FOR the self-proclaimed biggest club in the world, Manchester United seem curiously happy to settle for second best.
Actually, that’s not true. Sixth best now appears good enough for a board of directors whose indecision is final.
So, how low do they have to go before they pull the trigger on their manager for just the fifth time in 35 years?
Even Ole Gunnar Solskjaer probably can’t believe he’s still in a job after steering his team into more ditches than Boris Johnson in recent weeks.
The underachieving boss is back from a refreshing holiday in Norway and apparently has no intention of quitting.
And why would anyone walk away from a £180,000-a-week contract which still has another 2½ years to run?
Maybe it’s the prospect of coughing up millions in compensation which is deterring the owners from wielding the axe.
But it will cost them a lot more than that if United fail to qualify for the Champions League.
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And the way things are going, that’s a very strong possibility.
Perhaps they’re hoping that Solskjaer can still turn things around despite all the evidence to the contrary.
After all, it took Sir Alex Ferguson almost four years before he cracked it at United and Ole is only just approaching his third anniversary.
But no one at Old Trafford can seriously believe that is going to happen because this team has turned more corners than the Hampton Court maze, yet always managed to run slap bang into another dead end.
In fact, it looks as though they have already written this season off with 27 Premier League games remaining.
What other conclusion can be drawn from the failure to take the kind of decisive action which transformed Chelsea when they were in a similar situation at the beginning of the year?
Because no one at United wants to be known as the man who killed Bambi, a series of elite managers have been allowed to slip through their fingers over the past five years.
Now they are in danger of missing out on another as the Football Association prepares to hand a new contract to Gareth Southgate.
The England boss might not be everyone’s idea of a big-time signing.
But how many other current coaches in world football have taken a team to the World Cup semi-finals and a European Championship final and worked harmoniously with a superstar squad?
Now I have no idea if Southgate has any desire to return to the cut-throat world of club management and suspect he is perfectly happy where he is.
But wouldn’t it make sense for United to sound him out before he commits himself to a new deal which will take him out of commission until 2024?
All the noises coming out of Old Trafford at the moment suggest that Zinedine Zidane remains their top target, in spite of his obvious reluctance to move to England.
Brendan Rodgers is apparently up for it after bashing his head on the glass ceiling once too often at Leicester.
But it will cost an absolute fortune to get him out of the King Power Stadium and his Liverpool connections won’t exactly impress the Stretford End.
After that it seems United hope Zidane will take over at Paris Saint-Germain in the summer and then they can snap up Mauricio Pochettino, the coach who came second in a one-horse race last season.
And as cunning plans go, that one is straight out of the Baldrick playbook.
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