sport news Inside Man United's mess: Ronaldo is embarrassed, Pogba wants out and fans are ...

sport news Inside Man United's mess: Ronaldo is embarrassed, Pogba wants out and fans are ...
sport news Inside Man United's mess: Ronaldo is embarrassed, Pogba wants out and fans are ...

After Manchester United lost 6-1 at home to neighbours City at Old Trafford 10 years ago, defender Patrice Evra was stopped on his way home by a supporter as he filled his car up with petrol.

'Don't worry,' Evra was told. 'We are still the best team.'

United subsequently won their next five games without conceding a goal and did not lose again in the Premier League until New Year's Eve. In the end, City sneaked the title from their rivals only on goal difference.

A decade on and United are a club awash with introspection once more. Once again the margin at Old Trafford was five goals.

Last Sunday's 5-0 home defeat by Liverpool has been described by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as his darkest moment in the game. This time, the chances of immediate recovery seem remote. That City defeat felt freakish. The Liverpool result did not.

The capitulation at home to Liverpool looked like it had been coming for weeks for Man United

The capitulation at home to Liverpool looked like it had been coming for weeks for Man United

Solskjaer's team have the look of a poor one that's getting worse. On Saturday evening they are at Spurs. Next Saturday it's City - the champions - at home.

It feels ominous and at the club there have been discussions among board members about what to do next. There is no desire to sack Solskjaer. 

'It is still an absolute last ditch, no alternative option,' a source told Sportsmail this week. Nevertheless United are seventh in the table and heading south. As such, possible replacements have been talked about.

Antonio Conte is not a particularly favoured option. The former Chelsea manager has a reputation for being volatile and is expensive. 

United are still reluctant to sack Solskjaer and will only do so in the case of a last resort

United are still reluctant to sack Solskjaer and will only do so in the case of a last resort

One well-placed source explained that United have been burned by their experience with Solskjaer's predecessor Jose Mourinho and do not want a return to those days of festering toxicity.

Sir Alex Ferguson - the last man to bring United a title in 2013 - is supportive of Solskjaer but continues to hanker after former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino and, ideally, United would like a British coach or at least one with Premier League experience.

Someone, for example, like Leicester's Brendan Rodgers. But the Northern Irishman has already turned down Tottenham and Newcastle. Unhelpfully, Rodgers would like the job at City when Pep Guardiola moves on.

So United see no easy way out of their current fix. Conte has not been ruled out.

The Italian is available and interested and, if things continue to slide under Solskjaer, he may yet get the call. But for the moment, and if not necessarily for the right reasons, Solskjaer limps on.

Brendan Rodgers would be a candidate but he has eyes on the City job after Pep Guardiola

Brendan Rodgers would be a candidate but he has eyes on the City job after Pep Guardiola

At 1pm on Friday Solskjaer looked into a Zoom camera for his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday's game. 'I am good,' he said. 'Why should I not be?'

After that came 15 minutes of typical Solskjaer rhetoric. The mood in training had been good, he said. The players must show character and courage.

Unfortunately, it's a routine wearing thin. Within his squad, there remains a will for Solskjaer to succeed. His players like him. Equally, there is no longer a belief that he can take them where they need to go.

Cristiano Ronaldo - the stellar signing of United's summer - is understood to be embarrassed by the team's recent efforts.

Paul Pogba has already decided he does not wish to stay beyond the length of a contract that expires next summer.

Among the United support, meanwhile, there has been an unmistakable drift away from backing Solskjaer.

This week United were able to send two players on a school visit for the first time since the restrictions around the Covid-19 pandemic were relaxed. It was a landmark moment for a club that values the work of its foundation.

Paul Pogba has decided he does not wish to stay beyond his current contract, ending in 2022

Paul Pogba has decided he does not wish to stay beyond his current contract, ending in 2022

Captain Harry Maguire and keeper Tom Heaton went to a school specialising in teaching children with learning difficulties but United's official social media accounts publicised the visit only to find supporters posting abusive

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