Champions League performances were what got Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the Manchester United job, but they could now be what sees him lose it.
The boss is under pressure following United’s 2-1 defeat to Swiss side Young Boys, which saw Antonio Conte and Zinedine Zidane trend on Twitter as Solskjaer continues to under perform in Europe.
Solskjaer has now been in his position at Old Trafford for almost three years, and is yet to win a trophy, despite seeing improvements in the Premier League with a second-placed finish last season.
But in Europe, the story is very different, particularly in the Champions League.
United lost last season’s Europa League final to Spanish side Villarreal, but were only in their second-tier competition after failing to qualify from their Champions League group.
Under Solskjaer, United have lost seven of their 11 matches, which equates to 13 per cent of their total defeats in the competition, despite Solskjaer only being in charge for 4.8 per cent of their matches.
United have now only kept a single clean sheet in their 11 Champions League matches under Solskjaer, with that being a 5-0 win over Leipzig last season.
Against Young Boys, they managed just two shots – the fewest football statisticians Opta have on record in any of their 138 Champions League matches since the 2003/04 season.
Their second and final shot of the match came in the 25th minute from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Serial winners Conte and Zidane, meanwhile, are two of the most high-profile managers to be out of work in recent years, both on extended sabbaticals after leaving Inter and Real Madrid respectively.
Solskjaer was initially given the job on a caretaker basis in December 2018 following the sacking of Jose Mourinho.
The Norwegian set United on an impressive run of 10 wins and a draw in his first 11 matches in all competitions, before PSG came to town in the last 16 of the Champions League and inflicted a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford.
No side in the competition’s history had ever progressed after losing a first leg by two goals, but United stormed back at the Parc des Princes, with a double from Romelu Lukaku and a stoppage time Marcus Rashford penalty securing an astonishing 3-1 win.
Solskjaer was given the job on a permanent basis after the historic comeback, but results in Europe have failed to live up to expectations.
The 48-year-old has also been backed heavily by the club’s hierarchy, with the blockbuster purchases of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane this summer.
And talkSPORT host Jason Cundy suggested the writing may be on the wall for Solskjaer despite United’s promising start in the Premier League.
“I’d sack him,” he said after the defeat,” he said. “We know what’s coming, don’t we? You’ve got Antonio Conte out there…”
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