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Iceman

Someone's having a real laugh - sperm of gollum to Utd.

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I don't know how he's still in a job. Pogba is useless, they don't know how to use their attackers and that defence is diabolical. Mad how bad they have been since Ferguson retired. Him recommending Moyes properly took them back. They also should never have sacked Van Gaal. Can't see them finishing top 4 at all this year. Pochettino will be there by January I expect but by then they will be well behind. I hardly even think about them these days. 

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We really need them to beat the blues next weekend or the pressure could become untenable for Ole. It would have the added bonus of piling on the misery for Everton. A draw might be enough but ole needs a couple of wins.

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He's surely safe for now, based on his European record? Fair enough he's faced two sides that couldn't suit his preferred style more, but he's won away at last year's CL finalists and hammered one of last year's CL semi-finalists. Hopefully those two results make it more of a curate's egg of a start than a plain old shite one.

 

He must stay. He has to.

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5 minutes ago, Manny said:

He's surely safe for now, based on his European record? Fair enough he's faced two sides that couldn't suit his preferred style more, but he's won away at last year's CL finalists and hammered one of last year's CL semi-finalists. Hopefully those two results make it more of a curate's egg of a start than a plain old shite one.

 

He must stay. He has to.

Amen.

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10 minutes ago, Manny said:

He's surely safe for now, based on his European record? Fair enough he's faced two sides that couldn't suit his preferred style more, but he's won away at last year's CL finalists and hammered one of last year's CL semi-finalists. Hopefully those two results make it more of a curate's egg of a start than a plain old shite one.

 

He must stay. He has to.

You’d hope so and thankfully the BBC seem to be laying the blame at Pogbas feet.

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1 hour ago, JagSquared said:

You’d hope so and thankfully the BBC seem to be laying the blame at Pogbas feet.

To be fair to Olè, he does have some rotten apples within his team and unfortunately they are highly paid so he must play them.

 

Then you have to take into account the fact that the club haven't backed him for the players he wants to sign and you can see why they have struggled. 

 

This is Woodward and the Glazers fault, they pick the team they set the tactics, I think its time we all unite in football against them. Get a proper green and gold scarf protest going. Its in everyone's best interest for this to happen.

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Any chance someone could shut Troy Deeney up. He’s trending all over Twitter criticising the Pixie’s management. Shut up, Troy. Shut up.

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1 minute ago, JagSquared said:

Giggs would be my pick for the next manager but that’s too much to ask for considering what we’ve even spoilt with already.

Steve Bruce. 

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3 minutes ago, JagSquared said:

Giggs would be my pick for the next manager but that’s too much to ask for considering what we’ve even spoilt with already.

Roy Keane. It would be glorious.

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Be fucking incredible if they made another cock up with their choice of manager. I think they'll be more inclined to go for a Nagelsman, Allegri and yes, even Pochettino.

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22 minutes ago, JagSquared said:

To Steady the ship or sink it with that iceberg of a head of his?

Tp plug Old Trafford 

22 minutes ago, Mark M said:

Roy Keane. It would be glorious.

Nah he would kick fuck out of all of them and sell them. 

17 minutes ago, dockers_strike said:

Be fucking incredible if they made another cock up with their choice of manager. I think they'll be more inclined to go for a Nagelsman, Allegri and yes, even Pochettino.

I hope not. 

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28 minutes ago, JagSquared said:

Giggs would be my pick for the next manager but that’s too much to ask for considering what we’ve even spoilt with already.

Suddenly Scholes deciding to sack the nominal manager at Salford in order to get some experience of the match day routine makes more sense...

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Simeone's the only manager I wouldn't like to see them get, though even he'd take a couple of years to get them to a decent level.

 

Pochettino's standing as some kind of surefire guarantee of success shows the dearth of real options out there. Good manager and all that, but he's won absolutely nothing anywhere. 

 

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I see a deluded manc has been given a platform by the daily wail to make a case that solskjaer's record over his first 100 games is at least on a par if not better than Jurgen's first 100 with Liverpool.

 

They roll out stats to show the win loss draw ratio, PPG average, goals for and against etc but they never take into account the different quality of players each manager had not the fact solskjaer took over a team that had finished 2nd the previous season.

 

I love deluded mancs as they give me a good chuckle on a dark and dismal day, especially when Ive got to take the old girl down the local Asda and see if there's any bogroll left to make the new bogroll sandwich delicacy everyone seems to be craving!

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 Decent article about Crackle; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was two games and two emphatic wins into life as Manchester United’s caretaker manager when there was a knock on his door. It was the executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who, like everyone else, remarked on the way the mood around the training ground had been transformed from the miserable final months of Jose Mourinho’s tenure.

They reflected on the victories over Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town and the way different players had responded on the training pitch and around the place. Paul Pogba had a spring in his step and a smile on his face once more. So did Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and others.

Conversation turned to the January 2019 transfer window, which was about to open, when Solskjaer produced a document that showed he was already thinking more long term than that. It contained a lengthy list of transfer targets, as well as academy graduates such as Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood, and a suggestion of how the team may have evolved by the 2021-22 season. Solskjaer then mentioned how, beyond the immediate need to improve results, there was a need to restore the values, culture and identity that had been lost.

Every word and message resonated with Woodward, who, having initially been awe-struck by both Louis van Gaal and Mourinho after appointing both men, accepted that something had gone awry in the five-and-half years that had passed since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013. As the results got better and better over the next few months — reaching an improbable peak with that dramatic and slightly confounding 3-1 victory away to Paris Saint-Germain, their 14th win in just 17 games under Solskjaer — the man for the short term became, in the eyes of Woodward and many others, the man for the long-term rebuilding job at Old Trafford.

On Sunday evening Solskjaer reached 100 games in charge of United. It was a milestone he approached in high spirits after impressive wins away to Newcastle (4-1) and PSG (2-1) and at home to RB Leipzig (5-0) over the previous fortnight. Yes, the memories of that crushing 6-1 defeat at home to Mourinho’s Tottenham endured, but that was their only loss in eight matches in all competitions since the opening day of the campaign. In the second half against Leipzig, everything seemed to click into place. Things were looking up again.

And then, just when there was talk of having turned a corner, they produced a wretched performance at home to Arsenal. The midfield diamond formation that seemed like a panacea against Leipzig? It was a disaster four days later. Pogba, who performed so well against Leipzig, was so abject against Arsenal that the notion of building a midfield around him seemed risible once more. Diamonds, it turns out, are not forever. Back to the drawing board yet again.

The constant debate about Solskjaer — whether he is hopelessly out of his depth, whether he is performing admirably under difficult circumstances, whether anyone else would do much better working with these players and this ownership regime — fluctuates as wildly as United’s performance level. It is unhelpful and, in truth, probably unnecessary because both his virtues and his limitations appear pretty clear to see.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United manager
(Photo: Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Of his first 100 games, United have won 55, drawn 21 and lost 24. That record is nothing to write home about, particularly when you consider that by far their best run of results came before he had been appointed on a full-time basis. He has won 32 of his 65 Premier League matches to date and 22 out of 52 since being appointed permanently. If we are talking about trajectory, it was skyward for those three months as caretaker manager and has been fairly underwhelming for the most part ever since.

They did recover from a very slow start to finish third in the Premier League last season, though. They reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and the Europa League. They have beaten Chelsea four times, Manchester City three times and PSG twice and, if the early doubts about his suitability were all about whether he had the tactical sophistication to prepare a team for high-stakes games in the Premier League and Champions League, he can claim to have come up with some pretty impressive answers. The victory away to PSG last month was a classic example of his team’s strengths when they are on their game: a compact, well-organised defence, a hard-working midfield and a forward line attack with the speed and cutting edge to hurt the opposition.

Some laughed at Van Gaal when, in those thrilling early stages of life under Solskjaer, the former United manager said that “the coach after me (Mourinho) changed to park-the-bus tactics and played on the counter. Now there is another coach (Solskjaer) who parks the bus and plays on the counter.” But that is indeed what they have proved to be good at under Solskjaer. If the expectation after those first few months was that they would evolve into a better all-round team, consistently capable of dominating opponents with a more attack-minded approach, it has only happened on a sporadic basis.

That has been the great contradiction of Solskjaer’s tenure to date. When a manager uses words like philosophy, culture and identity so often, while referring to the club’s history and heritage at almost every press conference, you expect their playing style to reflect that. There have been occasions when it has been tempting to believe it, but this is a team which, after 100 games, still lacks a recognised style or identity, which is not terribly surprising when the club’s football vision — and this is more of a reflection on those above Solskjaer — still appears largely notional.

You wonder which names figured in the long-term plan that Solskjaer showed Woodward in the final days of 2018. David de Gea and Pogba, certainly, and probably Martial as well as Rashford. But it is fair to assume that the masterplan would not have involved the 3-5-2 formation that worked so well against PSG or the midfield diamond which, in the space of two matches against Leipzig and Arsenal, brought two performances that were so far apart in just about every respect.

It is worth going back to something Solskjaer said upon picking up the reins in December 2018. “My philosophy is that you’ve got to have width,” he said, adding that, in a squad which lacked conventional wingers, he would initially be looking to the full-backs to provide it. “For me, it’s important in modern football to get the full-backs flying on,” he said.

There was a further elaboration in an interview with UEFA’s website three months later. “Pace and power, Man United, that’s what we are,” he said. “When you have players, like we have, with pace — Paul (Pogba), Anthony (Martial), Alexis (Sanchez), Romelu (Lukaku), Marcus (Rashford) — that’s how we played with Andy (Cole) and Yorkie (Dwight Yorke) with Giggsy (Ryan Giggs) and Becks (David Beckham) down the sides. We attacked quickly and that’s my philosophy as well.”

United have indeed been at their best under Solskjaer when attacking at speed, using the pace of Rashford and Martial. But they are still a team who lack the ability to stretch opposition defences and to penetrate in wide areas. They began the season with Daniel James on the right wing and Rashford on the left in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Crystal Palace; away to Brighton and on that terrible day at home to Tottenham it was the same system with Greenwood and Rashford wide; James and, to spectacular effect, Juan Mata came in from the cold for the 4-1 win at Newcastle; then, away to PSG, came a successful switch to 5-3-2 with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles as wing-backs; then back to 4-2-3-1 for a sterile draw with Chelsea, with Mata and James wide with Rashford leading the line; and then to the diamond formation, with no winger in sight, against Leipzig (“Eureka!”) and Arsenal (“oh shit!”).

At this point you have to reflect how severely Solskjaer has been let down by United when it has come to recruitment — and how alarming it is that, in the face of so much evidence to the contrary, Woodward and the rest of the club’s hierarchy remain convinced that their recent work in the transfer market has been impressive. This time last year their plans revolved around signing Erling Haaland from Red Bull Salzburg, but Borussia Dortmund beat them to it, leaving United to sign Odion Ighalo on loan in January and Edinson Cavani on a free transfer just before the transfer window closed last month. Going into this summer, they were desperate to address a long-standing weakness on the right wing by signing Jadon Sancho; having misread the market once more, they ended up doing deals for Facundo Pellistri and the prodigiously gifted Amad Diallo on deadline day. To the creative talents of Pogba and Fernandes, they have added Donny van de Beek without, it still seems, a clear idea of what shape their midfield should take.

Donny van de Beek Manchester United midfielder
Van de Beek has been bought at great expense but there appears to be no clear plan of how their midfield will take shape (Photo: Phil Noble/PA Images via Getty Images)

And so Solskjaer finds his imagination increasingly stretched as he wrestles in search of a winning formula. He thought he had found it towards the end of last season, with Pogba and Nemanja Matic at the base of midfield, leaving Greenwood, Fernandes and Rashford to operate in support of Martial, but that run of impressive wins immediately after the restart (3-0 over Sheffield United, Brighton and Villa, 5-2 over Bournemouth) was not sustained. Scott McTominay, Fred, Mata and others have come in, played well for a game or two, but been unable to sustain it and then been dropped again. Pogba’s disappointing and downright poor performances increasingly outnumber those where he does his immense talent justice. Van de Beek, yet to start a Premier League game, looks suitably baffled by the weirdness of it all.

On Sunday, 1-0 down at home to Arsenal, Solskjaer, who says his football philosophy is about width and pace, ended up with Rashford and Cavani up front and with Matic, McTominay, Pogba and Van de Beek forming the narrowest midfield quarter imaginable. The width, such as it was, came from Wan-Bissaka and Shaw, who, as Gary Neville diplomatically put it on Sky Sports, “are not the best attacking full-backs in the world. So you’re thinking to yourself, ‘You’re playing a diamond and your width is coming from two players who don’t really play that position well in the sort of high, wide, right and left position’. So it’s all looking a little bit scruffy at this moment. Towards the end I’m not even sure what system they were playing. There were players everywhere. It ended up being a mess.”

And that is a former team-mate and avowed Solskjaer sympathiser talking. Roy Keane, the former United captain, took a less technical, more visceral approach to the discussion. “You’re expected to roll your sleeves up, that’s what characters at Man United are all about — like Nobby Stiles, heart of a lion,” Keane said. “I don’t see it out there. I don’t see men out there. I don’t see guys I want to be in the trenches with, guys you trust. You’re going to trust those players out there? God help us.”

Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta’s former Everton team-mate, disagreed with Keane, suggesting that the difference between Arsenal on United on Sunday was not about “character” but about having a manager who had shown leadership in imposing a certain style of play. Keane kept trying to reduce the argument to the fact that Arsenal had lost three games so far this season, but Cahill persisted, saying: “They’ve lost a few games but they know why they’ve lost. They finish the game and they’re learning, they’re progressing.” The subtext was that this sense of process and progression is not there with United.

So there you had three ex-professionals offering three very different takes on proceedings: Cahill talking about the struggle to implement a wider philosophy, Neville talking about the micro-issues of square pegs in round holes and Keane (of course) talking about the lack of character. It makes for an interesting debate, but isn’t the obvious conclusion here that all three things apply? That this is a talented but unbalanced squad with a shortage of strong, reliable characters, all of which reflects the lack of any clear football vision (which, if we are going to take this further, as we have on previous occasions, reflects above all on the priorities of the club’s ownership).

Solskjaer’s appointment was designed to address all of those issues: re-establishing a traditional United identity in terms of vision, playing style and application among a group of players who, as Keane put it after the 6-1 defeat by Tottenham, “threw the previous manager (Mourinho) under the bus (and) will do exactly the same to Ole.”

Maybe this is a good time to point out that Mourinho signed a new contract on the eve of his 100th game in charge. After 100 games, in January 2018, his record was 62 wins, 23 draws and 15 defeats. At that time, United were second in the Premier League, well adrift of Manchester City, having failed to sustain the form that they showed in the first few months of that campaign, but they had still won 25 out of 36 matches in all competitions. There was not much to justify offering him a new contract at that point, other than the tenuous threat of leaving for PSG, but the overall trajectory was positive enough.

And then, as happens so often when Mourinho signs a new contract, things started to unravel. They won 22 matches out of 44 over the remainder of his tenure and just six of his final 18. As well as the new deal for Mourinho, that 100th game was preceded by the signing of Sanchez from Arsenal, which compounded a growing sense of disharmony in the dressing room and dysfunction on the pitch. As for Van Gaal, he won 52 of his first 100 games and was sacked three games later, despite signing off by winning the FA Cup.

To have reached the same milestone represents an achievement of sorts for Solskjaer; plenty of us imagined he would struggle to last that long, particularly once Mauricio Pochettino and Massimiliano Allegri became available. There are certain areas where he can claim to be succeeding — delivering Champions League qualification last season, individual improvement of players such as Martial and Rashford, the more stable, harmonious mood around the club — and others where he is falling short. Even in finishing third in the Premier League last season, they ended up as close, in points terms, to relegated Bournemouth as they did to Liverpool. Right now, even though the overall pace in the Premier League, their total of six points leave them as close to bottom-of-the-table Burnley as it does fifth-placed Wolves.

The big question — the one that really matters — is whether they are progressing, moving in the right direction, offering the type of encouragement that makes United’s supporters optimistic that the good times are just around the corner. The victories over Newcastle, PSG and Leipzig offered that hope, but it took just one more setback to bring the old anxieties and uncertainties to the surface once more. “We kept talking after the Spurs game about whether they’d turned a corner,” Keane said. “It’s the longest corner ever.”

If anything, that seems to reflect the wider malaise under an ownership that never stopped to make any clear plans for life after Ferguson and still, seven years on, seems content to go along with Woodward’s insistence that they have the right manager, the right recruitment set-up and of course the right man running the club on a day-to-day basis.

After 100 matches in charge and around £270 million spent in the transfer market, Solskjaer would certainly have expected to be a lot closer to finding a solution. And he should be. As has been the case for a long time now, the issues at Old Trafford go far beyond the man in the dugout and the players and system he might choose on any given day. It is why, if you take a step back, away from the need to judge every match in isolation, you see the same issues arising again and again under different managers.

That state of dysfunction, from boardroom to dressing room, is arguably what led them to turn to Solskjaer first in desperation, in December 2018, and then, three months later, in the giddy belief that they had found their dream ticket. None of them dared to imagine that the magic wand effect might already have begun to wear off and that the thrilling quest to rediscover Manchester United’s lost identity was about to become a long, dispiriting trudge once more.

(Top photo: Paul Ellis/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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Despite all the hyperbole they lost to a soft pen against Arsenal . Not hard to imagine a scenario where they could have squeaked a victory despite being second best in a forgettable match. Then the talk would have been about character and winning ugly. They are oscillating between abject losers and improvers dependent on their last result in most peoples eyes. The truth as always is somewhere in-between and whether OGS gets the bullet or not I don't really care. Every defeat they suffer cheers me up . They will be back at some point so lets enjoy the moment. 

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