Ole Gunnar Solskjaer probably saved his job when Manchester United produced a commanding performance in their 3-1 win over Everton at Goodison Park last Saturday.
The pressure on the Norwegian was mounting and the familiar noises of out-of-work but talented managers getting linked with Manchester United were getting louder.
Manchester United have continued to insist that Solskjaer has their backing and they are still invested in him working out at Old Trafford eventually. But they have said it before for David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho and we all know how those stories unfolded.
Solskjaer has stayed on but he is two bad results from another crisis and a couple more bad performances from getting sacked. As long as managers such as Mauricio Pochettino and Massimiliano Allegri remain available, the prospect of the Norwegian getting sacked in the middle of the current season will continue to hover.
And if I was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, I will not be paying much heed to Manchester United briefing the media about backing him. Results will dictate his future at the club and not a vision or an abstract concept of Manchester United moving forward.
But Manchester United’s ills are not down to Solskjaer. While his lack of experience at the top level of management is an issue, it is not the biggest problem keeping the club down at the moment.
We need to look above the people above the manager – the Glazer family and their appointed men who run the club – Ed Woodward and Matt Judge.
Any manager would fail under the current Manchester United regime
While the Glazer family control the club, Ed Woodward is the man at charge at Old Trafford and he remains a figure of derision amongst the supporters.
He took charge of the club from David Gill in 2013 and has turned the club from Premier League champions to struggling to get into the top four in seven years.
Woodward has already sacked three managers in David Moyes, Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal and he is never too far away from seeing off another manager.
In any other job, Woodward would have got sacked for the way he has run the football side of things and the decisions he has taken in the last seven years.
While he has been insistent that he is no longer hands-on with the transfer activity of the club and a sort of transfer committee take the decisions, the muddled summer window was contrary to all the PR Woodward has been sprouting since last year.
The Jadon Sancho saga was an embarrassment to the club and they were left to do a trolley dash on deadline day.
Well-run transfer operations do not depend on clubs signing veteran forwards on free on the final day of the window. If Edinson Cavani was a target, why wasn’t he signed in June or July?
The summer followed an eerily similar pattern of Manchester United taking a step back on spending after a season where they qualified for Champions League.
Ivan Perisic didn’t arrive in 2017 when Jose Mourinho wanted a winger, a defender didn’t arrive a year later when the Portuguese cried out loud for a centre-back and Sancho didn’t arrive either when everyone and their grandmas knew that Manchester United wanted him and the player was keen on the move.
Managers are getting backed enough for the club to qualify for the Champions League and when they need the owners to maintain the momentum in the market, Manchester United seem to be taking a step back. It happened with Van Gaal and Mourinho and Solskjaer got a taste of it this summer.
Yet, Manchester United have spent big on paper over the last two years and have the second-highest wage bill in world football. Woodward has overseen all this but he has continued to retain the support of the Glazers.
And here we come to the Glazer family.
The Americans have never been popular since their highly leveraged takeover of Manchester United but the extent to which they are holding back the club only came to everyone’s notice after Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
They have put their trust on Ed Woodward and despite his failure at recruiting the right managers or setting up the right processes inside the club, he has continued to enjoy the support of his bosses.
Woodward has continued to build Manchester United’s financial juggernaut and the revenues have continued to soar despite their decline on the pitch.
The Premier League giants have remained a financial behemoth, the Glazers have continued to rake in the moolah and their performances on the pitch have become an afterthought.
The Manchester United executive vice-chairman continued to insist that he won’t rest until the club win the Premier League title again but where is the evidence?
In a summer where Chelsea went out on spent money to take advantage of the clubs in Spain, France and Germany holding back, Manchester United failed to land any of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s top targets.
Manchester United have been hamstringing their managers in the transfer market since Moyes took charge of the club in 2013 and that continued with Solskjaer.
There is talk of Mauricio Pochettino wanting the job but why?
He might get the initial backing from Manchester United and get his wish in the market but that will soon disappear. The way the Red Devils do business in the transfer window and the decision making process at the club remain acutely flawed.
There is an argument that a top manager with his force of personality could fix things at Old Trafford. But are we saying Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho didn’t have the personality?
Becoming a Manchester United manager is like entering a casino these days. You might think that you are winning in the first few tables but at the end of the day, the Casino always wins.
Good luck to anyone who wants to succeed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United as the club are gradually becoming unmanageable.