Man Utd started like amateurs – and now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must prove himself

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The debate is raging about which win in Paris was the best for Manchester United.

The one in 2019, or this week's version? – Tough call, but never mind that.

The conversation United supporters should be having is, which version of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 's side will show up at Old Trafford on Saturday when Chelsea come to town?

Will it be the one that performed like a hungover pub team in the 6-1 tonking from Tottenham, or the one that outthought, outfought and outclassed a strong Paris Saint Germain outfit in the Parc des Princes?

The truth is we don't know. No-one does – and I include manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in this.

What we do know is that one night of perfection in Paris has got Solskjaer smiling again because the pressure on him has eased, while the likes of Axel Tuanzebe claim United remain one of the big boys of world football who can go on and win the Champions League this season.

Slow down. We've been here before under Solskjaer, remember?

United have made statements of intent with big wins over illustrious opponents, only to fail to capitalise on them in subsequent games.

After beating PSG 3-1 away in 2019 to reach the last eight of the Champions League, Ollie "was at the wheel" and he got the job on a permanent basis.

Then those wheels fell off. United lost their next two games and won just two of their remaining 12 fixtures that season. At the start of last season United thumped the tomorrow's opponents 4-0, then lost at home to Crystal Palace.

United started this season like amateurs, but have now walloped Newcastle and beaten a PSG side boasting Neymar and Kylian Mbappe on their own turf. You have to admire how consistently inconsistent United have become.

Let's not get carried away, because winning is an obligation for a club the size of United and Solskjaer still has it all to prove if he wants to show people he is the right man to lead them back to the top of English football.

He needs to remain strong in his convictions, because there will be more bumps in the road. Like having to deal with an increasingly frustrated Paul Pogba, or explaining to the world why he's spent £40m on Holland international Donny van de Beek, but cannot find room for him in a midfield now missing Pogba?

Or mending the troubled mind of Harry Maguire following the lowest weeks of his career, or managing a tearaway like Mason Greenwood, who has all the talent in the world, but perhaps not the brains to realise it. Telling the truth about why he left the teenager out of his last two squads might be a start.

Or getting Marcus Rashford to be as consistently brilliant on the field as he is off it.

Solskjaer has developed this remarkable knack of engineering seismic results just when he needs them, but beating PSG should be expected, not celebrated like the surprise result it was.

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Some might argue this is a gift. Others will say he's downright lucky, but the truth is that winning the odd game to make the world sit up and take notice is nowhere near acceptable for someone in Solskjaer's shoes.

Ultimately a manager should be judged on how much he has improved those under his leadership – and there are still far too many at United with a lot of work to do.

Can the real Manchester United please stand up? It remains to be seen, but Solskjaer's job is to make sure this happens.

Arsenal and Ozil need their heads banging together

Whatever side you're on, the sight of a club supposedly steeped in class and a world superstar like Ozil airing their dirty linen in public is like two neighbours rowing over who is going to pay for the new garden fence.

The latest punches were thrown this week when Gunners boss Mikel Arteta axed Ozil from his post transfer window Premier League squad.

Ozil responded with a statement on social media, insisting he was "deeply disappointed" and that "loyalty was hard to come by these days".

Do me a favour. Ozil might think he's an exception to the rule, but a footballer banging on about loyalty? He must think we were born yesterday.

As for the Gunners, can someone explain to me the point in spending £42m and £350,000-a-week in wages on someone, only to then ostracise them in a blatant act of one upmanship to put him in his place, for the simple reason he had the temerity to stick up for something he believed in?

  • Manchester United FC
  • Premier League
  • Chelsea FC
  • Champions League
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
  • Harry Maguire

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