“From where Man Utd were – because when he came in they were absolutely rock bottom under Louis van Gaal, the spirit there, everything – and he (Jose Mourinho) picked that up and put trophies on the table and got them back to second in the league. He has made them relevant again” – Neil Custis, Sunday Supplement, August 2018.
‘United had still won three trophies in the five years post Sir Alex Ferguson. Yet there was a feeling their relevance in terms of a title race and at the very top table in Europe had gone’ – Neil Custis, The Sun, March 2019.
If there was ‘a feeling’, you didn’t have it, Neil.
Rip it up and start again…
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirms his Molde contract has been torn up as Norwegian closes in on Man United job full-time after extraordinary PSG win https://t.co/PaC4Q6IOyT
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) March 8, 2019
Alternatively, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has – for the second time this week – confirmed the the rules prohibit him being employed by two clubs at the same time. His contract has not been ‘torn up…after extraordinary PSG win’; it was terminated in December when he took on the interim manager’s job at Manchester United.
File under ‘deliberate obfuscation’.
The Big Reveal
The first time Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said that his Molde contract had been terminated was on Norwegian podcast Fotballklubben. And now that interview has now been re-surfaced by the Daily Mirror website in the wake of United’s remarkable victory over PSG. Their headline?
‘Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reveals text message from Ed Woodward about Man Utd job’
File under ‘deliberate obfuscation but we really don’t expect any better’.
A Bigger Reveal
As usual, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said little of any real interest in his Friday press conference; he’s not there to be interesting, he is there to bang a big red drum, grin and say how happy he is to be managing Manchester United.
So we were a little surprised to see in the Manchester Evening News that he had ‘revealed what profile of player Manchester United should target in transfer window’. It didn’t seem like he had revealed anything at all, and certainly not something to trigger the dream URL of manchester-united-transfer-news-summer.
We had absolutely no idea that saying “hopefully the ones the club will sign will stay for many, many years” has revealed ‘the type of player Manchester United should target’.
Silly, silly Mediawatch.
The camera never lies anymore
Occasionally, Mediawatch reads a headline and thanks the patron saint of really shit new media (is it still ‘new’ media?) and Friday brought one of those moments with this from the Manchester Evening News:
‘The Manchester United moment that should frighten Liverpool FC’
The same Liverpool that 12 points ahead in the Premier League? That Liverpool? Consider us intrigued…
‘Manchester United unveiled their new Holy Trinity on Wednesday night inside the Paris Saint-Germain dressing room. The father, the son and the Holy Spirit.
‘Sir Alex Ferguson, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Eric Cantona were stood side by side clenching their fists and sporting Cheshire Cat grins. It has already been retweeted 56,000 times and must be Manchester’s most viral picture since the Creation of Manchester. Somehow, Twitter did not crash.’
Somehow? Justin Bieber’s last tweet (‘Thank you. #25’) was retweeted 87,000 times and somehow Twitter did not crash.
Oh but we have allowed ourselves to be distracted from the matter in hand – firstly, the use of the words ‘the father, the son and the Holy Spirit’ to describe Sir Alex, Cantona and Solskjaer, and secondly, what the hell has this got to do with Liverpool. We have no choice but to read on…
‘It is difficult to think of three more revered living United figures, greats whose careers were current enough to be remembered by men and millennials; the pioneer, the catalyst and the supersub. Solskjaer was always more than that and in time he might be known as the redeemer.’
Oh wow. Samuel Luckhurst – for of course this is he – is basically comparing Solskjaer to Jesus. And still we are no closer to Liverpool…
‘Solskjaer’s ’20LEGEND’ banner should never have come down at Old Trafford and has to stay up for eternity. There could be a Solskjaer statue in time. Only a select few United players – past and present – are referred to by their Christian names by followers; Eric is one and Ole is another. Ole could be a popular boys’ name in the red districts of Greater Manchester in 2019.’
Surely Ole is referred to as Ole largely because most Mancunians struggle to spell or pronounce Solskjaer? But still, let us not get distracted from the theory that this is a ‘moment that should frighten Liverpool FC’. We must be getting there soon…
‘Just like the Creation capture, there is so much going on in the Parc des Princes photo. It is the first official image of Solskjaer and Ferguson posing together since the apprentice was reunited with his master. Cantona seldom attends United matches, never mind enter the dressing room, and had not been snapped with Solskjaer since Ferguson’s statue unveiling at Old Trafford in 2012.’
Is there ‘so much going on’? Let’s take a look at that image again…
Legends. ✊#MUFC pic.twitter.com/l7x74snTs6
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 6, 2019
Nope. It’s three men with clenched fists. That’s it. And we’re still not sure why this should ‘frighten’ Premier League title challengers Liverpool.
‘What makes it are not the jubilant smiles but the clenched fists. Solskjaer has restored the feel-good factor and the fear factor at United. As if the Parisian comeback were not ominous enough, here was the announcement United are back. Opposition supporters must look at the picture with dread and think, ‘Oh, f**k.’
Sorry, what? A picture of a former manager, a former footballer and the current manager should make opposition fans think ‘oh f**k’? Why? It’s more likely that they will think ‘that’s a nice but pretty much irrelevant picture’. Or are opposition fans famously scared of pictures of middle and old-aged men?
‘Liverpool are having their second stab at winning the league since Ferguson retired and Jurgen Klopp is being mocked up as a ranting Kevin Keegan by the tabloids. Should Liverpool let it slip for the second time in six seasons, they could then have to contend with the United uprising next season.’
Ah, at last, we get to Liverpool. And what a load of bollocks it is. Is this really a piece suggesting that a picture of three Manchester United legends should frighten Liverpool into thinking that they will have to battle United next season? They thought they would have to battle United this season, and that was way before this ‘moment’.
‘United should fear no one in the Champions League last eight. City? This is the opportune moment to face them in a cup tie derby. Liverpool will not have it as easy against United as they did in December. Solskjaer has claimed Tottenham as an away day scalp. Ajax and Porto are not going to intimidate United. Atletico Madrid and Barcelona? As the chant goes, bring on Spaniards by the score.
‘Should Bayern Munich overcome Liverpool and draw United next Friday then Solskjaer should swap his bib for the 1999 final tracksuit top. Dare one say it, but the extraordinary manner of United’s revival in Paris, the Video Assistant Referee’s questionable intervention and Solskjaer’s stirring run – 20 years on from his Treble winner – makes it feel fated. United fans can be forgiven for getting giddy.’
‘It feels fated’. Wow. And all this from a picture. Mediawatch is almost in awe.
‘At the time of writing, Solskjaer is still listed as ‘caretaker manager’. A month ago, it would have been senseless to announce his full-time appointment but a succinct press release confirming his promotion is unlikely to cause the crest of a wave United are riding to crash. Astonishingly, United’s season is no longer about challenging for fourth or derailing Liverpool’s title tilt, but going for an FA Cup and Champions League double.
‘Next season, Solskjaer might aim for a Treble.’
It’s not just Liverpool; we’re all frightened now. Frightened that Luckhurst is going to self-combust and leave Mediawatch in mourning for the greatest of inspirations…
Three men and a baby-faced assassin
‘Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was still a month away from being installed as caretaker manager of Manchester United when he started improving Marcus Rashford’s game,’ is the opening line to a piece in the Daily Mail penned by both Chris Wheeler and Sami Mokbel. Quite why it took two of them to re-write what colleague Simon Jones wrote in January (alone) is anybody’s guess.
Memory jog of the day
‘Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players pulled off a miracle in Paris but let’s not forget the Fergie Factor’ – Mail Online.
Is there any chance of ever forgetting the bloody Fergie factor?
‘MAURICIO POCHETTINO’s two-game touchline ban does appear harsh, especially as serial offenders Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp seem to have got off lightly several times,’ writes Andy Dunn in the Daily Mirror.
‘Blimey, remember when Pep did not even get a suspension for storming on to the field the give an opposition player a talking-to.’
No. Though we do remember when Pep spoke to Nathan Redmond on the pitch after a Manchester City win over Southampton. Here’s how Nathan Redmond described it:
“Yes, he was very passionate, intense and aggressive but he was only very complimentary and positive to me.
“He commented on my qualities as a young English player and how he wanted me to attack his team more during the game in a similar way to last season.
“I told him I was doing what my manager asked me to do in the game. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
“Nothing negative or offensive was said towards me from Pep and that’s what makes him one of the best managers in world football.”
Ban him! He broke the little-known FA rule that states that ‘a manager shall not emotionally and enthusiastically compliment a young player’. Basically, hanging’s too good for him.
Recommended reading of the day
Adam Bate on Mesut Ozil
Barney Ronay on Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer