Solskjaer previews Man Utd v Liverpool in Premier League
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going nowhere. That is the reality at Old Trafford whatever the outcome of today’s game against Liverpool. However much of a gulf is exposed by Manchester United’s bitter rivals, whatever the return from an upcoming set of Premier League fixtures which also include Tottenham, Manchester City and Chelsea before the end of next month, Ole will remain at the wheel.
He has signed a contract extension until 2024 and United want him to stay.
Solskjaer has done a good job in rebuilding the United culture and pointing the club in the right direction again but if they want to get the best out of their expensive squad and actually win something they will need a manager from the next shelf up.
That is this columnist’s view. But if you want a different one just choose from the wide selection available.
Everyone it seems has an opinion on Solskjaer’s future as Manchester United manager, everyone that is apart from Gary Neville.
As Neville has an opinion on virtually everything inside and outside of football his reticence on the issue of the day sticks out a mile.
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His admission this week that he could never call out Solskjaer because he was a friend exposed him as hopelessly compromised.
If he is unwilling to make an honest assessment on the subject then it calls into question his suitability for the job.
While the recently retired player is more in touch with the modern game and offer insight into players they know personally what use, ultimately, is a pundit who cannot say it how it is?
Loyalty is a commendable quality in a footballer. It is utterly counterproductive as a pundit.
At least Neville was up front enough to confess to this blind spot. Other pundits are just as biased but lack the self-awareness to realise it.
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This week Joe Cole was touting his old Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard for the Newcastle manager’s job because he was “a safe pair of hands”.
Lampard has two and a half seasons in management under his belt in which he was sacked by Chelsea and has never been involved in a relegation fight. In no way would he qualify as a safe pair of hands.
It was an opinion – credit to Cole for that – but a woefully skewed one. The old mates’ network, which the broadcasters indulge, particularly grates on days like today.
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No doubt Neville will be in one corner and Jamie Carragher the other for Sky’s coverage of the Manchester United vs Liverpool match.
They are both able broadcasters and particularly good at unpicking the tactical detail of a game. They were also both powerful voices against their former clubs when the Super League was threatened.
But could either put their hand on their heart and say they are able to come at this fixture without partiality today? They wouldn’t even pretend that was the case.
Viewers want to be informed by objective observers not refereeing a punditry points-scoring exercise.
It should be a rule of television that no ex-player – other than Roy Keane who hates everyone equally – should be employed to opine on a former club’s games. Not good news for Peter Crouch given his collection but he would survive.
Perhaps the rule might be relaxed for older pundits who are able, through the passage of time, to put more distance between themselves and their clubs.
Graeme Souness will say it how it is without fear or favour and Glenn Hoddle was happy enough to put his cultured boot into Spurs on Thursday after their Europa League defeat.
But even some from that generation are incapable of putting their playing attachments to one side on air. Mark Lawrenson, who has been around long enough to know better, referred on several occasions to Liverpool as “we” on the BBC Football Daily podcast this week. The first person plural might be fine on LFCTV but not on a national station.
Allegiances are what makes club football so addictive but these are paid professionals who should be required to put aside their other hats while they educate and entertain us.
Solskjaer rolls on safe in the knowledge that whether his erratic United side blow hot or cold, he can always count on the unwavering support of his mate Gary.
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