break — as former United stars lined up to criticise ‘a mauling’ by their rivals.

‘As long as I am here I want to do what I can do to improve this,’ said Solskjaer. ‘When you lose a game against a good team you want to see a better Man United team than that.

‘We needed to be aggressive. It [the international break] has come at a good time for us now. We’ve had a difficult spell.’

Pressed on whether he is the man to change the club’s fortunes, Solskjaer insisted: ‘Yes, definitely.’

City had toyed with their rivals at Old Trafford and alarmingly for United, Solskjaer acknowledged that he is currently picking teams to stifle opponents, having switched to a back five to beat Tottenham last Sunday.

‘Tottenham last week was good but it’s not what we want to look like,’ he added. ‘Unfortunately, we’ve had to [do that] to try and get results.

‘We want to be on the front foot and be more aggressive. For us, it’s all about [the next game against] Watford. We have to come our like a hurt animal.’

United had previously insisted that Solskjaer’s job was not under threat but would be reviewed later in December.

However, United’s plans to keep him in charge until the end of the season have been thrown into disarray after a disastrous few weeks that have seen the club lose ground in the title race.

United were hoping to make a decision on Solskjaer’s future in the summer when any change of manager could be planned out. However, back-to-back home defeats have put Solskjaer firmly in the spotlight.

The feeling of optimism around the club in the summer that he could lead United to a title challenge this season has given way to a sense of shock and uncertainty.

So far, there has been no appetite among the United hierarchy to sack Solskjaer having aligned themselves so closely with the Old Trafford legend and his task of restoring the club’s true values after succeeding Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal.

Co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward would have preferred to wait until the summer to assess the situation when the Norwegian would have been in the job for three-and-a-half years. Any change then would be viewed as considered with more time to install a suitable replacement.

They resisted calls to axe Solskjaer and appoint Antonio Conte two weeks ago before the Italian joined Tottenham because he was seen as a short-term option and too confrontational.

However, action may be forced on Solskjaer’s bosses if they decide that the former Cardiff manager is no longer capable of stopping the slide.

On Sunday night, United and sources close to Brendan Rodgers played down speculation that the Leicester City boss has already been approached to replace Solskjaer.

After the international break, United face Watford, Chelsea, Arsenal and Crystal Palace in the Premier League having dropped nine points behind leaders Chelsea after only 11 games.

They also face Villarreal and Young Boys in the Champions League with qualification from a relatively easy Group F far from guaranteed.

Doubts are growing within a squad of players who seemed so tight-knit on a pre-season training camp in Scotland last summer, encouraging senior United figures that they would mount a strong title challenge.

It is understood that Fernandes is among the players who feel as though they aren’t being given a clear plan by Solskjaer and his overgrown backroom team, with others expressing concern that too many young coaches are learning on the job.

After failing so miserably to execute a pressing game against Liverpool, United changed to a more defensive 3-4-1-2 that doesn’t suit the club’s ambitions or the attacking squad he has assembled.

However, Solskjaer’s tactics were easily dismantled by Pep Guardiola who used his wide players, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus, to pin down United’s wing-backs. Solskjaer changed to a back four at half-time but the game was lost by then.

Ronaldo was well aware when he returned to United that times had changed in the 12 years he had been away, but the Portugal star is said to be shocked at just how far the standards have slipped.

His frustration boiled over again when he was booked for a cynical late challenge on Kevin De Bruyne, having escaped a red card against Liverpool when he hacked out at Curtis Jones.

There is also a feeling within the dressing room that Solskjaer shows favouritism to some players and is too soft on the squad.

Questions have been asked about whether United’s work-rate would be so poor if Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp were in charge.

Harry Maguire continues to be selected despite a catastrophic loss of form which sources believe started after playing for England at the Euros. Luke Shaw, too, hasn’t been the same player since the tournament.

Yet Van de Beek continues to be largely frozen out by Solskjaer who is also ignoring Jesse Lingard. There are fears that Sancho’s career is stagnating little more than three months after his £73million arrival from Dortmund.

Van de Beek and Sancho came on as substitutes against City, and the warm welcome United fans gave the Dutchman is as close as they have come to turning against Solskjaer.

Van de Beek’s team-mates don’t understand why he hasn’t been given more of a chance since his £40m move from Ajax.

The other United substitute on Saturday was Rashford, but it’s understood the England forward returned from the Champions League draw against Atalanta in Italy with flu symptoms and was sent home from training on Wednesday.

Rashford did not train on Thursday or Friday — and stayed away from the team hotel before the derby — but was deemed a better option than Lingard or Anthony Martial when he was sent on in the 67th minute.

The decision mystified his team-mates and an under-par Rashford struggled to offer anything as United slipped to another chastening defeat.

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