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In a ground-breaking first in world football, Manchester United have decided that in their pursuit of a replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, they need to employ not one but two interim managers.

First Michael Carrick will stutter through a run of tough fixtures, then someone else – they don’t yet know who, but someone – will take over. Until, that is, a proper guy can be brought in.

There is still six months of the season to go. Yet effectively the United board have written it off, announced that there is no point thinking about how to progress things until it is over.

This, incidentally, is the season in which at its start, after spending over £100 million in the summer on new players, the same crew were telling us the minimum requirement was to win trophies.

read also:Ronaldo outstanding this season, says rival Messi

This is also the season in which several of the players – not least the expensively imported Cristiano Ronaldo, 36, and the old war horse Edinson Cavani, 34 – were looking to achieve a swansong bit of silverware. No longer. Now the ambition expressed in the board’s strategy appears to extend no further than staggering through without too much embarrassment.

How has it come to this? Well, forget the nonsense seeping out from the board’s PR men that they hadn’t yet got a replacement lined up for the Norwegian out of respect for a club hero. This was the bunch who decided to sack Louis van Gaal a few hours after he had won the FA Cup – the idea that they have any respect for anything other than covering their own backsides is laughable.

What makes the double interim approach all the more baffling as a strategy is that there is a manager out there who wants the job now and is a huge upgrade on what they have recently had. Why wait until the summer to appoint Mauricio Pochettino? Pay whatever PSG demand in compensation – and all the indications are that they would not be unhappy to see him depart, with the currently unemployed Zinedine Zidane a more natural fit for the club – bring him in tomorrow and start the rebuild. In football there is never time to waste. Unless, apparently, you are Ed Woodward and his interim-loving chums.

Because the problem with bringing in an interim is that it does not effect any necessary change whatsoever. The structural issues that have proven so inadequate will not be confronted. Solskjaer was a United manager who preferred to manage by committee. He delegated responsibility for training, coaching and tactics to his staff. He saw himself as someone to apply the finishing touch to the system, rather than impose on every aspect of it.


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