Manchester United defeat shows Solskjaer isn’t the only problem

Or, perhaps, it would be the fury and frustration that should have seen Cristiano Ronaldo sent off to go after Liverpool’s Curtis Jones at the end of the first half, and finally saw Paul Pogba – just minutes away after his introduction as a replacement – fired for a wild and reckless challenge on Naby Keita.

Both were, more than anything, an expression of United’s utter helplessness, an abdication of control rooted in the embarrassment inflicted on Solskjaer’s players. They were powerless to match Liverpool. They couldn’t stop Keita, Salah and Roberto Firmino, in particular, who cut them at will. They had lost the game, so they lost their temper.

It was Solskjaer who paid the price, of course. It was Solskjaer who must have stood there on the sideline with his head tilted very slightly as Liverpool fans sang and laughed and with cruel and obvious irony called on his name.

It was Solskjaer who had to answer the questions at the end, who had to conjure up every possible explanation, who had to give an instant and recorded deposition for what will, in large part, be an investigation into his own continuing viability. And it is Solskjaer who will be rejected, in some circles, as a simple leader of the great act of homage to Manchester United, a sort of glorified mascot for a club whose economic model is based on the trafficking of ancient glories.

It’s like that, like it always has been, but that doesn’t have to mask the fact that he’s not the only one to blame. The main difference between United and Liverpool is not just in the quality of their coaches – Solskjaer, obtained his post on the basis of his playing career, and Klopp, who earned it thanks to what he achieved in as a coach – but in the coherence of their structures.

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