Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still “deserves” to become Manchester United’s permanent manager and that his first Premier League loss was “not embarrassing”, says Gary Neville.
After 12 Premier League games unbeaten since replacing Jose Mourinho as caretaker manager in December, Solskjaer fell to both his first defeat in the league and on the road to old rivals Arsenal on Sunday evening.
Granit Xhaka’s early long-range strike put Arsenal ahead at the Emirates Stadium before a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty in the second half secured the Gunners a 2-0 win, despite United’s best efforts.
Nevertheless, former Red Devils captain Neville is certain Solskjaer deserves the nod for the permanent job as the Red Devils have already tried and failed with some of the biggest names in football management.
This comes in light of reports linking Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino to the post.
“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has retained his positivity in every single press conference he has done so far and will retain it at the end of this game,” Neville said in his Sky Sports podcast.
“He’ll point to big moments in the game that didn’t go his way, understanding that it can happen because he has had a lot of moments go his way in the last two or three months but today, it felt a bit like one game too far – their luck ran out.
“United have it all to play for. I do think Solskjaer will get the job because what he has done in these three months deserves a shot at it.
“The board at United have tried everything – they’ve tried one of the best manager in the world in Jose Mourinho, the experienced guy in Louis van Gaal, who had been at all the biggest clubs in Europe and then you think about giving it to David Moyes, which is the approach the club had always taken about the British manager who deserves a chance.
“The only thing they’ve not done is given it to one of their own who understands the club. Solskjaer has connected the club, the results have been incredible and there was always going to be a defeat.
“But it’s not been a defeat that’s embarrassing, Manchester United could easily have drawn or won that match today, it’s just gone against them in the big moments.
“I think ultimately, what Solskjaer has done already when they drew with Burnley or lost in the Champions League to PSG, is got them to respond straight away.
“One defeat is a blip. Two defeats, people start to ask questions. Three defeats is a bit of a crisis and four defeats, you’re in trouble – that’s the way it works in modern football.
“But he has built up too much favour, he’s done too much in the last three months not to have a shot at this and today, Arsenal just shaded it a little bit more.”
United will next take on Wolves at Molineux this Saturday in a FA Cup quarter-final tie.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 10, 2019