Sunday, 8 December 2019

Reflections on the 179th Manchester derby

How can you even begin to describe that? No words can do it justice. It was one of the most magical memories this wonderful, this balmy, this upside down football club of ours
has given me. As I write this when the dust has settled 24 hours on from the final whistle, I'm still in a state of shock and euphoria.

Manchester United were faced with a task akin to climbing Everest without oxygen and with slippers on, attempting to derail Pep Guardiola's City slickers - two time defending league champs - in their own backyard. Although (whisper it), City did not appear to be quite the all conquering juggernaut of the last two seasons, they should still comfortably have had far too much for the worst United side I've seen in my 24 years as a fan. After all, this was a side boasting the metronomic talents of Messrs de Bruyne, Sterling, David Silva and Sergio Aguero's far from incompetent deputy Gabriel Jesus with one of the best bosses in the business. 
We had made our worst start to a league season ever, forced to watch Liverpool receding into the distance and marching to the title whilst lurching from one shitshow to another under a club legend, a man we adore but one whom had started to look like a rabbit in the proverbial headlights. Spurs and Mourinho were deservedly put to the sword in midweek in United's best performance for some time, but this would be a different kettle of fish entirely. We had to make sure it wasn't merely a flash in the pan, a metaphorical two fingers up to former manager Mourinho. 

Even the feeling that this United side saves itself for the biggest of occasions - our finest wins have come against the top opponents - did not prevent the numbing sense that the inevitable was about to happen. Nor did the fact that United are at their most dangerous when trapped in a corner, backs firmly jammed up against a wall. Just ask Jose Mourinho about that. As the Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto once famously said: "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." That may have been used regarding the out of nowhere attack on Pearl Harbour but, 78 years on, its very apt for this stranger than fiction 2019/20 Man Utd vintage. 
Both of those have been proved true, but even so, it would a huge leap of the imagination to predict anything other than a win for the home side at a venue where City had only lost once in the league in 610 days. You always get freak results in any league, so even the fact that Wolves had come to the Etihad and taken the point home with them did little to raise expectations. 

Until the match got underway, that is. In the first half an hour, City simply did not know what had hit them. United started like an express train and steamed forward with pace and panache at every opportunity. We came at them, and kept coming like men possessed. Dan James, Rashford and Jesse Lingard all could have put United out of sight, before a Rashford penalty - awarded by VAR - signals a small fist pump from yours truly. 

1-0, a deserved lead and a good start but still a long way to go. City will fight back, and to paraphrase a certain commentator in 1999, they always score.. 
Sure enough, the game's second goal is not long in coming, but gloriously, unexpectedly, it's United who strike again. Absolute scenes and dreamland for the Reds as Anthony Martial spins and fires in a finish at the near post. Ederson should save it, but no one cares but a jot. 2-0 and surely the best half an hour by a visiting team here for many a year. Still though, we can't let up, we have to stay solid, stay organised and keep working. 

A penalty shout - unluckily so - goes begging for Guardiola's men. Frustrations are mounting - is this Manchester United's moment? Maybe, just maybe, it will be our day. Against any other team in the world, I'd be confident but this is the Etihad. Manchester City away. A 2-0 lead is like the game is goalless. I'd have taken a draw before the game, but this 45 minutes will feel like 45 hours now.

The second half is a siege. A tide of sky blue against a red wall. At times, it's a one man wall. A rock solid wall of brick, mortar and concrete by the name of Aaron Wan - Bissaka. On his Manchester derby debut, the virgin of this fixture is everywhere. He blocked, tackled, intercepted, headed, and thumped clear everything that came his way. Raheem Sterling never got a sniff. One of the best players in world football was forced to the fringes and made a peripheral figure by a man who makes tackles like they're going out of fashion. 
 Victor Lindelof, at times much maligned, throws his body on the line and looks like he'd rather die than concede a goal. Reading the game superbly, the Swede was at the heart of United's immense, heroic, Herculean defensive efforts - throwing himself at everything, heading, clearing and reading the game superbly. The Iceman was the epitome of his side's collective performance, channelling peak Nemanja Vidic. His block to deny De Bruyne was crucial, if not a match winner. 

Manchester United were 2-0 up after 64 minutes when De Bruyne's shot was destined for the back of the Red Devils' net, with plenty still on the clock. The Swede produced the intervention of the match, stretching and straining every sinew of his being to deflect the ball away to safety. 
 To a man and from front to back, every single United player had the game of his life. We were superb, immense, heroic and just about every other adjective I can think of. Fred morphed into Roy Keane, following up his best game in Red against Tottenham with an even better one here. McSauce, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial.. all of them put a shift in, a shift that cut Guardiola's side to ribbons and at times left them looking clueless and chasing shadows. Lingard was quietly impressive and Harry Maguire held the defence together in a calm and understated fashion. We attacked like kings, worked like troopers and defended like lions. 

Even when City finally score, it came from a mistake and a set-piece, but there was no luck involved here. It's not even as if we were hanging on by our fingertips. This was a victory that we fully deserved, and in fact the final scoreline proved hugely flattering to City - United should have been four up by half time.

Despite five minutes added on and in the presence of the great man, there is no "Fergie time" leveller. As referee Anthony Taylor blows his whistle and with this particular Red on pint number three, Manchester is red again and United - not for the first time - have defied the odds in the face of all reasonable logic. 

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Match report: Man City 1-2 Man Utd

Manchester United stunned Pep Guardiola's faltering City and re-invigorated our own top four challenge with a thrilling and fully deserved victory in the 179th Manchester derby.
Marcus Rashford continued his red hot run of form with a VAR-assisted penalty and the returning Anthony Martial made it 2-0 with a superb second six minutes further on. City looked devoid of ideas for long periods but fought their way back and set up a frantic finale through substitute Nicolas Otamendi's header. Despite coming under siege in the final moments, the Reds heroically stood strong to secure the biggest win of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's permanent tenure at the club in his 50th match in charge.

United and manager Solskjaer have justifiably had their critics this season but, to a man, every player was absolutely immense and in truth the scoreline proved a flattering one for the hosts with a host of chances falling our way with United a threat every time we went forward.
The result saw City slip 14 points behind Liverpool and their hopes of a third successive title - if not quite yet in the dust - are now hanging by a thread. Their air of invincibility has slipped and United's penchant for defying the odds was once again in evidence at the Etihad.

The Reds set the tone for what was to follow with a blistering start that could have yielded two goals in the first ten minutes. Springing clear on the counter, Jesse Lingard found Dan James and his effort was beaten away by Ederson. The City keeper was by far the busier and came to his side's rescue once more to deny first Lingard and then Rashford.

Rashford's clever lob came back off the bar and Martial flashed a shot wide as incredibly, Guardiola's side were left chasing shadows and struggling to get a foothold in the game. United were bristling with intent and got our rewards in the 23rd minute when Rashford burst clear but was clumsily bundled over by Bernardo Silva. Referee Anthony Taylor initially waved play on, but overturned his decision on the advice of VAR and Rashford sent Ederson the wrong way from the spot for his 13th goal of an impressive season.
With City still reeling from the shock, United set about causing more problems for their hosts and duly obliged on the half hour mark when James picked out Martial and he had time and space to squeeze his shot inside Ederson's near post.

City finally managed to get a grip of things after that, especially in midfield, although the damage was done and the stuffing simply knocked out of them. They had a penalty appeal turned down for handball against a lunging Fred shortly before half time, and Gabriel Jesus headed wastefully wide from a Kevin de Bruyne cross.

Raheem Sterling - marshalled superbly by the magnificent Aaron Wan - Bissaka throughout, barely got a sniff and blazed wildly off target when a rare opportunity did fall his way.
It was testament to United's heroic defensive efforts that, for all their possession and territory, City were unable to apply any serious pressure on David de Gea.
In fact, we went close to making it 3-0 when Ederson tipped wide from Lingard after another lightning break.

Otamendi's header five minutes from time - when he thumped in a header unmarked - set up a harum scarum finish as City came again and laid siege to the United goal. De Gea saved brilliantly from substitute Riyad Mahrez with his foot, Victor Lindelof thwarted David Silva and Jesus flashed a shot across the face of goal in the first of five added minutes.

United held out for two huge back to back wins to end an important week in glorious Manchester United fashion. UTFR!!

The game was marred by allegations of racist abuse towards Lingard, Rashford and Fred in the second half, while the latter was also twice hit by an object thrown at him from the stands.

Overall team performance: 9/10. Every player absolutely immense, to a man and from front to back.
United Faithful Man of the Match: We could give this to the entire team, we were that good. With honourable mentions to Fred, Rashford and Victor Lindelof, it just has to be Aaron Wan - Bissaka. Simply magnificent. He had the game of his life on his Manchester derby debut.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Scott McTominay: From ridiculed outcast to midfield maestro

When Scott McTominay made his first tentative steps in first team Red at Manchester United, only Jose Mourinho seemed convinced.

McTominay was a limited player and was only anywhere near the team because of his manager's penchant for anyone over 6ft. A homegrown product from the Academy, McTominay's roots as one of our own was the perfect tick box exercise for Mourinho. He was a symbol of the manager's perceived bias and the
epitome of United's post Sir-Alex Ferguson nosedive.

When Mourinho presented McTominay with his own end of season award, the ridicule was far reaching and widely received. He went out of his way to single him out for his unwavering commitment and exemplary attitude. Mourinho may have got a fair bit wrong during his two and a half years at United but I think he got it right when it comes to McTominay. If there's one thing fans love, it's showing fight for the shirt and passion for the badge.

It was a delicious irony, therefore, that the downfall of the self proclaimed Special One on his return to his former stamping ground was orchestrated by the string pulling exploits of the 22-year old Lancaster born Scot.

The last time United played well was against Brighton three weeks ago. Three very average performances and results without him were followed up by a statement win over Mourinho's previously unbeaten Tottenham on Wednesday. The common denominator? The man we all know affectionately as McSauce. When he limped from the field against the Seagulls, collective hearts sank. We had no one to come in for him and United certainly suffered in his absence. It surely can't be a co-incidence that his first game back was our best performance of the season.

McTominay, the McTominator, McSauce, has proved far more indispensable to us than his more illustrious colleague Paul Pogba.  Now the loss of Pogba is not as keenly felt. Supporters do not pour out of Old Trafford ruing Pogba's prolonged lay-off for they have become apathetic to his variable form that ranges from feckless to phenomenal. United undeniably missed McTominay against Sheffield United and Aston Villa. He is the epitome of this side and was a driving force from the off against Spurs. Alongside him, Fred had arguably his best game in a United shirt. The Brazilian looked far more at ease with himself with McTominay next to him than he does when alongside his compatriot Andreas Pereira. 

McTominay is the epitome of this side - a totemic mixture of grit and guile, linking the play, driving forward, tracking back, winning tackles, and he never stops running. Any arguments against his status as a favourite and the first name on the team sheet is given the treatment. He loves riling up opponents, he loves a tackle and his tenacity and temerity belies his tender years. 

There was nothing to suggest that he would ever be good enough for this club - but just as a growth spurt catapulted him into contention, McTominay has risen from an awkward, ridiculed outcast to a player who is indispensable to the cause. Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he's only continued to grow as our midfield enforcer and as a leader.
Marcus Rashford may have rightly earned the man of the match award against Spurs for an almost unplayable performance, but McSauce wasn't far behind. Noticeably purposeful with his passing, he rarely wastes possession and was always looking to get us on the front foot. 65% of his passes went forward and there are shades of Michael Carrick about him. He's almost undroppable now.

You get the feeling that he sees the small yellow crest on his left pectoral muscle as a genuine honour. He's rather die for it than lose a game of football. As Tony Adams once said: "Play for the badge on the front and they will remember the name on the back."

Solskjaer could not have worded it better at full-time when saying Scott McTominay was the type of player he wants at Manchester United: Commitment, heart, dedication, fight, grit and quality. Is it any wonder he is being earmarked as a future captain of the club? 

Much like that growth spurt at 18, few could have predicted the meteoric rise of a player who was seen as nothing more than a Mourinho yes man. 

United earn their Spurs through our very own Special One

What was billed as the Jose Mourinho derby instead turned into the Marcus Rashford show as United's in-form striker turned in his finest performance in Red.

A constant threat, the 22-year-old was a blur of menace and inventiveness as he registered a brace and should have had a hat-trick. Although he was unable to register the first Reds league treble since Sir Alex retired, Rashford was inspirational and Mourinho's Tottenham simply could not deal with him. He has had his critics no doubt, but Rashford is a man in red hot form with eleven goals in 12 games for club and country. It's amazing what confidence and an arm around the shoulder can do.

Mourinho’s latest reincarnation at Spurs is as a “humble” 56-year-old who has learned the lessons of the United dog days. Apparently, that is. He had guided his new side to three consecutive wins since replacing Mauricio Pochettino but the new persona was yet to be tested.

I have no ill will against Mourinho, I've got no axe to grind with him and wish him nothing but the best in the future. There seems to be a warmth about him that became conspicuous by its absence at the end of his United tenure when he cut a sulky, sullen and disconnected figure. Given his former side's stilting, stuttering form under his successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whether we could cut  the 'new' Mourinho and his rejuvenated side down to size was an unknown quantity ahead of this contest. 

Would United be the side unbeaten against Arsenal, Liverpool, Leicester and Chelsea twice (we're still the only side to take points off the Scousers), or the incoherent jumble that lost to Newcastle, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and West Ham? Ole selected 18 year Mason Greenwood up front in his first league start of the season as Rashford kept his place on his favoured left hand side position. Mourinho's team - perhaps an ebodiment of his new identikit - was attacking, with Lucas Moura, Son Heung - min, Dele Alli and Harry Kane all shoehorned into the visitors line up. 
United's draw with Liverpool saw Solskjaer select a back three that laid a platform for the team's most convincing, complete performance of the season so far. Against Tottenham, he went with a back four again and United tore into the north London side from the off, with Rashford needing only six minutes to fire the Reds ahead. Old Trafford erupted as Solskjaer met the goal with a brief fist pump and an embrace with Michael Carrick. Mourinho stood motionless.

United’s display – Spurs’ equaliser apart – would prove a near-clone of that which troubled runaway leaders Liverpool as they harried Spurs and, when in possession, zipped the ball around slickly and with purpose. 

This was breathless from United and made it feel quaint just how lost they can look. After the abhorrent showing in Sunday's dire draw with Villa, here was the evidence of how good we can be. Inconsistency is the hallmark of young teams, of course. So, too, the inability to kill off opponents, as United had failed to do with Spurs as the interval neared.

It meant the second half was a test for United – and for Solskjaer. We passed it admirably, thanks primarily to Rashford, who won and then converted the crucial penalty for a ninth league strike of what may prove the defining season of a career still in its infancy. 

So what did we learn from all this? Rashford had one of those almost unplayable performances which will enhance his reputation no end, a huge step forward in his ever growing maturity. 
There were totemic performances all over the pitch in a United side that didn't buckle in, dug deep and player its heart out for us, the club and our manager. We were brave, showed courage and tremendous character. Scott McTominay was excellent on his return and it's surely not be accident that United's upturn in level co-incided with his comeback. But let's not hesitate to praise Fred - poor in recent games but bouncing back himself in what was arguably his best game for the club, up there with his showing against Barcelona all the way back in March. 
A relatively low bar admittedly, but one that is getting higher by the week. 

A big result for Ole and you have to be delighted for him. The criticism and pressure on him - with Mauricio Pochettino looming - has undoubtedly gone past what's deserved. It's overshadowed the legitimate doubters enough to inspire one of the best Old Trafford atmospheres witnessed for many a time. It's clear the majority still have his back and want him to succeed. 
This result has to galvanise and give Solskjaer a breather from the noose around his neck. As for a certain Special One, he took the defeat with grace and the newfound Mr Humble showed that, maybe, perhaps, he learned something beyond simply the bitter pill of failure at Old Trafford. 

Match report: Man Utd 2-1 Spurs

Manchester United produced our best performance of the season to topple Jose Mourinho and ease the pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Marcus Rashford scored twice to fire the Reds to a fully deserved victory that could and should have been secured by an even more convincing margin. There were several superb showings in Red, with Rashford, the returning Scott McTominay, Victor Lindelof, Fred and Aaron Wan - Bissaka in particular the pick of the bunch. The result, United's first win in five games, lifted us up to sixth place in the table and ended the visitors 100% start to life under Mourinho.

The in-form Rashford scored his eleventh goal of the season to put United ahead with only six minutes played. Dan James broke clear down the left, his cross deflected off Davinson Sanchez and found its way on to the 22-year-old, who continued his red hot run with a near post finish beyond Tottenham keeper Paulo Gazzaniga. The Spurs keeper probably should have done better but made amends as he kept his side in the game with a string of top stops.
The Argentine - deputising for the injured Hugo Lloris - denied Fred from distance, kept out Rashford with his legs and then pushed a piledriver from the same player onto the bar as the Reds threatened to run riot.

Rashford was everywhere and went close again with a free-kick that flashed narrowly wide and Mason Greenwood also went close, but then out of nowhere Spurs wrestled an undeserved equaliser.

Completely against the run of play, Dele Alli levelled five minutes before half-time. The otherwise outstanding Fred thought he had the situation under control as the ball looped up in the six yard box. But Alli leaned into the Brazilian, then rolled around him before he flicked the ball over Ashley Young and turned it beyond the stranded David de Gea into the far corner. The goal was checked by VAR for a handball infringement but there was nothing wrong with it and Alli's effort was correctly awarded.

But far from that goal having knocked the stuffing out of United, the Reds came again and restored our lead shortly after the resumption.
He collected the ball wide on the left, shimmied past Serge Aurier and was scythed down by the befuddled Moussa Sissoko. After a long VAR check, Rashford held his nerve to blast home the spot kick and notch his 12th goal in 13 games for both club and country.

Gazzaniga twice saved well from Dan James but soon United's threat began to negate and with our record of losing leads still fresh in the memory, Old Trafford nervously watched on as Spurs continued to press.

The Reds dug in heroically to make the transition from dangerous to dogged and - one Alli effort aside - were in fact barely tested as Solskjaer's side saw out the game for a hugely significant victory.

Overall team performance: 8/10. This was United's best performance of the season by a distance.
United Faithful Man of the Match: With honourable mentions to Fred and Victor Lindelof, Marcus Rashford gets the nod for an almost unplayable performance. Kudos.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Man Utd v Spurs: Mourinho returns to face his successor

There's no prizes for guessing who the spotlight will be on as Manchester United welcome Tottenham and a familiar face to Old Trafford.
At the most pivotal point of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United tenure, the last thing he needs is a game against one of the top six sides in red-hot form. Especially when they're managed by a certain Jose Mourinho.
Very few of us saw the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino coming, fewer still the appointment of the Special One as his replacement. It's clear now that Spurs had been flirting with Mourinho for some time, and by a strange twist of fate, he quickly goes head to head with his successor. To add to the irony, the man who was dismissed to pave the way for Jose's arrival - Pochettino - has long been touted as a United manager in waiting. It really is a funny old game.

Mourinho's appointment has certainly had the desired effect on a Spurs squad that had gone stale. He's won three out of three so far, with wins over West Ham and Bournemouth in the league sandwiched by European success against Olympiakos. Those results have not come in a manner you would normally associate with a Mourinho team, however, with a free-flowing Tottenham scoring goals for fun but a porous defence - they've conceded six goals in those three games - leaving Mourinho with food for thought. It will be fascinating to see how he sets up for this one - will he revert to his pragmatic raison d'etre by constraining things or will he try and outgun a shaky United side there for the taking?

Despite United's struggles and failure to beat two newly promoted sides Sheffield (3-3) and Villa (2-2), this is, in many ways, the perfect game for Solskjaer's United. We tend to perform better in the big games and are at our best when pressure and expectation is at a minimum with backs jammed firmly against the wall.
Paul Pogba remains sidelined with the ankle injury that has kept him out for two months but Ole is hopeful that fellow midfield man Scott McTominay will be fit in time. McSauce's absence has been sorely felt in recent weeks but he is the most likely of the two to feature here.  Nemanja Matic's fitness will be assessed, but Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot and Timothy Fosu - Mensah are all still sidelined.
The United boss could be tempted to revert to a back three with Axel Tuanzebe coming in to try to tighten a defence that has looked leaky in recent weeks.
For in-form Spurs, captain and keeper Hugo Lloris (elbow) is out until the New Year so Paulo Gazzaniga will continue to deputise between the sticks. Erik Lamela (thigh) and Ben Davies (ankle) are both ruled out. 

United manager Solskjaer on his predecessor and the team's form: "Jose Mourinho will get a very good reception; that's a testament to the club, the supporters of this club. Of course they remember the time he was here, he won trophies. I've had 50 games since then and the club isn't where it should have been and isn't where we want to be, and we know we have to improve."

United vs Spurs is live from Old Trafford on Amazon Prime streaming service with commentary on Five Live with a 7.30pm kick off.

Form guide: Man Utd L W W D L D Tottenham D W D W W W 
Match odds: Man Utd 7/4 Draw 12/5 Spurs 8/5
Referee: Paul Tierney (Wigan) 

Monday, 2 December 2019

Why the clamour for Patricio Mochettino?

As the dust begins to settle on a (nother) tumultuous weekend for Manchester United, my mind was cast back to an identical situation four years ago almost to the day.
Back then, in the final throes of 2015, United were booed off that day after a dismal home defeat to Norwich City. The cacophony of discontent was so loud even Louis van Gaal couldn't have failed to hear it. As the name of Jose Mourinho was sung loud around Old Trafford, it marked the beginning of the end for the Dutchman. From that day on, the Special One's appointment at United became the worst kept secret in the game. Five months later, Mourinho, one of the most decorated bosses of his generation, rode into Old Trafford seemingly as our saviour. We all know how it ended, but he left as our most successful manager for many a year. Just a shame he came into the hotseat three years too late.

Mourinho was the obvious choice to replace a manager who never seemed a good fit from the start. The Portuguese, a serial winner with eyes on the job and one of the best bosses of his generation, had been recently sacked by Chelsea and with our club in need of a readily available world class manager, he was the first - indeed only - option for the job.
Here we are again, with the name of only one man on everyone's lips as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer begins to sink beneath the surface, hamstrung by his board, weighed down by an awful squad and an even worse coaching setup. It hasn't reached the point where we're singing for a new man at the wheel, but sometimes silence can be golden. The only reason Solskjaer hasn't felt the full force of fury ringing in his ears is because we know this board is useless and Ole's own status as a club legend.

But it's clear something has to change. It's looking like Solskjaer isn't up to the job and this can't go on. The clamour is rising for a chap from the town of Murphy, a small town in central Argentina. A manager widely regarded as the archetypal modern day boss - tactically flexible, a champion of youth, a great man manager with a high energy, full throttle approach to the game. Enter, Mauricio Pochettino.
Now I've got nothing against him, I'm sure he's a decent chap with a nice family life and he certainly seems to come across well and speaks eloquently to the media. But whilst the above attributes are admirable, in ten years in professional top level football management, Pochettino has won.... precisely nothing. Nil. Zilch. Nada. Even Moyes won a Community Shield at Old Trafford and he was pony.
If Man Utd are looking for an elite, top level, proven winner as our next manager, Pochettino is not that man. The zenith of the bloke's managerial CV is a Champions League final that he fluked his way to and still didn't win. His Tottenham team finished third in a two horse race. The nearly man. The serial choker. Yet some think he's the perfect fit for Manchester United? Really? What he did at Spurs was basically the equivalent of what David Moyes did at Everton - take a group of mid level players and got them challenging around the top four or five season after season with the occasional cup run thrown in. Sorry, Mauricio but no one remembers the person that almost won. I don't want a nearly but not quite manager at my club. Based on that point of view, we may as well keep OGS or bring back Moyes. Also, Ole has beaten him twice. He may be waiting in the wings, but Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are sure to cast flirtatious glances in his direction. Both of those clubs are better propositions right now than this shambolic mess.
There is an argument to be had that he was held back from taking that final, trophy winning step in north London by his boss Daniel Levy, an erudite businessman who kept his cards close to his chest and never spent more than he had to. It was this, it's believed, that eventually saw the axe fall for the popular Poch.

But consider this: If Moyes, Mourinho and so far Solskjaer weren't fully backed by the board then what makes us believe Pochettino would be as well. It would cost £12.5m just to get him through the door - an absolute fortune for the penny pinching puppets patrolling the Old Trafford corridors of power.

Yes he's an upgrade on what we already have, but we don't just need an upgrade, we need major surgery. There are plenty of other options out there, Max Allegri, Carlo Ancelotti and Ernesto Valverde to name but three. All have achieved more than Pochettino and all would be better qualified to take the job at United. What's the answer? I don't know, but one thing is becoming increasingly clear - it certainly isn't Solskjaer.