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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer out of excuses as Man United manager has two huge problems to solve

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s demeanour has visibly changed over the past month as the pressure of being Manchester United’s manager during a tricky period has mounted.

Normally a bright-eyed man with an affable personality, Solskjaer has taken on a more spiky and weary mood in interviews which tells you a lot about his recent struggles.

Expectations at Old Trafford are high and recently Solskjaer has not been meeting them.

Two wins from the past six matches. No clean sheet in the last seven and just one all season. Knocked out of the Carabao Cup at the first hurdle.

An international break gives time to pause and reflect on what has transpired so far. Given he is safe in his job for now, Solskjaer should use this time to look back on how he has dealt with recent problems.

If he has an ounce of self-awareness then he will see that he has not come across well. There have been far too many excuses made by the Norwegian over the past month.

Solskjaer has the resources at his disposal to work constructively to try and solve the issues that have arisen.

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After all, the club splashed out to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane over the summer transfer window.

Yet if you just listened to Solskjaer’s take on things then you would think United are one of the most unfortunate and disadvantaged sides in the league.

The 2-1 defeat by Young Boys in the Champions League was largely a result of Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s ill discipline in being sent off and Jesse Lingard’s sloppiness in gifting the winner from a poor back-pass.

Solskjaer tried to turn the focus elsewhere, moaning about referee François Letexier, who did not send off Young Boys’ Mohamed Ali Camara and give a penalty for a challenge on Ronaldo.

“He shoves him with his arm and it’s clear he’s one on one with the keeper. He’s in front of him,” Solskjaer said.

“But probably didn’t dare do it because he had to send him off then so it would have been difficult. That’s sometimes what you get with young refs.”

The 1-0 defeat by West Ham in the Carabao Cup was brushed off as unlucky. We were told it was all about getting minutes into fringe players, who will benefit from the game, despite the result which saw another chance of a first trophy since 2017 disappear.

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Solskjaer said: “Some of them will definitely come out stronger for it because they’ve now got 90 minutes under the belt and are ready for the league and the Champions League, and the FA Cup when that starts.”

Next came the 1-0 loss against Aston Villa. That was put down to an “obvious” offside in the build-up to Villa’s goal and the away side’s behaviour while Bruno Fernandes was preparing to take the late penalty, which he smashed way over the crossbar.

A very fortunate 2-1 win over Villarreal in the Champions League came next, thanks to Ronaldo’s 95th-minute winner, giving Solskjaer a good excuse to bring out his favourite talking point.

But the Everton draw once again exposed United’s severe limitations. Limitations which arguably stem from their manager.

United dominated possession yet could not make the most of it with Ronaldo starting on the bench. With an attack which boasts both quality and depth there is little excuse for their profligacy in front of goal and lack of killer instinct.

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Similarly, the issues at the other end are nothing new. United have long possessed a soft underbelly, with the holding midfield position becoming a bit of a laughing stock.

Everton’s flowing counter-attack, which was finished by Andros Townsend, told you all about the home team’s struggles in defensive transitions.

While their rivals are well-drilled and tactically switched on, with Fabinho at Liverpool and Rodri at Man City taking charge, United look disorganised and frenetic in broken play.

“We’ve got loads to work on and we need to improve, we know that and I know that,” Solskjaer said on Saturday in a rare piece of self-awareness. “But I do believe in this group of players and the coaching staff that I’ve got.”

Solskjaer is experienced enough to know what the problems are, despite his recent use of deflection tactics in the media. The question now is whether he is good enough to solve them.

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Report: Arsenal now really Keen to sign ‘Astonishing’ attacker who scored more goals than Gabriel Jesus last season

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According to But Football Club, Arsenal want to sign Bayer Leverkusen and France winger Moussa Diaby before the transfer window shuts.

The Gunners are looking for a new wide player. Raphinha was high on their wish list and Mikel Arteta tried really hard to bring him in. The Brazilian, however, joined Barcelona for £55 million (Sky Sports) instead, and Arsenal have now apparently turned their attention to Diaby.

Arsenal really keen to sign Moussa Diaby from Bayer Leverkusen

Diaby is one of the finest players in the Bundesliga.

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The 23-year-old France international scored 17 goals and provided 14 assists in all competitions, which is a truly sensational return for a wide player.

His performances have caught the eye of a number of clubs, including Arteta’s Arsenal. The report claims that Diaby ‘strongly appeals’ to the Gunners boss, who is really keen to bring in a new winger before the window shuts.

The ‘astonishing‘ winger has come out and claimed that he wants to stay at Leverkusen this season, while the German outfit are keen to retain his services too.

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However, the report claims that if an offer in the region of £59.2 million arrives, they will let him go.

Arsenal don’t intend to pay that figure, but the report claims they will try to negotiate a deal for a lower fee.

Diaby still has three years left on his contract at Leverkusen.

Diaby really is a sensational player.

31 goal involvements in a single campaign for a 23-year-old wide player is a truly sensational return.

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Even Gabriel Jesus, who is viewed as the answer to Arsenal’s goalscoring woes, didn’t score as many goals as Frenchman last season.

Arsenal’s backup winger at the moment is Nicolas Pepe. The Ivorian, on his day, is unplayable, but sadly for Arsenal supporters, those days have rarely ever occurred over the last three years.

Diaby would be a massive upgrade over Pepe, but whether Arsenal can lure him in remains to be seen.

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Report: Star ready to join Man United now wants £33.7million contract

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The latest reports in the media are anything to go by and Adrien Rabiot’s mother-agent, Veronique, is proving to be a difficult negotiator.

Last night, we covered a story (via La Gazzetta Dello Sport) claiming that the French international has demanded a three-year deal worth £25.4million to move to Old Trafford.

This morning, as per Corriere dello Sport (news image provided below), the Red Devils have agreed a fee worth 17-18 million euros with Juventus but the dilemma is that the agreement with the player is still missing.

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Ten Hag contacted Rabiot to convince him to join Man Utd which is why the midfielder became willing to negotiate personal terms.

However, Veronique now wants a four-year contract worth 40 million euros (£33.7million) for his son and the negotiations have slowed down.

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Manchester United’s midfield department is in desperate need of reinforcements and Ten Hag may end up losing out on signing Frenkie de Jong to Chelsea.

The last big signing for the central midfield was done back in 2018 when Mourinho splashed the cash to lure Fred from Shakhtar. The Red Devils must act fast to strengthen things in the center of the park.

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Rabiot is neither as creative as Pogba nor as versatile as De Jong. However, he has experience of winning big titles with PSG and Juventus and even with France. So, in all fairness, he would be an upgrade to McFred.

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Man United pushing for Pogba replacement in more ways than one

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Manchester United may be about to take on another troublesome Frenchman, having just gotten rid of one.

The departures of Paul Pogba and others this summer have left new manager Erik ten Hag with a bare cupboard in terms of midfield options.

United have turned to Juventus outcast Adrien Rabiot, who is available for £15 million, after failing to secure Frenkie de Jong, the Ten Hag’s top transfer target, from Barcelona.

Rabiot, 27, isn’t particularly popular at Juventus and hasn’t replicated the form that established his reputation during the seven years he spent at PSG before that.

But it isn’t just on-field sluggishness that has harmed the reputation of a player who was once regarded as France’s golden boy.

Off-field squabbles and indiscretions, not only by Rabiot but also by his formidable mother and agent Veronique, have earned him a reputation as a difficult customer in the game.

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However, Ten Hag and United are becoming increasingly desperate. Despite the club’s insistence that their interest in Rabiot was firm prior to Sunday’s season-opening loss to Brighton, the timing appears to be a reactionary move.

And Rabiot’s rap sheet contains numerous items that could cause United to live to regret their decision.

Rabiot was on the verge of breaking into the PSG senior squad after graduating from their academy in 2012.

Rabiot was supposed to travel to Qatar with the team for a mid-season tour, but his mother insisted on accompanying him.

Veronique, Rabiot’s uncompromising agent, enters the picture. After his father, Michel Provost, suffered a stroke in 2007 that left him with locked-in syndrome, she took over his career. Michel is paralysed but fully aware.

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Her insistence on accompanying the tour caused friction, and Rabiot was eventually loaned out to Toulouse.

Even stranger, she allegedly insisted on attending all of their training sessions while there.

Two years later, Rabiot was on the verge of leaving PSG after Laurent Blanc demoted him to the reserves.

Veronique was waiting for Blanc as he left PSG’s Camp des Loges training facility one evening.

‘You can’t treat him like that. ‘I’m not going to agree to that,’ Blanc was told, presumably forcefully.

PSG had no choice but to call in security, but the confrontation appeared to work.

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Rabiot’s contract with PSG was renewed – and on better terms – not long after he failed to secure a move to Roma.

France’s hopes of adding the European Championship to their World Cup glory last year ended when they lost on penalties to Switzerland in the last-16.

Afterwards, an extraordinary video emerged of Veronique confronting Mbappe’s father, Wilfried, after the PSG striker missed the decisive spot-kick.

It is thought she said: ‘It is embarrassing how he struck that, for a player of his level. He hit it too lightly, I hope you are going to scold him.’

Apparently during an earlier discussion, Veronique told Wilfried his son was ‘arrogant’, has a ‘big head’ and gets ‘too much protection from the press.’

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