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As Ole looks a wally, call Sam?

OPINION: There’s only one man who could come up smiling from Man United’s ongoing struggles

10 October, 2019 — By Richard Osley

IN one of the most audacious pitches for a job in modern times, former England manager Sam Allardyce appeared on the radio this week talking about how the unthinkable could now be considered thinkable: it is possible, listeners were told, that grand old Manchester United could be relegated this season.

“They went down with a terrific team on paper in 1974,” he said. “So it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that they could catastrophically fall into more problems if confidence goes and injuries stay like they are.”

Of course, we all know there is only one man who comes up smiling from a relegation dogfight: sleeves rolled up, gum in, Samuel Allardyce Esq. himself.

He’ll be waiting expectantly by the phone if the United board do lose patience with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s surprised face any time this season.

It should be said, it’s not a great indicator for United’s near future that Solskjaer looks so continuously caught off guard when assessing each dismal United performance.

Eyebrows hitched to the hairline, pupils dilating, that curious Mancwegian accent devoid of any passion, it’s like he’s telling himself that everything will be OK once Scholes, Giggs and Beckham recover full fitness.

We’ve just got to get Cantona back from suspension, he wakes his wife up robotically repeating in the middle of the night.

That’s unfair. In one explanation for United’s shortcomings this season, he reminded the press – with dead-eye certainty – that we are not in the 1990s anymore, which incidentally was a time where you could fail at being a football manager without being subjected to a million internet memes and bad Photoshops relating to your incompetence.

He should never type the words “Solskjaer” and “wheel” into the Twitter search engine.

It was those entitled 1990s years, however, that lie behind the complete absence of sympathy for United’s current plight. At one time, the fawning football press, who allowed themselves to be dictated to by Sir Alex Ferguson over who could and couldn’t ask a pertinent question, seemed to be indulged in football’s greatest love affair with United. When the club won the Champions League final in 1999, it felt like Clive Tyldesley had himself personally “reached the promised land”.

But this mushy romance disguised the fact that most people were not rooting for them in Europe at all. The opposite. United’s lack of humility in their obvious superiority had us supporting anybody but them.

And that’s why every Gary Neville rant about the state of his old club is being cheered as entertainment right now, as is every dark glare by Roy Keane and every Mark Goldbridge YouTube explosion.

Big Sam is just a phone call away.


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