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exclusive Don't be surprised if Solskjaer goes for safety first against Liverpool in a desperate bid to hold on to his job

Ask the fans of United and Liverpool and they will confirm this is the game that matters more than any other

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may choose to adopt a cautious approach against Liverpool

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may choose to adopt a cautious approach against Liverpool

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may choose to adopt a cautious approach against Liverpool

OLE Gunnar Solskjaer dare not get it wrong at Old Trafford today – and that’s why he has to come up with a plan to deal with Liverpool.

I’ve made no secret of my belief that Solskjaer is out of his depth as Manchester United manager and we have seen evidence of this time and again over the course of his near three-year reign in one of the biggest jobs in world football.

He has done well to last this long without winning a trophy, as every time he has got near to one in semi-finals of cup competitions or last season’s Europa League final, he has bottled it.

Solskjaer talks a good game and he is very shrewd when he talks about the good old days under Alex Ferguson, as he knows those comments will win him favour with fans who will never forget what he did for them as a player for United.

Yet it feels like he is running out of lives in this job now and a game against United’s old enemy is the kind of occasion that can break a manager.

Manchester City and Chelsea may have bought their way to the top table of English football with the help of their sugar-daddy owners in recent years, but they will never have the history or tradition that goes with the two genuine superpowers of the Premier League.

Ask the fans of United and Liverpool and they will confirm this is the game that matters more than any other, with decades of rivalry and hatred between the fans adding to the mix today.

The local intensity is matched around the world, as this game will get the biggest global audience of any Premier League match, as they are the two best-supported teams by a mile.The outcome could be hugely significant for the manager sitting in the United dug-out.

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Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes will need to be at their best against Liverpool

Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes will need to be at their best against Liverpool

Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes will need to be at their best against Liverpool

I’ve lost count of the number of times when it feels like Solskjaer was about to get the boot and we had another one of those moments as Atalanta went 2-0 up at Old Trafford in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

On the back of their 4-2 drubbing at Leicester last weekend, another heavy defeat would have pushed Solskjaer to the brink of the sack and possibly over the edge... but Cristiano Ronaldo came to his rescue with a late winner.

Ole’s luck will eventually run out because he needs to deliver this season with a big trophy and I just don’t see it happening, despite having a team loaded with attacking riches beyond his wildest dreams.

Ronaldo’s return has got the United fans all excited, Edinson Cavani is sitting on their bench, Jadon Sancho can’t get a game after his mega-money move last summer and they still have Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial as attacking options.

Then they have to get Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes in the team and clearly, Solskjaer doesn’t know how to keep all these big names happy.

If he was a top level manager with more clout, he could leave big names out and get away with it, but this is a guy who failed at Cardiff City and has only achieved success as a manager with Molde in Norway.

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It’s hardly the CV you expect from a Manchester United manager, but he got the job on his legendary status at the club and has somehow managed to hang onto it for longer than anyone expected.

Now he faces a date with destiny against the best manager in the world, as that’s what Jurgen Klopp has proved himself to be during his time at Liverpool.

While Solskjaer has spent hundreds of millions on new signings and still can’t find a winning formula at United, Klopp has his team humming again and their attacking line is probably the best in the world again now.

Mohamed Salah is on fire, Roberto Firmino has rediscovered his mojo and Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota are wonderful attacking options.

Then the big difference between United and Liverpool comes in midfield, where Jordan Henderson and Fabinho provide a platform for the attacking players to shine.

When I look at the United side in comparison, they don’t have the midfield solidity you need to win matches at the highest level.

Pogba and Fernandes don’t track back and while they started with Fred and Scott McTominay in the Champions League on Wednesday, those two are not a match for Henderson and Fabinho.

So if Solskjaer has any tactical nous (and he hasn’t shown too much evidence that he has any so far!) he should step back from his attacking instincts today and play a sensible game.

Going toe-to-toe with Liverpool could be disastrous for United, as it would play into Klopp’s hands as he has the attacking pace and power to blow opponents away.

So I expect Solskjaer will look at the way Brentford attacked Liverpool and scored three times against them in a thrilling draw a few weeks back.

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Mohamed Salah will have Manchester United's leaky defence in his sights

Mohamed Salah will have Manchester United's leaky defence in his sights

Mohamed Salah will have Manchester United's leaky defence in his sights

By this I don’t mean long-ball football, but clever attacking play that could expose Liverpool’s weak spots and give the home side a chance to get out of this game with a positive result.

Liverpool will tear United apart on the break if they throw too many men forward, so don’t be surprised if we see a conservative United side take to the field at Old Trafford, with two key areas at the forefront of their mind.

I’d expect Marcus Rashford in the wide left role and his job will be to get in behind Trent Alexander-Arnold when he breaks forward.

Trent is a fine attacking player, but opposition teams are looking to put balls into the space he leaves when he makes his attacking bursts and Liverpool might need to have a right-sided midfield player like James Milner to offer extra cover in that position.

The other area United will look to exploit is Liverpool’s high defensive line, with balls over the top a constant concern for Klopp as his defence has been offering up too many chances this season.

I would expect both teams to score today and my bet would be on a draw, but so much depends on how United approach this game.

Solskjaer might struggle to hang on to his job if Liverpool run riot at Old Trafford today, so don’t be surprised to see the United manager deploy safety-first tactics designed to ensure that doesn’t happen.

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