WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Keep Ole at the wheel
Let’s have a speedy Q&A with Manchester United fans:
1. Is the current squad good enough?
2. Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer therefore to blame for the club’s malaise?
"Oh, absolutely. He’s 100% to blame"
How can there be such disdain for Solskjaer given his handcuffs? Sure, there are small pockets of reasonable United fans prepared to give the Norwegian a little longer to turn it around, but the general consensus appears to be get rid.
Solskjaer moved closer to joining Moyes, Van Gaal and Mourinho on the Old Trafford scrapheap after his tactics were blamed for the 3-1 home defeat to Manchester City. Little sympathy was shown by Team Keyboard Warrior after Phil Jones (United’s most senior outfield player on Tuesday night) was shoehorned into the defence after Harry Maguire failed a late fitness test. Nor were many quick to recall the last Manchester derby – a 2-1 win for United in December – or the fact that however inspirational you may or may not be, Andreas Pereira will always be Andreas Pereira.
No, this mess cannot be laid solely at Solskjaer’s door. He’s doing his best to stamp out the memory of three chequebook managers, binning Alexis Sanchez to other shores amongst others and rebuilding the team around young players. But that takes time. And until he’s allowed to construct a squad that is stronger than Wolverhampton Wanderers’, he should be backed by all at the club.
'Pride at stake after worst United showing of season' - Solskjaer
Mbappe to Liverpool
Kylian Mbappe’s lifelong dream of playing alongside Jordan Henderson is a step closer. Liverpool’s bumper deal with Nike – estimated to be worth £80 million a year – is missing one thing. A marquee signing*.
Not only does a hashtag already exist – #Mbappe2020 – but there are actually a few signs to suggest this isn’t as ridiculous as first thought:
- Mbappe has his own Nike collection
- Liverpool are indisputably the best team in the world right now. They have a stable manager and a young-ish team that could dominate for years
- Premier League giants are the only teams capable of meeting Mbappe’s astonishing €265m valuation (source: CIES Observatory)
Then again, he did have posters of Real Madrid on his wall growing up. That may be enough to burst this bubble…
*with apologies to Takumi Minamino
‘I thought it was apple juice’
Slightly uncomfortable viewing, but a definitely-not-high Paul Pogba delivered a bizarre soliloquy after waking from an ankle operation – the highlight coming when he mistook his own urine for apple juice.
IN THE CHANNELS
Love Island’s back! And we all know what that means – ex-Warm-Up stunner Adam Hurrey’s Twitter thread on the football pasts of reality TV’s newest bores:
Another player who remembers all too clearly those frantic moments is goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale. His life was transformed in just a few seconds, as he realised that he too had been hit. "I heard the sound of a machine gun," he says, "and at the very moment I wanted to move to hide, it was as if I was nailed to the seat. "That is when I saw myself - both my belly and my back were bleeding. That's when I began to panic. I said: 'I've been hit, help me, help me, I want to see my daughter, my son. I don't want to die here.'"
BBC Sport’s Jean Keating delivers a haunting account of the Togo national football team attack on its 10th anniversary.
The Danny Drinkwater Derby (DDD) sees Leicester City face Aston Villa in the first leg of the other League Cup semi-final.