Mediawatch special: None of this is Solskjaer’s fault

Date published: Thursday 23rd January 2020 11:36

Ole’s staying at the wheel…
Manchester United have lost three of their last four Premier League games. Points-wise, this is their worst ever tally at this stage of a Premier League season.

But Manchester United definitely should stick with a manager that literally no other Premier League club would employ. Not even Norwich.

And why should they stick with him? Because he’s a nice bloke and he loves the club and everything. All of which sound like sensible reasons for one of the world’s richest football clubs to continue his employment.

We have now reached the bizarre juncture where his ex-Manchester United teammate Paul Scholes is trying to spin embarrassing defeat at home to Burnley as a positive on Premier League Productions:

“That performance tonight might do him a favour in the transfer market. It might spur the club on to spend that few extra million on the players they’re looking at like Bruno Fernandes.

“It might get done tomorrow because of this. He needs more bodies in the building. He’s got some big injuries so he needs help.”

Read that again slowly. His theory is that deservedly losing 2-0 at home to Burnley might turn out to be A Good Thing for the current Manchester United manager.

Because DNA. Because he likes him. A reminder – should it be required – that this is what Scholes said last January:

“The last manager showed lack of respect and was an embarrassment to the club, which is something Ole would never do.

“He has realised that he’s there to serve what’s probably the world’s greatest football club, and he does it with a smile on his face.

“Ole is a kind man. He always smiles. He will get the best out of the players. He causes them to feel three meters high. It’s what Sir Alex did.”

He’s “a kind man” and “he always smiles”. What more could any club want from a manager? Decent football? Nah. Victories? No way. Trophies? F*** off, we want a bloody good chap who knows he is incredibly lucky to be the manager of Manchester United. And he really is incredibly lucky to be the manager of Manchester United.

“He could lose the next 20 games, and he will still be loved.”

Well he seems to be hell-bent on testing that theory.

We move on from Scholes and arrive at another Solskjaer ex-teammate in Phil Neville. You will be utterly shocked to learn that he appeared on Match of the Day and – wait for it – asked for the manager to be given more time.

“I think they’ve got to stick with him.”

Of course you do.

“There’s bits I see from them that I think, ‘They’re heading in the right direction’. The youth side, the energy around the place.

“It’s just that lack of quality. United are where they are at this moment in time and people have got to accept it.”

“People have got to accept it”? We have moved into a place of pure parody now. Why should they accept it? And at what point does the manager take any blame at all? The answer to that question – as long as the manager is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and he smiles a lot – appears to be ‘never’.


A Pog’s life
Now let’s talk about Jason McAteer because ‘McAteer’ is trending on Twitter. And that could only mean one of two things: Death or stupidity.

Thankfully for the McAteer family, it’s the latter. For the former Liverpool man has been on BeIN Sports talking about the real problem at Manchester United.

The owners? Ed Woodward? The suits? That nice, smiley bloke Ole Gunnar Solskjaer?

No. The real problem is a player or was not on the pitch against Burnley. A player who is injured. A player who won four consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus. A player who won the actual World Cup with France. It’s all his fault.

“I don’t get Paul Pogba, he doesn’t fit into Manchester United.

“Sir Alex Ferguson got rid of him in the first place, there’s a reason why he did. But they bring him back.

“Is it commercial? Did they bring him back commercially because to me he just upsets the dressing room.”

To you – ex-footballer Jason McAteer – Paul Pogba “upsets” a place you have literally never been. It’s not the kind of thing you really should have an opinion about.

“He’s got too much influence on the younger players, that’s not what you want – you want James Milner and Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana, those players in the dressing room.”

But they’re in a different dressing room and Liverpool are unlikely to allow them into another dressing room just to do some pointing and shouting. So do Manchester United just have to find their own older Englishmen? Should they sign Gareth Barry? Lee Cattermole? F*** it, bring back Wayne Rooney.

“You need players inside the dressing room who do the right things, Manchester United don’t have that.”

Hmmm. That might rule out Rooney. But isn’t it nice that McAteer has pinpointed the real problem with Manchester United. Not a lack of high-quality signings. Not over-emphasis on commercial matters (except when they decided to sign one of the best players in the world). Not an out-of-his-depth manager, But a lack of older Englishmen “who do the right things”.


Question of the day
Does anybody want to guess in which paragraph of Neil Custis’ Sun report from Old Trafford he finally mentions the name of the manager in charge of this third defeat in four Premier League games?

Answer: 27th. Yes, the 27th bloody paragraph.

Because of course it’s not his fault. He is just an innocent, smiling bystander.

Mediawatch literally laughed out loud at this intro:

‘ED WOODWARD sat this one out as he tried to get some transfer business over the line.

‘Probably just as well as United’s angry fans once again turned on the executive vice-chairman and the owning Glazer family.

‘The underperforming players, however, appear to get off scot-free.

‘When will people decide that it could actually be their fault?’

To which Mediawatch cannot help but reply: ‘When will people decide that it could actually be the manager’s fault?’

If you are asking ‘why cannot they defend simple set-pieces?’, you have a) forgotten how to write English and b) forgotten that players actually need coaching how to defend set-pieces.

And who is the coach? That fella you neglected to mention until the 27th paragraph.


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