Manchester United fans cannot get out of ground quickly enough as Burnley heap more misery on Solskjaer

Jason Burt
Manchester United fans voted with their feet - AFP

The chant was raised just after the hour, with Manchester United two goals down and heading aimlessly towards another desperate defeat. “Stand up if you hate the Glazers,” came the angry demand from the Stretford End as disillusioned fans rose around Old Trafford in their numbers, with a growing sense of mutiny that could not have gone unnoticed by the power brokers.

There were other songs, one disgusting and unacceptable, directed at the United owners and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, and there were boos at the end, amid the huge swathes of empty seats, as Burnley deservedly collected their first win at this stadium in 21 visits since 1962. And to think this was once a fortress.

It was a deserved win for Burnley that further eased their relegation fears and even took them to within four points of United, who somehow still find themselves in fifth place with a paltry total of 34 points.

Indeed, Newcastle, in 14th, are also only four points behind United, which is an indictment of the poor quality of the Premier League this season, rather than any claim to its alleged competitiveness.

This was supposed to be the evening in which Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could proclaim that United were back in the race for fourth place. A win would have narrowed the gap to just three points behind faltering Chelsea, but in the absence of the injured Marcus Rashford United are simply toothless, just bereft, just rudderless, just lost.

If Woodward felt hiring a club legend as manager might insulate him from criticism, he was wrong. Instead, he is now in the crosshairs of the furious supporters. The fans have not turned on Solskjaer – not yet – but since being made permanent manager last March, he has lost more league games (12) than he has won (11) and, while Liverpool have dropped just two points during that time, United have lost out on 57.

Big Chris Wood opens the scoring Credit: Reuters

What a stunning, incredible daunting gap, with the former United player Rio Ferdinand, in his role as a pundit, angrily asking “£600 million … on what?” in reference to the money squandered on transfers and this unimpressive squad in recent years.

There will be further pressure on Woodward to spend after this debacle, with a striker painfully needed, as Anthony Martial failed in Rashford’s absence, and the predictability of United’s attempts to sign Bruno Fernandes turning into an avoidable transfer saga as they haggle over the price with his club, Sporting. This for a midfielder they said they were not interested in last summer and who is suddenly being elevated to the status of saviour.

Some United players are running on empty and have played too much, including Daniel James, while this was not a good night for Solskjaer’s recently anointed club captain Harry Maguire. The defender was at fault for both of Burnley’s goals and had a ponderous, uncertain game throughout. Andreas Pereira, Fred and Juan Mata all struggled. Solskjaer had to put a consoling arm around another of his signings, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, at the final whistle.

"It is hard to be sitting here and criticising. These are ex-teammates. But you cannot sit here and lie."

Here is OGS: "We hold our hands up. Not good enough. Not sharp enough to take our chances in the first half.  They boys are giving everything they have got, they are experiencing this for the first time. Expectations are high, it is not easy for them. I am going to back them, and help them get through this.

"Of course we are disappointed with the points tally. But we are fifth in the table. I don't want to hang on to the fact that we are fifth in the table. We are looking to improve. Days like this highlights how well some of them have done this season. I thought we had turned the corner, we keep chipping away.

"[Recruitment] is always going to be the talk, we have started a clear out and this is the transfer window so there will be questions. But for me, this is Man United and we have to perform on the pitch."