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Sack Solskjaer? Why dumping manager won't change anything at Man Utd

COMMENT: Pick a manager... Allegri, Poch.. any manager. Would any manager be able to get a tune out of this lot at Manchester United...?

With international week comes the sack talk. Partly due to the need to fill the vacuum left by a barren league programme. But also due to the growing belief inside boardrooms that the best time to remove a manager is during such a recess. A chance to regroup and allow the new man to get his feet under the table before the action resumes.

They're already at it in Italy. AC Milan dumping Marco Giampaolo on Tuesday - just three months into his job. And they won the weekend, never mind being beaten at Newcastle United.

But should defeat at St James' Park be the last straw for United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer?

Well, for many - including some United 'exes' - the answer is 'yes'. With the headlines blazing and the place apparently leaking, it only appears a matter of time before the board admit they were wrong and send Solskjaer back to Norway.

Max Allegri has picked up his English lessons again. Mauricio Pochettino is trying to engineer a way out of Tottenham. It's all lining up. Ed Woodward can get rid of Solskjaer and replace him with someone more suited to the job. Or so they say...

Because no matter who is in the dugout, they'll still have to make do with what's available to them. Sunday's team on Tyneside was nothing like what Solskjaer had at his disposal on the opening day for that win over Chelsea. Three of the back four were missing: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw. Paul Pogba was also absent, as was Anthony Martial in attack. Essentially, injury has robbed Solskjaer of almost half his first-choice team. And while critics will argue 'it's a squad game', it really isn't when you're undergoing an overhaul as Solskjaer is now driving through.

With Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez now pulling on an Inter Milan shirt for a living, the attack may be paper thin, but long-term it was the right call to shuffle off both players. Indeed, Lukaku is already finding how things can quickly turn in Italy. His coach at Inter, Antonio Conte, having to defend a sluggish performance from the striker for their defeat to Juventus. It was Lukaku's first big test since his move from United - and it ended with his manager explaining away a lethargic showing.

Of course at United, Lukaku would be getting a game today. But that's not the issue. Solskjaer, with the support of the board, wanted to go in a different direction. And crucially, that support remains.

As mapped out here, the club's top brass have recognised the predicament that has befallen their manager. If results had been the same with Solskjaer's first-choice XI, then serious questions would be asked. But not today. Not with this reality.

Instead, the discussion has been about what's been put in place - and whether it's working. And the consensus is positive.

The youth policy is showing the right signs. The progress of Scott McTominay and the introduction of Axel Tuanzebe have both pleased management. As have the impact of their three summer signings, Daniel James, Harry Maguire and Wan-Bissaka. On what they've seen this season, no-one inside Carrington have doubts about any of these five not being long-term prospects for the club.

Indeed, the only criticism, said in some jest, is that Maguire could be doing better by his manager at the other end of the pitch. Being more decisive with that chance at 1-0 at West Ham, along with a soft free header at Newcastle, and the spotlight wouldn't be so acute on Solskjaer as it is today.

But in the aftermath of that Toon defeat, there were some positives - if we care to consider the long-term.

It was significant that the two leading voices to react to the loss were David de Gea and Marcus Rashford. Both fresh from committing themselves to new contracts, their reactions were of men who have bought into something. They were taking ownership. Not so much for the result, but something far bigger - the project. De Gea, particularly, spoke of someone determined for this plan to succeed - and well aware of his place inside it. Time will tell if a new leadership group is forming, but the signs are that De Gea and Rashford do have the stomach for this fight the club is in.

And it is a fight. Results have the club spiraling. But there are reasons. Reasons the board have accepted. They know, given current circumstances, a change of manager would make little difference.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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