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Paul McGrath: 'I've finally figured out what is wrong with Manchester United right now'


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

PA Wire/PA Images

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

It took a while to come to me – but I've finally figured out what is wrong with Manchester United right now. Nobody is afraid of playing them anymore!

There was a time when a team facing the Red Devils would go out to do their best, but if they shipped a 2-0 loss, well, it wouldn't be too bad and who are we playing next week? Can we get three points then?

Who fears facing Manchester United now? Bournemouth certainly didn't last weekend when, after a slow start, they looked like the better team throughout the match.

Bournemouth, I mean Bournemouth, with all due respect to them, they should not be troubling Manchester United, the biggest football club in the world.

Manchester United are, this morning, 18 points off the pace in the Premier League.

We're not yet a third of the way through the season, so there is a chance that United, if they carry on like this, will finish the season 50 points or more behind Manchester City or Liverpool.

Now that won't happen. But will United be 35 points, or more, behind the Sky Blues or the Scousers next May?

You've got to say there's every chance of that coming to pass, that's how bad things are at Old Trafford right now.

Of course Alex Ferguson was a wonderful one-off.

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A manager in such a strong position at the club that, at various times in his career, he could force Stretford End heroes such as Paul Ince, Mark Hughes, David Beckham, Jaap Stam and Roy Keane out of the club. And the supporters never batted an eyelid.

Yet it is not hard to think that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hadn't the same standing when it came to Paul Pogba during last summer.

Pogba, or his agent, clearly wanted out of Manchester during July and August.

The club should have said, "right, you can go, but only if we get the valuation we want for you".

Because a player who flutters his eyes elsewhere is useless to a football club. It is only a matter of time before they leave anyway, so get him out as soon as you can. United should have hawked him around Europe's elite clubs, then accepted the highest bid.

In the mood, Pogba can be brilliant.

He can also be downright lazy on a football pitch too and Manchester United supporters would be happy to see the back of him as long as he continues to throw the latter type of performance at them.

Pictures of him on holiday, during the last international break, did not help. I know he was injured, and I know the club gave permission for the break.

But there are ways of having a rejuvenating few days in the sun, without rubbing it in to the fans of your team as they struggle back home.

And pictures of Pogba on a poolside-lilo at any point, during what is already a mess of a season, qualify as 'rubbing it in'.

It's almost as if it was the first salvo in a campaign to leave Manchester United during the January transfer window.

That wouldn't surprise me at all.

Of course, it is not completely down to Ole now, nor those managers who went before him since 2013.

Manchester United's transfer dealings since then have been a mess, and the new, oft-promised, Sporting Director with power over transfers cannot come soon enough.

The club's dealings in the market have been, with a couple of exceptions, a shambles over the last few years.

Ed Woodward may be a top executive when it comes to business dealings with sponsors and club partners etc.

But there have been too many times when Ed has not reeled in the player the manager wanted.

Jose Mourinho, in particular, and Louis van Gaal to a lesser extent, made little secret of their fury with Woodward at times as transfer windows came and went without the player the manager really coveted coming in.

You can't carry on like that on a long-term basis.

It may have taken Liverpool two transfer windows to get Virgil van Dijk – but they got him in the end.

Just as PSG finally bagged Neymar and Real Madrid secured Eden Hazard.

Was Roy Keane throwing out a challenge to Manchester United's hierarchy with his recent 'Get Kane' remark?

It's what Manchester United would have done two decades ago.

Make yourself stronger by signing a top player and weaken a rival by taking one of theirs.

If it was Ferguson sitting there now, saying 'Get Kane' you can be sure the club would deliver on his order. Now?

Online Editors