By 90Min
April 30, 2019

Look, this is harsh. 

We all know it's harsh.

But it's a necessary evil.

Manchester United have about thousand problems, and very few of them are Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's fault.

OLI SCARFF/GettyImages

They have no director of football, their defence is terrible, their players look unfit and often uninterested, their talismanic goalkeeper is looking very clown-like and they're probably going to finish outside the top four.

Make no mistake about it, Solskjaer deserved recognition for what he did when he took over at Old Trafford in December, going on a brilliant winning run, playing the way Manchester United should, and helping stage that extraordinary comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last 16.

The United legend was absolutely the right man to give the club the lift it so badly needed, and it was genuinely exciting to see 'the old United' playing again in his caretaker spell.

ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/GettyImages

Former United greats were queuing up to shower the Norwegian in praise as they all asked: "Why hasn't he been given the job yet?" With Rio Ferdinand even declaring "we're back", before giving a smug grin towards the camera following that famous night in the French capital.

But that entire paragraph somehow manages to sum up two of United's biggest and inexorably linked issues in one: they still can't let go of the past, and there is clearly no long-term plan.

The lack of foresight from the board has set them back. It might be harsh to say that after the disastrous Jose Mourinho reign anyone could have picked this squad up and done better. But Ole did it, and he did it with style.

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Since Solskjaer's full time appointment, the Red Devils have gone on a historically bad run of seven defeats in ten, including five successive losses on the road, and that swashbuckling, nothing to lose style has gone.

He used to play for the club, apparently. 

He scored the winner in the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich in the Nou Camp to give United an unprecedented treble. You'd think fans would mention this more really, it seemed quite a big deal at the time.

One person who doesn't seem to forget it is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who can't help himself from referring back to the glory days (there's that problem again), constantly reminding fans that United should play like United and that the players should try really hard because they play for Man United and when you play for Man United the fans expect blah blah blah blah...

Getty Images/GettyImages

There's only so long that stick can actually work for I'm afraid, and he just can't seem to find that balance between cute nostalgia and actually being a manager of a big football club.

A few examples.

Asking Sir Alex Ferguson for help, fine. Not parking in Ferguson's spot in the car park because 'he's still the boss', not fine.

Trying to get the fans on board getting United to play good football while occasionally reminding the fans of just how much he cares, fine. Taking them to their old training ground the day of the Manchester derby and constantly bringing up the time when they actually won things, not fine.

Doing your best to bring through youngsters into a side that desperately needs new players, fine. Playing Ashley Young at full-back? Not. Fine. That has never been a fine thing to do.

Again, to be fair, this is not entirely his fault. The blame needs to lie at the door of chief exec Ed Woodward, who is great at bringing in commercial partners, but his footballing decision making is poor at best.

United's net spend on transfers in the last five years is £484m (according to Transfermarkt), 

compared to Liverpool's at just £193m.

Liverpool have had a strategy and done intense research into the players that they need. They appointed Jurgen Klopp in 2015 with a long term idea in mind, and they now have a team that could still win a Premier League and Champions League double. 

United simply haven't replaced David Gill as a chief exec, someone who knew how to support the manager. But even if they do get a director of football, they still need a squad overhaul.

They're going to need hundreds of millions to convince the top players to come to Old Trafford, and would you honestly trust Solskjaer to be in charge of that money and to rebuild the club into title challengers?

However, there is someone out there to build a long term idea around. Someone who is used to making shrewd signings and developing young players, and someone has had a long term plan to compete in the Premier League and in Europe with his current side.

That someone is Mauricio Pochettino, who United should move heaven and Earth for to get from Spurs.

Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

With Spurs so far away from the top two, talk of star players leaving in the summer, and finally guiding them into their new stadium, Pochettino may feel he has taken this Tottenham side as far as it can possibly go, and may want to challenge himself with a European powerhouse.

Solskjaer absolutely deserves a job for life at Old Trafford, but unfortunately, it shouldn't be as the manager.

It's time United start planning for the future. This isn't going to be an overnight fix, but if anyone can get the club back to the top, Pochettino would be a far  more convincing option than their current boss. 

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