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Eight Man United stars who got worse under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Cristiano Ronaldo call costly

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In time, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be remembered for that goal again and, for a decent man whose love for Manchester United always shone brightly, that seems about right.

There was certainly no joy in seeing him as a lightning rod for fans’ anger, or comfort in watching this unfailingly polite man crushed and exposed time and time again.

But as a manager his three years at the helm of the most powerful club in the world will go down as a failure for all the positive spin United’s board tried to put on it after sacking him yesterday.

Solskjaer restored pride to the club after the toxicity of Jose Mourinho and there were some notable nights on his watch. It has not been a dull three years.

But he never had a strong enough idea of how he wanted his team to play or the authority to challenge a board who continue to make bafflingly bad footballing decisions.

His signings have been hit and miss, but the more damning charge is that good players have gone backwards under him.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire, Donny van de Beek, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Fred and possibly even Mason Greenwood. The list goes on.

Solskjaer may look back and believe his biggest mistake was to accept the imposition of Cristiano Ronaldo, whose arrival upset pre-season planning with regard to Edinson Cavani and put his best player last season, Bruno Fernandes, in the shade.

Yet if that arrival can be pinpointed as the moment things started to unravel the board and Ed Woodward must take their share of blame.

Indeed, it is a good job the departing executive vice-chairman is good at the commercial side of things because his decisions on footballing matters have been nothing short of disastrous.

Just three months ago Woodward gave Solskjaer a new contract like he had done with Mourinho before reaching for the axe – a decision which resulted in a £19.6million pay-off.

The money has flowed in and rushed out at United with a near £400m spend on their current squad including £133m this summer – the second most expensive ever assembled.

And Solskjaer never demanded a quality midfielder, Jude Bellingham slipping through his fingers to go to Germany and Declan Rice staying at West Ham.

A midfield built from parts including Scott McTominay, Fred, Nemanja Matic, Pogba and Juan Mata was never strong enough to compete with the best.

If Solskjaer has been let down by a set of players lately there is a sense they have just grown tired of having to bale him out.

In his time there have been 19 occasions when they have come from behind to win starting with Southampton in March 2019 and most recently when scorching back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 against Atalanta.

After the first of those Solskjaer said it was “just like the old days” but the adrenaline-fuelled nostalgia trip was unsustainable long term finally running out of track.

Solskjaer’s devotion to Sir Alex Ferguson appeared to dictate his approach to hands-off coaching and also smother chance of a methodology of his own emerging.

Where Thomas Tuchel, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have imposed their style on a dressing room, it is still hard to put your finger on what the Solskjaer model is three years on.

Defeats against Liverpool, Manchester City and Watford certainly showed what it had become – performances devoid of spirit, organisation and effort. And for that a good man had to go.

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Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

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Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club

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Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Confirmed: Chelsea ready to make late bid to hijack another Arsenal transfer

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Chelsea will make a late attempt to scupper Arsenal’s hopes of finally signing Mikhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners have submitted their third bid for the Ukraine international winger and hope an offer of £62m before add-ons, which take the deal closer to £70m, will be enough to break the deadlock between the two clubs.

Chelsea’s interest in the 21-year-old winger was earlier this week described only as ‘exploratory’ but ESPN now claim that Todd Boehly will test the waters and attempt to throw a spanner in the works for the Premier League leaders.

Shakhtar’s technical director Darijo Srna was pictured at Stamford Bridge last week as he watched Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City and Boehly would have little issue with meeting an asking price which is closer to £88million.

Arsenal are said to be confident that their latest bid for Mudryk will be enough to finally secure the services of their No.1 January target, but have already been beaten to the punch once this month by their west London rivals.

Chelsea won the race to sign Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid amid competition from Arsenal and Manchester United, but the Portugal international’s promising debut ended in devastating fashion when he was sent off just shy of the hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete.

Felix will now miss the next three games through suspension as the problems mount for Chelsea’s under-fire manager Graham Potter.

‘It sums up where we are at the moment – everything that can go wrong, is going wrong,’ Potter said after Chelsea’s 2-1 west London derby defeat.

‘It was a forward’s tackle from Joao, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red. It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment.

‘He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us because he was looking dangerous throughout.

‘I don’t think there was too much malice in it and it is an unfortunate action and we are going to lose him now for three games.’

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