DANNY MURPHY: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer simply can’t compete with Guardiola, Klopp and Tuchel
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is unlucky that Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel are the best in the world. They set the bar extremely high and compared to them Solskjaer is inferior.
He has qualities and has done a lot of good things at United; he has helped them progress, make the eye easier, and come close to mining silverware.
But after three years, the fanbase and hierarchy want more than that. They demand trophies and I don’t believe Solskjaer can tactically compete with his rivals or make big man management decisions.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer simply cannot stand his rival managers in the Premier League
The likes of Pep Guardiola (right) and Jurgen Klopp (left) are in another league to Solskjaer
I don’t think Tuchel, Klopp or Guardiola lose too much sleep trying to keep players happy. They are clear in doing what is best for the team. Pep has talked about leaving out Raheem Sterling and John Stones, it doesn’t consume him. Klopp approved the sale of Philippe Coutinho, controversial at the time, as the Brazilian did not fit into the big picture.
Tuchel responded to a bad patch at Chelsea earlier this season by picking eight defensive players and leaving a host of big names on the bench as he wanted to win again. That’s the ruthless mentality that Ole needs to find, but we haven’t seen it yet and may never see it.
United made an incredible run for the game against Leicester and that takes character. But they’ve lost the fear factor at Old Trafford, where opponents get a lot of the ball and score easily.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has shown ruthlessness lacking under Solskjaer at United
Even with United playing Fred and Scott McTominay in midfield, they don’t get enough help from the four players in front of them. That may not be laziness of the broad players and Bruno Fernandes, but rather a lack of leadership from management.
Players must be made aware of their duties and understand that there will be consequences if they do not follow the instructions.
David Silva was world-class when Guardiola arrived at City, but his stats still went through the roof in terms of pressing, recovering the ball and distance covered. The same was true for Sergio Aguero. He understood that if he didn’t fit in with the new philosophy, he wouldn’t play.
At United there are too many in the comfort zone. Until there are more consequences for poor performance, they will have problems. Tuchel, Klopp and Guardiola would make United more competitive with the players Solskjaer can choose from.
Too many players are in their comfort zone at United and the squad needs more guidance
Normally calm, he showed some emotion after Atalanta with a little digging at fans who booed during halftime. It was a sign that he is under pressure, but I don’t think blowing off steam is necessarily a bad thing, the fans like to see that passion.
His main concern will be finding a balance on the pitch. I suspect he would like to play a more pragmatic kind of football to get results, but that is not seen as United’s way. So he’s stuck between a rock and a hard spot.
WAS ATALANTA A TURNING POINT?
The midweek win over the Italians is indicative of the ups and downs United fans can expect. There will be some wonderful games at Old Trafford and some really disappointing ones.
Every game at this point is like a cup final, a FIFA console game. They have great creative players who score great goals but are vulnerable defensively. It can be exciting, but Solskjaer doesn’t know what he’s going to get.
United’s games are exciting, but the team needs balance and is too dependent on individuals
His problem is to accommodate his attacking players without losing team balance.
Right now, United rely on individual genius to get them out of trouble.
Solskjaer wants to please the fans with United’s style of play because he understands the tradition. It will lead to dramatic nights like Atalanta, but is not conducive to winning major leagues. United finishing in the top four or reaching the semi-finals is not enough.
WAS RONALDO’S SIGNING A MISTAKE?
Foul is the wrong word as he is a better goalscorer than anyone else, but his presence creates more problems than it solves.
United scored a lot without him and the arrival of Ronaldo has affected the playing time of others. Mason Greenwood would have had more time as a centre-forward, allowing Jadon Sancho to play more right wing and better bed-in than he has.
Ronaldo was brilliant for United but his presence creates more problems than it solves
Defensively, United’s problems would exist, with or without Ronaldo, because of the way they line up with four attacking players not doing enough from possession.
While I can see Ronaldo’s romantic and business appeal, the team would have benefited more from attracting a world-class defensive midfielder as they already have Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Sancho as forwards.
WHAT SHOULD THE PLAN AGAINST LIVERPOOL BE?
Solskjaer has tinkered with Liverpool in the past. He once played split strikers and caused Rashford to give Trent Alexander-Arnold problems, but given United’s defensive disarray at the moment, I’d keep it simple and match Liverpool across the board.
That means playing 4-3-3 and making sure all three midfielders, including Bruno Fernandes or Paul Pogba, if selected, do the defensive portion of the game rather than drifting around like number 10. It’s important that United don’t is overrun.
Solskjaer must keep it simple against Liverpool and adapt to their 4-3-3 formation
In that way, the key for United’s players is to win their individual battles. It’s not complicated. It’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s job to stop Sadio Mane, Luke Shaw’s job to stop Mo Salah. On the other hand, Rashford, Sancho or whoever plays wide must take the beating from Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.
By mimicking Liverpool’s system and ensuring they are not dominated in any area of the pitch, United make it an even tactical battle, then it’s up to the quality of the players, and United have that.
DOES POGBA DESERVE A NEW CONTRACT?
He has great skills and enjoyed a really good start to the season. But if United are going to build their attack around Bruno and Ronaldo, I see no point in keeping Pogba on a great new deal and then using him as a supporting actor.
We’ve seen that Bruno and Pogba don’t really work together in midfield against good opponents. If you play Pogba wide to give him a shoehorn, you are sacrificing one of your gifted wingers.
Also from Pogba’s point of view, why would he want to continue at Old Trafford if he is being shunted from one position to another. It would make sense for all parties if he left because he won’t be one of the main men and is too talented to be used for cameos.
There’s no doubt that Pogba has great skills, but there’s no point in him being a supporting actor
THE BEACH MYSTERY
Who bought it? Was it a bit of public relations because he was one of the few household names at the time?
Sometimes you sign a player and when they show up, they don’t check the boxes you expect. But this looked like a particularly odd buy from the get-go as his preferred position is where Bruno Fernandes plays and he’s not that good so why invest £35million?
We don’t have enough evidence to decide whether Van de Beek can do a job, he has played so little. He looked neat and tidy with no lack of effort, but inevitably his confidence will have suffered from joining a new club that doesn’t seem to interest him.
Donny van de Beek has not ticked any of the boxes for Manchester United and needs a move
WHY START A SLOW START FOR SANCHO?
He has not been helped by the arrival of Ronaldo, as it limits his chances at his favorite position, with Greenwood also having to play wide. I don’t think the late arrival at United after the European Championship helped.
Pre-season at a new club is key and I would have appeared the moment I signed. If it didn’t mean a vacation, then no vacation.
Sancho didn’t play every minute of Euro 2020, so it was surprising that he started training later than other English players and was therefore not ready to start the first Premier League game.
It feels like he’s been catching up since then. My best seasons as a player always came after good preparation.
Sancho’s chances are limited but he is still young and needs more support
In his defense he is young and when you go to a club like United you need help and guidance.
He has a good role model in Rashford in how to handle things. Rashford was out for a while with his shoulder injury, but his performances over the past week have been full of intensity and intention.
He said to the manager: ‘If I’m fit, you should play against me’.
Sancho may have a different personality, but he needs to somehow incorporate some more of that “I’ll show you” into his game and start imposing himself.