IF past experience points to anything, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will get a result against Liverpool — and there haven’t been many games when he’s needed one more.
Whenever the pressure has really been on, Ole always seems to have come up trumps and he’s going to have to do so again this afternoon.
There’s no doubt Solskjaer is a lovely guy but I don’t buy into this business that he is unsackable, however much he’s loved at Manchester United.
I’m not saying they’re about to get rid of him, because I don’t think they will, but I’m not having it that he’s bombproof because he’s a United legend either.
You could have said the same about Glenn Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles at Tottenham and it didn’t save them when results weren’t good enough.
Frank Lampard was as big a Chelsea legend as you’ll get and we all know what happened to him.
So there is no sentiment in football, believe me, and the pressure is on for Ole . . . and losing to Liverpool would make that a whole lot worse.
United aren’t going to win the league, no chance, and finishing in the top four isn’t enough any more.
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Those fans got used to being better than Liverpool for long spells, so simply a good performance today won’t do, either. They need to win, or not get beaten, at the very least.
You look at the United squad and there are top, top players throughout but they are certainly missing something. Even the manager admitted it last week at Leicester.
Then you get Paul Pogba coming out and saying things need to change and that puts even more pressure on Ole. That did him no favours at all.
I’ve had it in the past when players say something, but that’s usually when they’ve got the hump because they’re not in the team or whatever.
So what Pogba was thinking about I don’t know — but when you’re already under the cosh you really don’t need that.
Then again, at times you look at the touchline when United are playing and you do wonder, because it always seems very quiet over there.
And I’ve said before how strange it is to see Ole — he’s not the only manager, mind — going on to the pitch, shaking hands with everyone and clapping the crowd when they’ve got beaten.
If you’ve been smashed, you have the right hump, you want to get in that dressing room as quickly as possible and tell them exactly what you think.
I know Sir Alex Ferguson wouldn’t have been out there waving to everyone if his side had just lost. He’d be sitting there fuming, waiting for the players to get in.
It’s just another thing that’s so different nowadays, like when they all talk of projects and five-year plans. That’s rubbish — it’s a five-match plan and if you lose the sixth, you’re in trouble.
I know United had that great comeback in midweek but it was against a weakened Atalanta team and today it’s Liverpool, the team they must NOT lose to.
It’s at Old Trafford, the players will raise their game for sure, and of course they can get a result. But the best teams do it week in, week out and United aren’t at that level.
There’s no way they are winning the league and I can see City and Liverpool not only fighting it out for the title, but in Europe as well.
The thing is, you look at that Liverpool side and see a proper team, one that’s playing better than anyone right now.
Mo Salah is in the form of his life, you know that alongside him it will be Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino or Diogo Jota.
You’ve got Virgil van Dijk holding it all together in defence, the two full-backs don’t change, and then maybe boss Jurgen Klopp will make the odd tweak in midfield.
It’s always roughly the same, a proper team, every week. And then you look at the others and you’re never sure who’s going to play.
There just seems to be a real togetherness about Liverpool, it’s why they are going to be the team to beat — and unfortunately for Ole, this afternoon I can’t see it being United.
MOYES DOING A FINE JOB
YOU know what I said about Liverpool being a proper team?
Well, my old club West Ham aren’t too far behind them in that respect.
David Moyes has done a really good manager’s job there and there aren’t too many still saying that last season was a fluke.
They’re in very, very good form once again and there will be a terrific atmosphere at the London Stadium this afternoon when they play Tottenham.
I can’t see beyond a West Ham victory either, because David’s built a very solid Hammers team, with cover all over the pitch.
Michail Antonio will cause Tottenham problems, Declan Rice we know all about, and not many sides will go to Everton and win, like they did last week.
I’m delighted for David, and in my eyes there is absolutely no reason why they can’t do just as well as last season — maybe even better.
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STEVIE G A GOOD FIT
IT didn’t take long before Paulo Fonseca was the man in the frame for the Newcastle job.
But why does it always have to be a foreign manager?
There are plenty of good ones over here who would be ideal . . . the likes of Eddie Howe, Frank Lampard and even Chris Wilder, who I rate very highly.
For me, if I was Steven Gerrard, I’d look at giving it some serious consideration because I think he’s done as much as he can do at Rangers.
Remember, this is the Premier League we’re talking about, and Newcastle looks like a fantastic project going forward.
Although I’m still not at all certain he’d leave Ibrox, whatever I think.