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exclusive It kills me to even think it, but United are awful right now and are just going through the motions

Solskjaer's players seem drained of passion, of fire, of desire.

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Manchester United are playing like they just want the season to end right now

Manchester United are playing like they just want the season to end right now

Manchester United are playing like they just want the season to end right now

I FELL asleep in my chair the other night watching Manchester United labour to do anything in a scoreless draw against Crystal Palace.

So don’t you just know that today’s Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium will end 4-3 to someone.

But will it really? You have to say no, because Manchester United are just awful at the moment.

I have to predict, logically, the game will finish with a comfortable win for Manchester City as they surge to another Premier League title and the Champions’ League success they crave.

Instead of thinking such lofty thoughts, it is as if Unted’s heroes are just trying to get every game played so that they can all move on, finish the season, and hasten the day when supporters return.

It kills me to even think it, that players at the club I was so proud to play for, are just going through the motions.

But that’s sure what it looks like from the outside as a club with oodles of attacking talent churns out one 0-0 draw after another, hardly making a goal chance along the way.

The United players seem drained of passion, of fire, of desire.

They shouldn’t be that way, for they are fortunate to be earning a lot of money when many others are not so lucky as we fight the coronavirus.

Instead we saw a forward line against Crystal Palace that was a shadow of what a vibrant Manchester United attack should be.

It was lacking in confidence and in verve and no matter what changes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made, there was not a spark in sight.

Indeed there were times when Palace, who have won just four home matches since football came back last July, looked the better side and the more likely one to score a goal.

If a derby against their neighbours, riding high at the top of the Premier League, cannot get the team going today, then what can?

In a way it is good to have this game now, it has to concentrate the minds of the Manchester United players.

More than most teams, United are suffering from not playing in front of 76,000 fans every second week.

From the support of their own, to the ire of the away supporters, United look like a team missing the juices that come with big time sport.

That’s all the fans are asking for now, a bit of drive and determination.

They are not asking the club to compete with a high-flying Manchester City. Yet it is not happening as Manchester United just seem to go through the motions in game after game.

United are passing the ball around at the back to no great purpose. They are still missing a quality midfielder to drive them forward.

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Pep Guardiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer go head to head

Pep Guardiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer go head to head

Pep Guardiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer go head to head

And if Bruno Fernandes or Marcus Rashford cannot come up with a bit of individual magic, where are the goals coming from?

There’s none of the team drive of the Ferguson era, none of the individual brilliance.

But then, Manchester United are not alone in struggling to play decent football in this strange season.

It’s got to the stage where I only enjoy watching three teams – Manchester City, because you know they are going to play well, attack and score goals

I also love learning that Leeds or Wolves are coming on the telly, since they are two teams who go out to have a go and are not afraid to lose.

To me, the Red Devils are playing like a team that is afraid to go and try to win a match for the fear of losing it.

That is not the way the club’s traditions demand that their team play the game. It’s a sad indictment on the standard of the 2020/21 Premier League that Manchester United can sit such a comfortable second in the table and seemingly cruising towards a Champions’ League place as other clubs flounder behind them.

Liverpool, after a great start, collapsed in the middle of the season as an unlucky run of injuries caught up with them.

Spurs and Arsenal have been very poor this campaign and Chelsea fired their manager as they struggled to make an impact.

Yes, United are the best of a bad bunch of chasers.

The best of the whole bunch are certainly the magnificent Sky Blues of City.

After a bit of a stuttering start, that may have been down to a hangover after yet another early Champions’ League exit as last season finally finished, Pep Guardiola’s team found their form – and how!

It’s now 21 wins on the spin and they are on track for a four-timer that would eclipse United’s Treble of 1999 by adding the Carabao Cup too.

Can they do it? Yes, they certainly can. Europe may again prove the hard bit, but in England Manchester City are a class apart, both as a unit and a team.

Remember that Sergio Aguero (inset) has missed much of this season and Kevin de Bruyne is only back after a long spell out through injury. Yet the team has hardly missed a beat.

Ruben Dias arrived from

Benfica in the summer and has been a real success at centre-back and the manager has somehow resurrected the career of England defender John Stones who seemed to have no future at Manchester City not so long ago.

Joao Cancelo has been a revelation, wherever he has played in the team – at full-back or on the wing.

Oh, and, like Dias, he’s Portuguese, and will be playing against Ireland in the World Cup qualifiers later this year.

Along with an awful lot more top-notch football talent.

Those games don’t bear thinking about and today doesn’t bear thinking about if you are a Manchester United fan. Unless the team finds a serious spark from somewhere.

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