Solskjaer should be done

It's not hard to see why Manchester United fans want Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to succeed. And during the Norwegian's tenure there has been a gradual improvement in the make-up and balance of both the first team and the squad at Old Trafford.
But it has also been clear for some time that Solskjaer is not of the level required to take United to where they want to be.
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That's not to say that he's a bad manager particularly. But he is not a coach even remotely on the level of Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola or Thomas Tuchel. And in the Premier League in 2021 that is the level of manager you need to have if you wish to compete for the very top honours.

'I don't want to be in Solskjaer's shoes now' - Klopp after Liverpool thrash Man Utd

The shambolic nature of the 5-0 loss to Liverpool was proof in itself that Solskjaer is not remotely on a par with Klopp and the best.
Yet as ever it was actually in his post-match comments that the United boss unintentionally revealed that he doesn't even grasp what the problem is.
The whole performance wasn't good enough, that's for sure. We have created openings, they have had chances, they have been clinical and we did not take our chances early on. It's mine [responsibility] - that's it. The coaching staff are brilliant and I choose the way we approach the game and today, we weren't clinical enough going forward.
It was a game where United's shape was brutally exposed, their pressing game was amateur at best, and their defensive organisation was shambolic. And if you can watch all of that and walk away thinking that the biggest issue was a lack of clinical finishing then it's one enormous red flag.
United should act and make the change. Whether they will or not is another matter.
And while they're at it, they should get Sir Alex away from the television cameras. It really doesn't help the club move forward.

Neville loses his way

This is not an easy time for Gary Neville. And it’s not an easy time for viewers of Gary Neville’s punditry either.
Neville took the rather unusual step last week of saying he will never call for Ole to be sacked because they are friends. Which is honest at least, but it does call into question what value he brings as a pundit if he’s not willing to even attempt objectivity.
And this weekend pushed Neville into a particularly tricky corner.
Dave Jones, Graeme Souness, Jamie Carragher and Jermain Defoe were all clearly in agreement in the Sky Sports studio – Manchester United’s loss was a fault of poor coaching.
Which isn’t ideal if you’re not willing to criticise the coach.
Neville did get drawn into a little bit of comment about Ole’s future, saying:
The reason the board will stay stable is because of what happened with Jose Mourinho, with Louis van Gaal. They won't bring in a hitman again to try and do a job for a couple of seasons.
It was a point he repeated many times, that the world-class manager approach has been tried and failed at United, so that is why they will stick with Solskjaer.
It’s an argument of sorts, but it’s one that barely holds up to even the mildest analysis. And when Souness is making you look bad as a pundit then it’s a big problem.
For Neville’s sake the quicker the Solskjaer era comes to an end the better, so he can get back to being the informative pundit that he usually is. Because right now the hole he’s dug for himself is good for nobody.

Scholes nails it

One former United star who isn’t intent on toeing the party line is Paul Scholes.
And a glance back at his comments last week reveal that he knew exactly what was coming at Old Trafford on Sunday.
“You don’t feel that was a win worth celebrating,” grins Jake Humphrey after watching Man Utd’s 3-2 comeback victory over Atalanta. Which sets Scholes off on an analysis of United’s shortcomings that proved remarkably prescient.
I looked at that game thinking about Liverpool on Sunday. United were all over the place, they were disjointed, they had the two midfielder players playing on their own. Now if you do that against Liverpool, at half-time it’ll be three or four nil. You’ll be out of the game. Will he play that way on Sunday against Liverpool? Imagine Jurgen Klopp at home watching that game. He’ll be rubbing his hands together.
I’m not sure Scholes has ever been more right than that during his punditry career. He might not bring energy, or enthusiasm. But he certainly brought insight this week.

Solskjaer signs autographs after 5-0 Liverpool humiliation

IN OTHER NEWS

Brilliant Bellingham at it again

Jude Bellingham is a remarkable young footballer. It’s easy to forget that the midfielder from Stourbridge is still just 18-years-old, given that he’s already had a breakthrough season at Birmingham, moved to Borussia Dortmund, torn it up in the Champions League for a season, and represented England at a major tournament.
But every now and again he does something so utterly spectacular that you just have to remind yourself that he’s still a teenager. Still eight years younger than Jack Grealish.
This weekend’s Bundesliga fixture against Arminia Bielefeld provided one of those moments.
What a player Bellingham is. Sensational.

RETRO CORNER

If you suffered a spot of déjà vu watching Liverpool’s fifth goal against Manchester United then it’s understandable. For Jordan Henderson’s assist for Mo Salah was an almost identical goal to one Liverpool scored back in 2014.
It was Steven Gerrard on that occasion, slicing open the Fulham defence with a curved through-ball that send Daniel Sturridge in on goal.
Check it out.
And just for reference. Here’s the carbon copy that Liverpool produced on Sunday.

HAT-TIP

There’s no shortage of Manchester United coverage today, but Eurosport’s own Graham Ruthven has honed in Jurgen Klopp specifically, and how the Liverpool boss has changed the dynamic of English football’s biggest rivalry.
Tactically, Liverpool’s structure harnesses their best players in a way Manchester United’s does not, but the manner in which Klopp has flipped the script between the two rivals over the last six years cannot be plotted on a chalkboard. Instead, Klopp has achieved a cultural revolution. It’s in the way Liverpool now expect to leave Old Trafford with all three points. In the way his players relentlessly press from the front and trust one another to perform their duties and in the way there is a direct relationship between those on the pitch and those in the stands. Klopp can take credit for all of this.
You can read the full article here.

COMING UP

Monday’s fixture list is unusually light on quality, with many of Europe’s top leagues taking the night off. But there’s a peach of a fixture over in Turkey if you’re interested, with Besiktas taking on Galatasaray.
An as-yet-unconfirmed writer will be here with tomorrow's Warm-Up and coverage of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s departure from Old Trafford by mutual consent.
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