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Man United chief John Murtough’s verdict on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacking as rumours continue

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Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is fighting to save his job at Old Trafford with his side currently on a run of six defeats from their last 12 matches.

But, in John Murtough, he has a vital ally. At least, if comments made by the Red Devils director earlier in the season are anything to go by.

United went into the season confident of challenging the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool for the Premier League title.

However, after 11 games, the Red Devils are already nine points adrift at the top of the table.

It’s been a nightmare season for United so far, with results going from bad to worse ever since their 2-1 Champions League defeat to Young Boys.

And there’s been plenty of talk about Solskjaer potentially losing his job.

United admire Brendan Rodgers, Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag at the current moment in time, despite the trio being in positions at Leicester, Paris Saint-Germain and Ajax respectively.

Zinedine Zidane is another candidate to take over, after leaving Real Madrid back in the summer, while Ralf Rangnick has been linked as well.

But United don’t seem set to axe Solskjaer just yet.

And Murtough said earlier in the season that the club wouldn’t listen to the noise on social media and elsewhere, with the final decision resting with the board.

“[We] need to keep control, don’t get carried away, don’t deviate from our plan,” he said in September.

“Ole and the staff are very focused on that. We have a long-term strategy and confidence in the direction that we’re going.

“ We believe that we’ve got the talent and the character within the squad to succeed.

“The Premier League is one of the most competitive leagues in the world – players from abroad and other [domestic] leagues tell us how [challenging] it is – but we are 100 per cent up for that.”

United have long insisted they have a long-term plan in place.

And, given Solskjaer has been central to their designs for the future, it explains why they’re so hesitant to wield the axe.

The Norwegian was a popular figure at Old Trafford during his playing days, especially given his heroics in the 1999 Champions League final.

And while United are stuck in a rut, there’s no true indication Solskjaer’s time is coming to an end.

Players, for the most part, like the Norwegian.

And as long as he retains the support of key figures in the dressing room such as Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s feasible the club will continue to stick rather than twist.

United legend Gary Neville, meanwhile, feels his old team need to protect Solskjaer.

“The social media noise is different to the noise in the stadium,” he said.

“They were shouting against Nuno in the Spurs stadium last week; that won’t happen here with Ole at Old Trafford.

“We didn’t hear that with Jose, with Van Gaal, with Moyes, or even with Ron Atkinson 35 years ago.

“The fans here don’t do that, they are respectful of the situation, but this is a train off the track at the moment.

“Last season, people said second in the league is progression, it’s now not progression. That has to change very quickly.

“Against big teams, they look desperately short, and they shouldn’t. That’s where the manager comes under enormous pressure, and questions are asked, and on social media the pressure will be hot, but the contingent on social media are very different to the fans in the stadium itself.

“The contingent on social media don’t have the sympathy, the empathy, the compassion that the fans in the stadium have.

“But the fans walked out towards the end of Saturday’s game, because they knew it wasn’t right.

“The club have not prepared for this, not prepared for a new manager, they didn’t expect it, they thought everything was sort of plain sailing along.

“They’ve planned around a structure of way of working in the last two or three years that they’re not going to veer away from, but in this moment in time they’re going to have to put their helmets on if they’re going to defend it.

“Because the reality of it is it’s nowhere near good enough and you can’t defend it.”

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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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