In pictures: Watford v Man Utd
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is on the brink of the sack at Manchester United after his side suffered an embarrassing 4-1 defeat against Watford at Vicarage Road. But despite the Norwegian’s precarious position, his former team-mate Gary Neville has once again refused to call for his departure.
Solskjaer looked forlorn on the touchline after watching the Red Devils put in a woeful first-half display as Watford dominated proceedings.
Ismaila Sarr saw two spot-kicks saved by David de Gea after VAR forced a retake for encroachment when Kiko Femenia struck home the rebound.
But the Hornets put the sting into their rivals with Joshua King opening the scoring and Sarr righted his earlier wrong with a fine effort from a tight angle.
Substitute Donny van de Beek got one back five minutes after coming off the bench but Harry Maguire’s red card dashed their hopes of an equaliser.
Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis made sure of the three points in stoppage time to pile the pressure on Solskjaer.
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It means United have picked up only four points since September 25 — the worst record of any Premier League side — as the axe looms over the 48-year-old.
The Red Devils have also lost five of their last seven matches in the Premier League, with Solskjaer heavily backed by the bookmakers to leave his position.
But Neville, who played with Solskjaer for the majority of his Man United career before the Norwegian retired in 2006, maintained his position with a brief post-match comment.
Neville wrote: “Shocker for United”, with a emoji depicting a hand over face, to his 4.8million followers on Twitter.
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But the comment lacked any depth and fans piled in to question why the Sky Sports pundit was once again seemingly avoiding criticising his close friend Solskjaer.
The 46-year-old made his position clear on Twitter when responding to a United fan website calling for him to “throw in the towel” when it came to slamming the United boss.
He wrote “Never, thanks for asking though”, with a thumbs up to make his stance perfectly clear.
Some had taken Neville to task over his inability to lambast Solskjaer due to their friendship, especially when Roy Keane and Paul Scholes had done so in recent weeks.
But Neville has been consistent in his approach, previously refusing to stick the knife in when former managers David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho were all under pressure.
Club legend Rio Ferdinand has taken the opposite view, urging Solskjaer to give another boss a chance to turn things around after their 2-0 defeat to Manchester City a fortnight ago.
He said on his Five with Vibe podcast: “We started this season with such hope but also the transfer window that we had, the excitement, we were all sitting there going ‘this is our time now.
“Ole was brought in to get us to that point. He was brought in to get the squad intact, get the players in to make us challenge for the league.
“I sit here now and I don’t think we can challenge for this league. I look at our team every week wondering what are we gonna do tactically?
“I don’t see any philosophy or identity in the Man United way of playing whatever that should be from the management. I sit here looking confused at the team.
“I was always deep down a bit sceptical, could he take us on to be champions? I wasn’t fully convinced – I wasn’t sure he could do that.
“But the showing with the squad that he accumulated, to the beginning of this season – and what I’ve seen this season – I just feel it might be about the time now for the baton to be handed over to somebody else who can take us on now.
“And I think Ole would leave now with his head held high because from when he came in to where he got us at the beginning of the season I think it’s been positive.”
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