OLIVER HOLT: Man United will be stuck thinking failure will be tolerated until the Glazers go

0

In the wake of Manchester United’s defeat in the Europa League final in Gdansk last Wednesday night, many identified the gloom that had suddenly descended on the club’s prospects as a sign of how fickle fans can be, saying as David de Gea only saved one. Villarreal penalty, United’s triumph would have been hailed as a clear sign that the club was on the brink of a new era of greatness.

But De Gea did not spare a penalty. And United did not lift the trophy. And there is no point in speculating about counterfactual situations. And if my aunt had. . . And yes, sometimes the judgment of a club or a manager or a player can seem fickle. But the history of clubs can depend on isolated moments that either create momentum or create doubt. Just ask Sir Alex Ferguson, who watched from the stands in Poland, and Mark Robins.

It wasn’t just United’s way back from the Gdansk prize that was so discouraging. It wasn’t just the way United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer didn’t take the opportunity. There’s a broader context here too: the disastrous attempt to form the European Super League once again drew attention to the fact that under the weight of Glazer family ownership, United is a club trying to roll up a stone.

Manchester United may have been close to a trophy, but they ultimately failed to grab the prize in their Europa League final defeat to Villarreal.

Victory in Poland would have been a vote of confidence in Solskjaer, who is yet to win a trophy in his time in charge at Old Trafford. It would have given him the legitimacy his critics still deny. It would have been a symbol of progress and growth. It would have been another indication that the manager turned United after Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho took them back.

None of those things apply now. Instead, there are just questions. Many questions. Why did Solskjaer only feel able to turn on his bench after an extension? What does that say about the strength of his team?

Why did so many great players disappear on the big occasion? What does that say about their hunger? What does that say about their ability? If United can’t beat Spain’s seventh-best team, is it realistic to think they can dethrone Manchester City next season?

Had David de Gea saved one penalty, United's triumph would have been hailed as a new era of greatness, but he didn't

Had David de Gea saved one penalty, United’s triumph would have been hailed as a new era of greatness, but he didn’t

United's great players shrinking on the big occasion were disheartening as they passed the glory

United’s great players shrinking on the big occasion were disheartening as they passed the glory

I don’t think it is realistic. I don’t think United will get closer to City than this season. I’m also not sure if they’ll even be City’s biggest challengers next season. Liverpool will not be as exhausted from injuries as this season. Chelsea is on an upward trajectory. My best guess is that United will finish in last place in the Champions League.

I hope I’m wrong because I think Solskjaer did a good job at Old Trafford. I think – how can I best say this – he was necessary. After the upheavals and misfortune of the government of Van Gaal and Mourinho, the men of yesterday, United desperately needed some stability and some recovery time. Solskjaer has made sure of that. He has restored it morally. He has given United fans back their pride.

But I think he’s done his job now. He repaired the damage. He has taken the club as far as possible. He is said to be offered a new three-year deal soon, but that feels like a mistake. It feels like he has now hit his ceiling, partly because the Glazers seem reluctant to support him properly in the transfer market.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has stabilized United, but he has taken the club as far as possible

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has stabilized United, but he has taken the club as far as possible

If the Glazers had any ambition, they would fire the Norwegian in an attempt to get more silverware

If the Glazers had any ambition, they would fire the Norwegian in an attempt to get more silverware

Once, not long ago, United is said to have noticed Harry Kane’s dissatisfaction with Spurs and made him sign their statement this summer. Kane would make a big difference to United.

They also have yet to sign a top-tier center-back and a right-wing midfielder, but Kane would be a step in the right direction to make them title challenger. However, there is little confidence that United will make a concerted effort to sign him.

Think about the difference between the level that United operates compared to Manchester City. Edinson Cavani exudes class, just like Sergio Aguero.

Cavani is 34, Aguero will be 33 this week. Both are coming to the end of their careers. United increasingly relies on Cavani and begged him to stay for another year. The city has shown Aguero the door. United are still ruled by short-term thinking. By papering the cracks. Think city differently.

But as long as the Americans stay, United will always have the mindset that failure is normal

But as long as the Americans stay, United will always have the mindset that failure is normal

Solskjaer is hampered by the essential lack of ambition coming from the top, but he is also the beneficiary.

If the Glazers were ambitious, if they were driven by the desire to win the biggest trophies in the game, they would see that Solskjaer did well and would express their gratitude to him and choose this moment to make the tough decision. take. to designate someone who can take them to the next level, the level where they start winning the big trophies again.

But it’s not about glory for the Glazers. It never has been and never will be. Until the club gets rid of them, they will be stuck in a holding pattern where mediocrity is tolerated, failure normalized, criticism disallowed, and second place in the Europa League rearranged to seventh best team in Spain. of triumph.

Will Southgate stay with Sterling?

When Gareth Southgate names his last England squad this week, we’ll get more clues about his thinking.

But once speculation as to whether or not Trent Alexander-Arnold is included in the 26 has ended, attention will quickly shift to which players will make Southgate’s starting line-up for England’s opening match against Croatia.

Southgate’s recent predecessors on the track tend to make their team picks on reputation rather than form, no matter how much they have protested to the contrary.

Gareth Southgate is unafraid to make big decisions and faces a huge decision over Raheem Sterling

Gareth Southgate is unafraid to make big decisions and faces a huge decision over Raheem Sterling

As this tournament approaches, the form would dictate that neither Raheem Sterling, who had dropped out of Manchester City’s first pick before Saturday night at the start of XI, nor Marcus Rashford, who is playing through pain and had a miserable night in Gdansk, would be selected in the match. first team.

Southgate isn’t afraid to make difficult, sometimes unpopular choices, as his treatment of Alexander-Arnold shows. However, Sterling and Rashford have always been two of his staunch henchmen. Whether he sticks to one – or both – could be the most important decision in the English tournament.

Bitter duo is exactly what golf needs

The leaked television footage of Brooks Koepka expressing his disdain for Bryson DeChambeau after the final round of the PGA Championship last week went viral, partly because it was funny to witness the depths of Koepka’s disdain for his rival and partly because it was so unusual in these carefully manicured times to see athletes – except Nick Kyrgios – ready to be openly critical of an opponent.

DeChambeau’s emergence as a major winner and leading contender can only be good for golf as his idiosyncrasies, as well as his talent, add color and variety to a sport often accused of being black and white.

We can only hope that American Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker will try to do what one of his predecessors, Hal Sutton, did with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in Oakland Hills in 2004 and put them in the first foursomes of Whistling. Straits would mate in September. Now that would be the box office.

The argument between Brooks Koepka (L) and Bryson DeChambeau (R) is great for golf as a whole

The argument between Brooks Koepka (L) and Bryson DeChambeau (R) is great for golf as a whole

.