Gary Neville has admitted that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will come under pressure if Manchester United’s wait for a trophy continues.
United missed out on the chance to reach the Carabao Cup final after losing to rivals Manchester City on Wednesday night.
The club have now lost four semi-finals – two in the Carabao Cup, one in the FA Cup and another in the Europa League – under Solskjaer over the past 12 months.
It means their wait for a trophy extends into a fourth year. Their last piece of silverware was the 2017 Europa League.
In truth, they deserved to lose to City, who produced an impressive performance – although the game was close.
Former United defender Neville admitted after the match that Solskjaer now has a problem that he has to fix – comparing his situation to the likes of Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.
He told Sky Sports: “I said before tonight that I felt there was more expectation on this game for me as a Man Utd fan than there will be a week on Sunday against Liverpool at Anfield.
“No one this season expected Man Utd to challenge for the league title, but I think there was a feeling: win a trophy.
“Ole, at the end of this season, will have been there two-and-a-half years, and to go two-and-a-half years without a trophy, it will start to bring a pressure, because it helps you on your way.
“Jurgen Klopp needed a trophy and eventually got the Champions League. Pep Guardiola won the League Cup; Jose Mourinho at various clubs has won the League Cup just to get them going. He needed something and they were so close to a final with this game and in good form.
“It does pose a problem. I wouldn’t say, sat here as a Man Utd fan, it causes me a great problem that in any way shape or form I’m looking at the manager’s job at any point, but it will bring pressure down the line. Because if they go to Anfield and lose, people will then say ‘glass half empty’ again. It can turn like that.
“The reason Ole will not be resting on his laurels is because when you’re in a job which presents the problem he had four, five, six weeks ago when he had people questioning whether he’d make it through to the end of the season, when it gets good – like it has in the last couple of days when they’re joint top of the league and have a game in hand now on Liverpool, and they’re in a semi-final – people think everything is fantastic.
“You don’t get carried away the other way, either.”
Critical point in Man Utd season
While United’s dreams of one trophy have been cast aside for the season, they are still fighting on three other fronts.
Their next game will see them commence their FA Cup run with a third round tie against Watford. They also have the chance to go top of the Premier League and will be hoping to progress when the Europa League resumes in February.
Neville wants United to show strong character over the next few weeks to prove they still have what it takes.
He added: “It’s a time for Man Utd to knuckle down. Not be too hard on themselves because I think they’ve played against a brilliant team.
“City turned up again. Ole will have been hoping Sunday [when City beat Chelsea] was a one-off; it wasn’t. They were at it again. He’ll know how good a team City are.
“I don’t think he’ll be too resigned to that – he’ll be massively disappointed, he’ll have wanted to take them that extra step, but I didn’t think Man Utd played badly. I thought they belonged in the game.
“And it could have gone the other way; Anthony Martial at the back post with the header, Harry Maguire with the header, little bits of luck that just go one way or the other. Ruben Dias clears a couple that maybe at the other end didn’t get cleared; Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s header to Fernandinho that ends up in the back of the net.
“They’re just details that decide games and the details went Man City’s way. You can’t argue with that because of the way they played.
“Solskjaer will I’m sure look at this game and think of it being not terminal in any way shape or form. It will be a massive disappointment, but he’ll want quick recovery.
“FA Cup, Burnley, Anfield. He’ll want big performances in the next couple of weeks.”