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out of his depth Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is never going to be at the level of the three managers he has got to beat

The problem Solskjaer has is that, like me with England, he is never going to be at the level of Guardiola, Klopp or Tuchel

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjar

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjar

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjar

Watching Ole Gunnar Solskjaer trying to take on Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel reminds me in many ways of my experiences as a player with England.

People could say, ‘You weren’t good enough for England’, and I’d agree – I know I wasn’t because John Terry and Rio Ferdinand were better than me.

There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t be better than them. Terry was taller than me and was always going to be better in the air. Ferdinand was quicker and stronger. I had to work harder or try to think cleverer than them but they both read the game brilliantly.

I maxed out with what I had and probably did well pushing them. But the reality is nothing I could do was ever going to supplant the two of them. It’s the same with Solskjaer up against Klopp, Guardiola and Tuchel.

He’s done a good job at Manchester United. I honestly believe that. He’s probably exceeded expectations. There’s been entertainment you didn’t get under Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho. But he’s never going to be at the level of the three managers he’s got to beat.

He’s never going to be them. He’s never going to have that gravitas. He hasn’t got the presence of Klopp at Liverpool, he’s hasn’t got the trophies behind him that Guardiola has at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Manchester City so that when he speaks the players hang off his every word.

He’s up against managers of two of the best teams we’ve seen but what intensifies the spotlight is Tuchel coming in. Chelsea were where United have been in the last two or three years but they brought in a manager who has taken them up to that Liverpool and City level really quickly.

I noticed Solskjaer had a go back at me this week for suggesting he’s never going to reach those heights, and rightly so. You want to see a manager fighting for himself and his club. You look at the way United have fought back from the criticism since Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at Leicester and that’s the sign of a great club.

You can never keep them down. But I didn’t say it for a reaction or because United happen to be playing my old club tomorrow.

United can beat Liverpool and the Old Trafford crowd can play a huge part, as they did against Atalanta in the Champions League on Wednesday night when they came back from two goals down to win 3-2.

But it won’t change the bigger picture. Wednesday still felt like they were papering over the cracks.

You look at Klopp’s very first game, away at Tottenham, and Adam Lallana falling into his manager’s arms when he came off because he was that exhausted by the pressing and you knew immediately what Liverpool were. Now Liverpool have improved to the point where they are also one of the best teams on the ball, too.

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Guardiola in his first few games at City having his full-backs push into midfield. His vision was clear from the start. Tuchel came in at Chelsea with three at the back.

At the start of the season the talk was of Solskjaer perhaps moving to 4-3-3. He’d never done that before and it was like, ‘Where’s that come from?’.

I like to listen to the managers talk after games. If I watch Chelsea, I’ll want to listen to what Tuchel has to say after it because I could take something from it. Klopp, Guardiola, it’s the same. You feel like you’re learning something or are being educated. They may break the game down.

Brendan Rodgers did that after Leicester’s victory over United last weekend. They know what the plan is and they know exactly why it has or hasn’t worked. When Solskjaer speaks after games, it’s all about ‘the Man United way’. But what’s the Ole way?

When you get to year three it’s time to deliver. That’s why the criticism has come. That’s why he is being so closely scrutinised. He said after Leicester that “something has to give” and responded by dropping Paul Pogba against Atalanta.

It was a big decision but he and United should be preparing for life without Pogba, who could easily leave at the end of the season. I thought it was strong management from Solskjaer to omit him after the player’s comments post-Leicester about something needing to change because it’s a decision that’s largely been fudged until now.

It felt like the wagons were circling on Wednesday and United reacted as big clubs often do in such circumstances. It doesn’t mean United are any closer to doing anything meaningful in the grander scheme of things but it’s that feeling of believing the world is against you. I’ve been there as a player.

I remember in 2009 we’d lost four on the bounce and faced United at Anfield a few days after losing at home to Lyon in the Champions League. Everyone was getting after us at the time but we won 2-0 and I think that will be the worry for Liverpool this weekend. That the Old Trafford crowd really get behind their team again and the players have that ‘We’ll show you’ attitude.

It’s all about the here and now. Whatever the result, though, Solskjaer is not suddenly going to emerge at Klopp’s level. As I know only too well, there’s nothing he can do about that.

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