Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is fighting to save his job and losing the confidence of those in charge at Manchester United.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who handed Solskjaer a three-year deal in March, is understood to be losing patience with the team’s woeful form.
Sunday’s abject 1-0 defeat at struggling Newcastle has left struggling United down in 12 places in the Premier League, just two points above the relegation zone, after just two wins in eight games.
Former United midfielder Paul Ince has branded the team’s form “embarrassing”, amid claims Solskjaer is losing the dressing-room.
A heavy defeat to arch-rivals and Premier League leaders Liverpool, United’s next opponents after the international break, could be the end for Solskjaer.
Solskjaer was without a number of key players for the defeat at St James’ Park, including Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Victor Lindelof, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw.
But with all of them expected back for the Liverpool clash at Old Trafford on October 20, a heavy defeat in that game could convince Woodward and owners the Glazers to ditch Solskajer, with the 20-times champions in freefall.
It is understood several of United’s senior players have begun to question Solskjaer’s tactical acumen, while his claim that he “needed to sort their heads out” after the Newcastle game has not gone down well within the dressing-room.
Ince laid into Solskjaer’s United and said: “You’re talking about a Manchester United team who in two games – Newcastle AZ Alkmaar – they’ve had something like three shots on target.
“It’s horrendous, something isn’t right and they should be embarrassed.
“You’re talking 15 points behind Liverpool after eight games.
“We knew United weren’t going to be top two or three but it could be 18 points in a couple of weeks! To be that far apart is embarrassing and disappointing.
“When Jose Mourinho was there we could see that there were a lot of players that were clearly not happy, and we’re seeing that again now.
“Ole came in and boosted the team momentarily but, right now, the players look completely miserable there.
“United fans deserve more. They’ll always support the team and club, as we heard and saw from them against Newcastle, cheering and clapping for Ole.
“They’ll always back their team but they want to see improvements. They’ve got to see some progress, something that makes them believe in what’s happening at the club.”