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United need to call time on Ole reign

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

REUTERS

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

The midweek Champions League defeat in Turkey could be, or at least should be, the end for this particular group of Manchester United players.

And it may also have signalled the end for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager there, because I just can't see him changing things in a way that would lead to improvement.

The awful state of United right now is not all down to the manager and I do have some sympathy for him, but it's only a matter of time before he is sacked. They can do it now or do it in six months' time, but then it's just six months wasted. He will be sacked at some stage, so they should make the decision now, move on and try to sort it out. Because United, with this manager and this group of players, are going nowhere.

I can't pretend to like Manchester United, given my background in club football, but I do like the Premier League to be strong, and a strong Manchester United makes the league overall stronger. However, they are just stuck, as a club. When they look to have turned a corner, they fail again, they are too inconsistent as a club and as a team.

There has been a lot of goodwill for the manager, much of it from former United players in the media, but the sad reality is that he hasn't changed the team in any way, he hasn't improved them in any way.

I can't see the benefit in keeping Solskjaer on as manager. He seems to have no authority over the team or his players, and that was summed up by the first goal in Turkey in midweek. If you have instructed the players what to do, and they respect you, they'll be in the right positions and will stay there until the danger has passed. But that goal suggests to me that the United players now think they can do whatever they want. They don't respect what they have been told.

As a defender, I was horrified by the first goal Basaksehir scored against United on Wednesday night - the fact that not a single United player was back covering. There is fault all over the place: they had put the big men up, but they didn't put the ball into the box, they just passed it and passed it until they lost possession.

I can understand what Nemanja Matic was thinking when he pushed on, he thought he could help out when United had the ball, give them another option.

But the fact that they didn't have two men back to cover was just ridiculous, unforgivable really. To me, it showed a complete lack of organisation and discipline.

In my playing career, you would only ever see 10 players going forward if you were 1-0 down and it was the last minute. You don't do that 15 minutes into an away game in the Champions League when it's 0-0.

Those players would have been told before the game what to do and where to be at set pieces: who was to attack the ball, who was at the back post, who was to attack the 'keeper. But always, always, you'd have two players kept back as cover. Every training session I had just before a big game, you were given those instructions, the coaches told you who was to stay back, so I am certain that the United players were told and it was a lack of discipline that saw them not do it. They are not listening to their manager.

I am sure two United players were instructed to stay back - I don't know for certain but I'd guess it was Matic and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. So why did they feel the need to get involved in the build-up play? They pulled themselves out of position and I would guess than Demba Ba just could not believe his luck when found himself all on his own with the ball at his feet.

The players have let Solskjaer down but he's made errors too: he hasn't got the best out of Paul Pogba, he hasn't used Donny van de Beek, Bruno Fernandes is going backwards and it's a club where everyone is not pulling in the same direction. There's no leadership on the pitch. Solskjaer has to take a portion of the blame for where they are, although he's not the first manager to fail with this group of players.

It's a similar group to the one Jose Mourinho had. People laughed when Jose said that finishing second and winning the Europa League at United was one of his biggest achievements, but look at it now and it seems a miracle that they finished second with this squad.

United in 2020 are a massive downgrade on what Manchester United used to be and it's clearly not good enough. We can see that from the results. That squad is nowhere near good enough to challenge for the Premier League, you could list their best players from one down to 14 and there isn't a single one there who is good enough. Whether that's down to ability, mentality, or both, I don't know but they are miles behind the likes of Liverpool.

United's problem is that they sign names: they signed Fernandes, they signed Pobga. Liverpool go out and sign footballers, they signed James Milner and Jordan Henderson, who are 100 per cent footballers. They are not interested in anything else other than being a professional footballer, they give maximum effort in every game.

What United have are spectacular players who will deliver a spectacular result every now and again, like beating PSG, but they don't have that player who can be a nucleus for the team - someone who can be an engine in midfield, someone who offers security, who they can rely on all the time. They have players who can turn it on … when they are interested.

If they had any pride in their jobs as players, Istanbul this week should have been a win, but because it's not a glamour game like PSG, the players didn't up, they didn't feel they had to show up because it was 'only' Istanbul, and once you adopt that attitude, it's over.

Every time you think that united have turned a corner, they fail again, and that must be a massive frustration to their supporters.

If United do hold on to Solskjaer for a few months they will get a couple of victories, like they did against PSG last season, but they'll have a lot of defeats as well. They will always have that up-and-down routine and will never be challenging for titles.


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