The main reason why Man United still haven’t appointed technical director

Manchester United will not appoint a technical director any time soon because the board feels that the role is partially filled by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Mike Phelan as it is, according to a report.

Ed Woodward initially outlined promises of installing a director at the start of last season, repeating the same message over the summer.

Following a miserable start to the season which has left United hovering two points above the relegation zone, calls for structural change from above have intensified.

According to a report in The Athletic, however, United’s hierarchy believes that Solskjaer and Phelan are already playing that role.

The aforementioned pair have embarked on a three-year project whereby the club’s culture will change and young British players will dominate transfer policy, all of which is fine.

Why, though, does this mean United cannot have a director – a specialist, someone who really knows the business – who can oversee strategy and help with the actual recruitment side of things? Do United not know that knowing the transfer market constitutes a high-profile role in itself.

Either way, do not expect a technical director to arrive any time soon.

Solskjaer considering sending these four first-team youngsters on loan

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is believed to be considering sending out Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong, James Garner and Brandon Williams on loan this January.

The news isn’t exactly a surprise given their need for regular competitive football but it’s a move that only makes sense if the club are investing in the winter transfer window.

It’s safe to say all four could do with loans but Williams and Garner in particular aren’t needed in terms of making up the numbers in the first team squad.

However, Chong and Gomes need to provide cover for an otherwise injury-prone and thin attack which they have done so far.

All four have played in Solskjaer’s reign at one point or the other but loans are needed for the sake of their development.

According to the Mirror, academy player performance manager Les Parry said: “We’ll plan it out and we’ve identified four or five who might be going out in January. Obviously, our first-team manager has a say.

“Angel, Tahith, and James (Garner) could have gone out on loan but he wanted to keep them here and have a look at them on tour. So a decision will be made, no doubt, for January as well. Hopefully, all three will be in the first team and not going anywhere.

“They’ve been presented with an opportunity and they’ve taken the opportunity so now a couple of them are regulars on the team sheet each week. We’ve had opportunities that have cropped up from nowhere. That’s football.

“Hopefully, some of the lads out on loan now will also catch the eye as some have gone out with a perception of their ability and where they’ll end up but hopefully they’ll come back and people will say maybe we’ve got a little diamond.”

It could be argued that Gomes should actually stay and fight for his spot in the starting XI since he’s the most ready but he definitely hasn’t featured as much as he would’ve liked this season.

Some fans have even called on Juan Mata to be sold and Jesse Lingard to be dropped to make way for the young academy product.

After all, the two senior players have failed to impress this season so it isn’t a farfetched suggestion.

Man United’s board would make a massive mistake if this happened

There has been a lot of criticism of Olé Gunnar Solskjaer’s tactics over the last couple of weeks, a lot of criticism of Marcus Rashford and a lot of speculation about getting in a striker in the January window to replace Romelu Lukaku. There have also been suggestions that the board were hasty in sacking José Mourinho. So what I’m about to say may be hugely unpopular, but it needs to be said.

I am crying in tears of pain as I write this, but it needs to be said. The best football team in the world at this moment in time is almost certainly Liverpool FC. There, I said it.

What has that got to do with tactics, Rashford and replacing Lukaku, or with sacking Mourinho? Well, it’s about the modern game, and about the fact that what worked tactically even five or six years ago is no longer relevant today.

Man-for-man, Liverpool are way short of having the best eleven players in the world. What they have is one or two world class players and a winning formula, the right shape for 2019 and the right tactics. The key, I believe, is a fluid, fast and mobile front three, in Sala, Firmino and Mané – incredibly difficult to mark, almost impossible to contain when defending deep or to catch offside when pushing up. Manchester City, arguably the second best team in the world right now, have something similar in a rotating front three comprising the likes of Aguero, Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and, when fit, Leroy Sané. I would argue that City’s front three are slightly less fluid than that of Liverpool, with Aguero (or Jesus) generally “the front man”, but both are nonetheless not your typical, Lukaku-like centre forward – they are still part of a fluid front three, rather than your traditional target man.

This, for me, was Mourinho’s downfall at Manchester United. José was not a proponent of the fluid front three. He was old school. He brought in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and then Lukaku, tall, physically powerful target men who would form the focal point of Manchester United’s attacks. This set up is what brought Mourinho most of his success over the course of his career, with the likes of Didier Drogba and Diego Costa at Chelsea, Samuel Eto’o at Inter and Benzema at Real Madrid. The world’s best defences, even the Premier League’s best defences, have solved the riddle of how to defend against this approach. Football has evolved. The fluid front three is what will bring success these days.

Enter Olé Gunnar Solskjaer. Solskjaer immediately changed Manchester United’s formation and tactics to implement the more modern fluid front three, with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard the trio chosen to play in these roles. As we all know, this brought initial, instant success in the run of 11 unbeaten games that led to Solskjaer’s permanent appointment. During that time, all three players interchanged, one popping up on the left, then the right, then down the middle, one dropping deep, then going forward. If you squinted you could almost see Salah and co. wearing the much cooler red of Manchester United.

The poor run of results that has happened since cannot, in my opinion, be laid at Solskjaer’s door. Lingard’s form has just consistently declined over that period until it has reached the point where Solskjaer has had little option other than to drop him. That coupled with the early season injury to Martial has been a huge blow, and the board’s failure to secure the Dybala – Lukaku swap deal has left the Norwegian with very few other options.

Where City have the six world class players I mentioned above available to fill those three positions, and Liverpool have been lucky in terms of injuries to their chosen three (imagine if, say, Mané’s form at Liverpool had declined as badly as Lingard’s and that Salah had picked up an injury that kept him out for two months), United have no backup, except for Dan James, who needs to learn this new role, and 17-year old Mason Greenwood, who Solskjaer does not want to over-expose too early and is trying to ease into the team over the course of the season.

What’s more, the lack of depth in these positions has meant that the loss of Martial and Lingard to injury and poor form, respectively, has forced Solskjaer into abandoning the fluid front three and playing Rashford as more of a centre forward – a role he is not cut out for, and which has then led to a dip in his form as well.

You could argue that, given the lack of options, United should not have allowed Lukaku to leave, but going back to the big target man approach is not the solution. Despite the crisis, Solskjaer is right to persist with the fluid front three. It seems likely that this type of forward player will be bought in January to swell the ranks. Current media speculation revolves around Lyon’s Moussa Dembélé, but he, again, is perhaps more of a target man. Expect instead another pacy, lively and creative forward who can play across the front three and who will fit into the fluid front three system.

Such a signing, coupled with a run of fitness for Martial and the ongoing development of James and Greenwood, will take the pressure off Rashford and allow him to recapture his best form.

Things might look dire now, but this is what Solskjaer is trying to build and it would be unbelievably self-destructive of the board to lose faith in that project now.

Redknapp feels Pochettino may need fresh start but expects him to stay at Spurs

Former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp feels Mauricio Pochettino may benefit from a move elsewhere, but he expects him to stay and turn around their poor start to the season.

Ferdinand explains why sacking Solskjaer would be a disaster for Man Utd

Manchester United great Rio Ferdinand has sent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a message of support as pressure increases on the club’s board to sack the manager.

The legendary Norwegian’s side currently sit in 12th place and will potentially fall into the relegation zone should they lose to Liverpool, who they face next.

Solskjaer has invested wisely over the summer but obviously hasn’t signed enough players, for whichever reasons, to bolster an otherwise thin squad.

That lack of depth has come to show of late with United’s stars struggling to remain fit and Ferdinand insists the former striker needs to be given more transfer windows before being judged.

Whether Solskjaer keeps his job long enough to get his chance to reshuffle the pack or not remains to be seen.

According to talkSPORT, Ferdinand said: “There’s no way the club would have thought this would be rosy straight away, they’re not naive enough to think that it was going to be a situation where he just changes it overnight.

“This is definitely something where there is going to be early pain, there is going to be a situation where the results are not going to go our way, especially with the new recruitment that they’ve started to go with younger players.

“That’s why I don’t see there being a change straight away, I’d be very surprised if I wake up, open a paper or an app and see that he has gone so quickly.

“I don’t think this is the time for knee-jerk reactions. When you’re giving someone millions of pounds to spend money on to affect the squad, it doesn’t seem right to change that right away.

“It’s just throwing another regime out of the window and starting again and that’s happened far too often in recent years at United because of results and what not.

“There’s been a change in the recruitment, where they’ve brought young, British players into the club, which is a shift from previous years.

“Time is not something that is afforded to many people in the game, but Ole probably needs another window to get more people in, shuffle the pack and get more out.

“It’s only then you can really start to judge him in my opinion.”

Most Manchester United fans still believe in Solskjaer and don’t want him to be sacked but the truth is if results don’t change, there’s no doubt he will lose his job.

Long-term vision or not, the club can’t afford to end the season out of the European qualifications spots and the truth is the squad is good enough to achieve those positions.

A top four spot may not be achievable according to some fans but certainly anything out of the Europa League spots would be unacceptable regardless of whatever plans were in place.

How Man Utd made massive mistake when selling this high-profile player: report

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had reportedly resolved to dispense with Romelu Lukaku before the end of last season.

The Belgian, who fell out of contention under the Norwegian during the 2018-19 campaign, joined Inter Milan for a fee of £72m on deadline day.

Many have expressed anger at the club for failing to secure replacements for either Lukaku or Alexis Sanchez, who also moved to the San Siro on loan.

According to The Athletic‘s David Ornstein, Solskjaer had already decided to let Lukaku go in May and wanted a replacement ready by the start of pre-season.

United’s lack of options going forward is so blatant that only some monumental failure of organisation and planning could have been behind it.

Solskjaer would have obviously wanted a replacement, but the club could not locate a suitable one. One can only infer that something about the decision-making apparatus at the higher echelons at the club is fundamentally broken, or just not thinking in the right way at all.

Solskjaer’s blueprint revealed, will make eight strategic signings over two years: report

Manchester United will reportedly make up to eight signings over the next two summer windows with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s three year plan in full effect.

The legendary Norwegian has been under immense pressure of late with some reports claiming he’ll be sacked if his side suffer a heavy loss against Liverpool.

United have moved to end those reports and it appears they’ll prove their support for Solskjaer by bringing in eight fresh faces over the course of the next two years.

The board have always acknowledged the former striker’s job will be a long-term one but their loyalty to this vision is currently being tested.

It will be interesting to see how long they stick with Solskjaer regardless of the pressure from fans.

After all, the Manchester United board have previously backed Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho even close to their last days only to stab them in their backs.

Time will tell how Solskjaer’s reign will end but for the time being he needs to find a way to get his squad performing how they were at the start of his reign.

United played their most attractive football to date since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement and they’ll have to hit the same heights to turn their season around.