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UNITED woe Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows he does not have a set of players that can be trusted in big games

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Manchester United's Paul Pogba celebrates scoring his side's first goal against West Ham

Manchester United's Paul Pogba celebrates scoring his side's first goal against West Ham

Manchester United's Paul Pogba celebrates scoring his side's first goal against West Ham

MANCHESTER United face a huge Champions League game tonight and it’s hard to have any confidence in them passing their test against RB Leipzig

A point in Germany would take United into the knock-out stages and yet after watching their first-half performance at West Ham on Saturday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows he does not have a set of players that can be trusted in big games.

We have all witnessed the shocking decline at United since Alex Ferguson retired but I was staggered by how bad they were for long periods at the London Stadium.

If United were up against a better team, they could have been three or four goals behind at half-time and while they deserve credit for finding a way to win the game, questions marks over the attitude of some of their star names has lingered.

Paul Pogba ended up scoring a fantastic goal to get United back into the game at West Ham, but his half-hearted display up to that point was borderline embarrassing for a midfielder who is supposed to be world-class.

That could have been said of a lot of the United players and it was only when Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford came off the bench that they clicked into gear and got the job done.

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Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shake hands with the match officials

Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shake hands with the match officials

Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shake hands with the match officials

If you look at the Premier League table, United appear to be in a pretty decent position ten games into their season, but you get a very different impression when you watch them in action.

They pass the ball slowly, they lack the commitment to close teams down, they are sleepy at the back at times and make far too many basic errors.

These are highly paid international players, who continue to make the same mistakes, and while I have thought from day one Solskjaer is not the manager to turn things around for United, the attitude inside that dressing room has been a problem for a long time.

Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho know how to get football teams working and they failed to enjoy long-term progress at United, so it is asking a lot of a managerial novice like Solskjaer to succeed where they failed.

Now they are preparing for a game that means so much to Solskjaer from the perspective on hanging onto his job long-term, but it also has wider implications.

The club has lost a fortune amid the pandemic in 2020 and they need to be in the knock-out stages of the Champions League to get the windfall of cash that can guarantee.

This explains why Solskjaer took a chance by leaving out some of his star names for the West Ham game, with the issues some of his second-string players serve up highlighting the challenge he is facing.

I see Pogba’s agent is hitting the newspapers again trying to agitate for a move in January and when you have players with that kind of attitude at a club, it’s never going to work.

You look at United and compare it to what we see with Premier League champions Liverpool and it’s chalk and cheese.

What Jurgen Klopp has done with his squad is blend together a lot of top players who all have big egos, but he has them all singing from the same hymn sheet and that is part of his brilliance.

Solskjaer has got rid of some of the troublemakers at United, but a few bad eggs still remain and there is also a lack of quality in key areas that means they are well short of a team ready to challenge for the title.

It remains to be seen how the club will reflect on Solskjaer’s position if they go out of the Champions League tonight, but it is a real possibility.

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Manchester United's Marcus Rashford celebrates with Bruno Fernandes

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford celebrates with Bruno Fernandes

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford celebrates with Bruno Fernandes

Leipzig are a decent team with a good young manager in Julian Nagelsmann and they will be hurting after that 5-0 drubbing at Old Trafford in October.

Top teams don’t like to be on the end of defeats of that magnitude and having watched Leipzig turn in a great performance to draw 3-3 with Bayern Munich at the weekend, I’m expecting them to be fully engaged in the challenge tonight.

If Leipzig score first on home soil, United will be relying on Fernandes and Rashford to pull them out of a hole again and they might run out of escape acts sooner rather than later.

Liverpool’s win against Wolves on Sunday evening was yet another example of how good this team are.

I was among those who believed Wolves could be a real test for them, but they blew them away in hugely impressive fashion as 2,000 fans made a welcome return to Anfield.

When you consider what has been thrown at Jurgen Klopp and his players in terms of injuries, VAR decisions and a few other issues in recent weeks, they have done well to be joint top of the Premier League and through to the next round of the Champions League.

Academy graduates Caoimhin Kelleher, Neco Williams and Curtis Jones caught the eye once again against Wolves and the vibe around Liverpool is so positive on so many levels.

They play Midtjylland in the Champions League tomorrow night and as they are already through to the next round, I would expect Klopp to leave a host of his star names at home.

The Premier League matches against Fulham next weekend followed by the big one against Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham at Anfield next Wednesday are the priorities now and Liverpool need to keep them momentum rolling.

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