UNITED LATEST 0:57 ET, Nov 12 2021Updated: 0:57 ET, Nov 12 2021OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER’S reign at Manchester United is hanging by a thread, SunSport can exclusively reveal.
The question is when not if he will be sacked by the club.
And Brendan Rodgers is reportedly the favourite to take the job should Solskjaer be dispensed with.
This comes after Tottenham snapped up Antonio Conte and Zinedine Zidane privately ruled himself out of contention.
In another SunSport exclusive, Paul Pogba could have played his final game for United.
Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger has revealed he TURNED DOWN the chance to manage Manchester United.
The legendary Arsenal boss, whose rivalry with Sir Alex Ferguson was infamous, could have gone to Real Madrid or Barcelona as well.
Follow all the latest Man Utd news, transfer and gossip from Old Trafford below…
GOOD MORNING UNITED FANS
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been told he needs back-up from backroom if he is going to survive as Manchester United manager.
The warning comes from Sam Allardyce, who insists that without the right men by his side he would never have been a success.
Big Sam is not sure if Solskjaer can keep living with the pressure of staying in charge at Old Trafford.
Certainly not without the right help from coaches Mike Phelan, Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna.
Veteran Allardyce, 67, has seen Solskjaer go grey with stress in the three years since he replaced Jose Mourinho.
That strain has only increased following humiliating defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City.
Allardyce said: “You just have to look at his hair. Ole can only get through it with his staff and then by putting the players on the right track.
“Your staff need to be right on top of their game. We get all the criticism and all the praise as managers, but if you haven’t got the right staff… the success I had, I couldn’t have done it without my staff.
“I can’t believe I’ve still not got a total silver fox. People think I dye mine, but I don’t. I should have been a silver fox about 10 years ago.
“My advice to Ole is I would shut everything down from the inside, which is almost an impossible task.
“But to focus internally and keep the outside influences away from everybody.
“Focus and really find a way out of it with your staff. Ole’s staff are never more important than they are now.
“Ole can only get through it with his staff and then by putting the players on the right track. You need your staff need to be right on top of their game.”
‘DONE A GOOD JOB’
Ex-Manchester United star Kleberson has backed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and argues the players are to blame for the recent bad form.
He points to United’s response to the Liverpool defeat – the 3-0 win over Tottenham – as a sign that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can turn things around.
And instead, Kleberson, who played alongside Solskjaer at Old Trafford, has blamed a lack of quality for recent defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City.
Kleberson told Paddy Power: “If you go back to the Liverpool game, when Manchester United lost, everyone was saying that it’s time to change the manager.
“The team wasn’t playing well, but United responded incredibly against Tottenham Hotspur. And now, after the Manchester City defeat, people are asking for a managerial change again.
“People have been asking questions about Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s future for a long time, but in my opinion, he’s done a good job, and has done exactly what he’s been asked to do.
“It’s a difficult task to manage this club and get the best out of the team every week.
“When Manchester United are playing well, it’s because the entire team are performing highly and demonstrating their quality. Obviously, the players are a big part in that, but the manager is too.”
Man Utd have made Brendan Rodgers their top target to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it’s been claimed.
The Norwegian’s long-term future at Old Trafford is still in major doubt, despite the brass’ seemingly unwavering faith in him.
But embarrassing defeats to rivals Liverpool and Manchester City have reportedly prompted the Red Devils to identify potential replacements for their former striker.
And the Daily Star claims club chiefs are keen on Leicester City boss Rodgers taking charge at Old Trafford.
The report adds that they’re also confident of acquiring his services.
It’s claimed a release clause in Rodgers’ contract – which permits him to leave for a Champions League club – has given United belief a deal can be struck.
There is also a sense Rodgers would find it impossible to turn down an offer if Manchester United came calling.
‘WHAT’S THE POINT?’
Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has claimed that Manchester United are a better team without Cristiano Ronaldo.
He told Sky Sports News: “I personally think Man Utd are a better football team without Cristiano Ronaldo.
“They had a good unbeaten run last year by playing a certain way – counter-attacking football. You don’t get that with Ronaldo. That’s gone now. They don’t have that pace anymore.
“What’s the point in having a 20-goal a season striker if you don’t win anything?
“It’s like Harry Kane at Spurs. Having a striker scoring that many goals doesn’t guarantee you a top-four spot.”
Credit: EPA WRIGHT TIME TO GO?
Arsenal legend Ian Wright believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has ‘reached his level’ as Manchester United boss.
He said on Wrighty’s House: “Every pundit is seeing and saying the same thing, no direction, no coordination, no structure with great players.
“If they get it right in situations, they are going to beat teams. But anyone who is organised against Man United, like we saw at Leicester, like we saw Liverpool do at a canter, you’ll cause them a massive problem.
“And that is happening simply because the manager has got to his level.
“I’m looking at ex-Man United players, Rio [Ferdinand], Roy Keane, now we are starting to hear stuff, they cannot wait to say this player is not good enough, that player is not good enough.
“We say it flippantly. But this manager has reached his level.”
Manchester United star Victor Lindelof isn’t phased by the criticism aimed at the club.
United have been under scrutiny for their poor displays this season but Lindelof expects such pressure when playing for a big club such as the Red Devils.
He told Aftonblade: “When you play for United, there will always be a lot of media coverage. It goes up and down in football.
“We have performed very well in football as well. If you get some bad results, clearly a lot is written. Internally, we’re just trying to work hard and try to reverse the bad results.
“We have not got the results and performed as we wish. It hasn’t been the best possible, but that’s the way it is in football. It’s about coming back and working harder.”
Credit: EPA MIC DROP
Micah Richards has joked that Jamie Carragher may choose to defend new Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard in the same way Gary Neville has with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Gerrard, 41, was confirmed as Dean Smith’s successor at Villa Park on Thursday morning.
And Richards was quick to question what Gerrard’s ex-teammate Carragher’s approach will be when critiquing him on Sky Sports.
Speaking on Twitter, Richards said: “I wonder if Carragher is gonna protect Gerrard like Neville protects Solskjaer. But that’s not my business.”
Jabbing back at Richards, one social media user said: “We can wait for the Man City legend to become manager for you to criticise. Oh wait there aren’t any.”
Another added: “I’m not sure Gerrard will need the same amount of protection that Ole does.”
Kevin De Bruyne revealed Manchester City trained for just TEN MINUTES the day before facing rivals United.
Pep Guardiola’s side cruised to a 2-0 win over their neighbours last Saturday thanks to an Eric Bailly own goal and Bernardo Silva effort after a defensive mix-up.
And after that red-hot performance you wouldn’t have known that City had hardly trained the day before.
De Bruyne told Dutch podcast Mid Mid: “The day before a game we usually train tactically, based on how the opponent plays.
“Before United, Pep said: ‘We don’t know how they are going to play. We shall see’. And we stopped training after 10 minutes or so.
“Often Pep knows how the opponent is going to play. This time he didn’t know, so he didn’t know what to do.
“We have done what we always do, but he didn’t know beforehand if they would play with five at the back, with four, a diamond in the middle, or with three up front.”
CAN IT BE DON?
Jadon Sancho could be used as a WING-BACK when Manchester United take on Watford.
The Red Devils return from the international break with a trip to Vicarage Road on November 20.
And with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer desperate to get the best out of his stuttering squad, that could see a major shake-up for the £73million winger.
Sancho, 21, has featured for just 342 minutes in the Premier League this season, starting three times.
Here’s how United could line-up against the Hornets.
Paul Pogba is reportedly demanding to be on more money than Cristiano Ronaldo to stay at Manchester United.
The French midfielder, who may have played his last game for the Red Devils, becomes a free agent in the summer and has been linked with both Juventus and Real Madrid.
He is allegedly banking around £290,000-a-week at Old Trafford and is willing to sign a new contract.
L’Equipe even states that Pogba ‘has made no secret’ of his desire to extend his deal at United.
However, the midfielder is ‘clear’ with his demand that he is made the highest-paid player at the club and ultimately the Premier League.
That means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side would need to offer him more than Ronaldo’s £480,000-a-week package.
Credit: PA JUVE KEEN ON MARTIAL AND LACAZETTE
Anthony Martial and Alexandre Lacazette are both reportedly being targeted by Juventus if they fail to land Dusan Vlahovic.
The Old Lady are battling both Arsenal and Tottenham to sign the Serbian striker from Fiorentina.
The 21-year-old is out of contract in 2023 and has so far resisted penning an extension, leading to speculation he could soon be departing for £68million.
Juventus are desperate to snatch him from their Serie A rivals – however they have also allegedly drawn-up a list of five potential alternatives.
Calciomercato claims boss Max Allegri has identified both Manchester United outcast Martial and Arsenal’s Lacazette as other options.
Credit: Getty – Contributor THE HEND IS NEAR
Dean Henderson wants to quit Manchester United at the end of the season if he can’t reclaim the No1 spot from David De Gea, according to reports.
If he is still not in the United team by the end of the season, he will seek a move away from Old Trafford to make it happen, according to the Mail.
And Newcastle are reportedly willing to swoop for the £120,000-a-week goalkeeper.
Henderson, 24, played 26 times for the Red Devils last season.
But he tested positive for Covid in July and missed pre-season after it took him longer than expected to recover from the virus.
PREMIER LEAGUE NEXT SEASON
Things get underway on August 6 – the weekend before the start of the campaign this year.
Club bosses agreed that the season will start early because of the winter World Cup getting underway on November 21.
The season will include 34 weekend Match Days, three mid-weeks and one Bank Holiday round.
And there will still be a standalone weekend for the FA Cup final.
Prem chiefs have tried to keep the season as close as possible to the usual format – while incorporating the break needed for the World Cup to take place.
Gary Neville has slammed Premier League bosses for decision to not support homeless charity Shelter.
Top-flight clubs were hoping to back Shelter’s #NoHomeKit initiative by all wearing their change kits on Boxing Day.
However, while the Football League has confirmed their support, the Premier League has said it goes against their rules.
Their stance infuriated Neville who raged on Twitter: “Imagine refusing a request to raise money and awareness for homelessness.”
But the ex-United star reckons Prem sides can change the league’s bosses mind and force them to ‘u-turn’ like prime minister Boris Johnson.
Neville added: “A Johnson-like U-turn on its way if the clubs push hard!”
MORE FROM THE PREM
In a statement, a Premier League spokesperson said: “The Premier League 2022/23 season dates have been confirmed.
“The season has been adjusted to accommodate the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 which will take place in the middle of the domestic calendar.
“The Premier League season will start on 6 August 2022. Match Round 16 will be the last set of matches played over the weekend of 12-13 November ahead of the call-up period for the tournament beginning on Monday 14 November.
“The League will resume on Boxing Day following the FIFA World Cup Final, which takes place on Sunday 18 December 2022.
“The final match round of the campaign will be played on 28 May 2023, when all games will kick off simultaneously as usual.”
The controversial 2022 World Cup in Qatar is set to wreak havoc to the Premier League schedule.
England’s top-flight will break for SEVEN weeks while the tournament goes on – with the final pencilled in for December 18.
It comes 16 Match Days into the season – three before the halfway stage.
The Prem will then resume just a week later on Boxing Day 2022.
With the World Cup lasting 28 days, the last 16 round of the Carabao Cup will take place in the midweek before Christmas, before the December 26 fixtures will see the resumption of Prem activity.
That’s after breaking following the conclusion of games on the weekend of November 12-13.
The season will then finish on May 28, 2023.
The season will, as revealed by SunSport in September, finish on Sunday May 28, with the FA Cup Final the following Saturday, a week before the Champions League Final.
JOHN THE MONEY
John Arne Riise has blasted Manchester United players for ‘not seeming to care’.
He told talkSPORT: “I do feel for him, as a person, of course, but he’s stepped into one of the biggest jobs in the world.
“And when things are not going well, like they are now, it’s so easy to learn and manage it but, at the same time, I’ve watched the last three or four games of Man Utd and the attitude from the players – you can’t always blame the manager for everything.
“Look at the aggression, the tightness, the willingness to fight for the club – it’s not there from the players, and that annoys me because like, myself, I was not the most technical player, but at least I gave 110%, no matter how I was playing.
“Look at the Man United players now, they don’t seem to care.”
Sir Alex Ferguson claimed Thierry Henry’s reinvention from winger to striker at Arsenal turned the Old Trafford atmosphere ‘toxic’.
The United legend enjoyed a fierce rivalry with Arsene Wenger’s Gunners in the early 2000s as the two sides often went head-to-head for the title.
And Fergie has revealed Wenger’s masterstroke decision to play Henry through the middle after he arrived in North London shifted the atmosphere at United.
Ferguson admitted, via The Mirror, in the documentary ‘Arsene Wenger: Invincible’: “It became toxic for a while.
“The big change that made Arsenal was reinventing [Thierry] Henry. And the goals… he was fantastic.
“You’re always looking in the rear-view mirror to see who’s coming up behind you, and when you see someone you accelerate.
“Arsenal were catching us up, and their team was good enough to go above us, there’s no question about that.”
Dutch sensation Ryan Gravenberch has dealt a blow to Manchester United and Liverpool – by declaring his aim to sign a new contract with Ajax.
The Holland midfielder, just 19, has become one of Europe’s most-wanted players after helping his club to a league and cup double last season.
The nine-cap international, an Ajax academy product, said he is in no hurry to leave his hometown club.
Gravenberch told Voetbal International: “I am very happy at Ajax, and I don’t yet want to leave.
“I am in talks with the club about a new contract. Things are progressing, and hopefully they will turn out well.
I don’t feel like this is my last season with Ajax. I feel that I can still learn a lot here, and I still want to win a lot of trophies with the club.
“I’ll never forget the magical atmosphere at our Champions League games in the 2018-19 season, which I watched from the stand.
“And now I’m playing in these games myself. The fans’ support truly drives us on.”
Manchester City ace Ferran Torres has revealed he looks to Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo as his physical and nutritional inspiration.
Torres reckons Ronaldo changed how footballers treat their bodies which has led him to get a personal trainer and nutritionist.
Speaking to El Desmarque, Torres said: “He [Ronaldo] is my point of reference.
He has changed football in terms of nutrition, taking care of yourself, investing in your body.
“This is a long-term process in which what you do today has repercussions for tomorrow. Football is more physical, and you have to be prepared.”
Manchester City star Josh Stones has backed Harry Maguire to bounce back from his rough patch at Manchester United.
Maguire’s come under fire for his recent performances for United who have been in a poor run of form.
But Stones reckons Maguire’s got the right character and mentality to make things right at Old Trafford.
Stones told talkSPORT: “Harry is an incredible person, first and foremost, and a strong character at that, so I have no doubt that he will come good for Manchester United.
“I don’t want to say that he’s not playing well, because I actually think he’s doing so many things right, but it’s just gets magnified and sometimes taken out of proportion.
“I am not passing the blame or anything but as a character and person that I know, I do believe that he’ll be the incredible player that he is and be back to that very soon.
“He’s got that character and mentality to get back to how he was and I believe he will.”
Man United will be able to sign AC Milan star Frank Kessie on a free transfer next summer, according to reports.
There has been considerable speculation about the midfielder’s future with Kessie yet to agree a new deal.
t has been reported that Milan are yet to meet Kessie’s wage demands of £150,000 a week, according to Fichajes.
Instead, the Italian giants are offering a salary of around £100,000.
The report suggests United are still in the race for Kessie, with the free transfer possibility said to be “delighting” the Red Devils.
Marcus Rashford says lack of education is to blame for the racist trolling he and other players get on social media.
Rashford was targeted along with Manchester United teammate Jadon Sancho and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka after all three missed penalties in the Euros final shoot-out against Italy in the summer.
Rashford, said: “I think educating ourselves on, and championing other, cultures can only benefit our understanding. Discrimination usually stems from a lack of education. It’s a defence mechanism.
“Instead of stigmatising differences, we should be celebrating them. How boring would the world be if we were all the same?
“Books are a great source for us to highlight different characters and better understand background and journey.”
Manchester United are being heavily linked with signing Sevilla and France defender Jules Kounde.
The 22-year-old looked set to agree a deal to join Chelsea in the summer but it failed to get over the line.
And now Man Utd are leading the way in their pursuit of Kounde, who has been capped five times by Didier Deschamps’ national team.
The ex-Bordeaux central defender could well be the final piece in the jigsaw for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to effectively carry out his back three formation.
MAT’S THE TICKET
Lothar Matthaus has picked his four favourites to win the Champions League and THREE of them are from the Premier League.
The former Bayern Munich and Inter Milan icon has backed Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool to go far in the competition but his comments do not make good reading for Man Utd.
All four Prem sides are in the qualification spots in their respective groups with Chelsea the only team who are not top.
However, United have looked unconvincing in most of their fixtures and relied on Cristiano Ronaldo to save them against Villarreal and Atalanta.
Matthaus said: “For me, the favourites for the Champions League are Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Bayern Munich.
“Barcelona have their problems and Atletico Madrid have always been a dangerous team, but they are not as good a team as Liverpool or Man City.”