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exclusive Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's new contract was greeted with delight by Liverpool, Chelsea and City fans

Kop chief is dealing in small change compared to Ole, but he’s still doing a far better job


Solskjaer has to deliver.

Solskjaer has to deliver.

Solskjaer has to deliver.

Manchester United’s owners have done their part of the deal by signing Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane – but one big pieces of their jigsaw may still be missing.

You can see United fans getting excited ahead of the new season after signing two high-profile players and spending over £100million – and rightly so.

Supporters love to see their team showing ambition and new arrivals add a little spice to a team, but the other big signing of United’s summer will give their rivals confidence they will still come up short this season.

The decision to hand Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a new contract was greeted with delight by fans of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City because, at this moment, he is still a coach with so much to prove.

Solskjaer seems like a great fella, but the record books confirm he has won nothing of note as a manager – and until he gets his hands on trophies, questions will be asked.

United should have won the Europa League last season, but they messed it up in the final against Villarreal, and, once again, Solskjaer was left to explain another failure in a cup competition.

There’s no doubt United have improved under his watch, as they were a bit of mess by the time Jose Mourinho left in December 2018.

Yet, when a manager is in charge of a massive football club and wins nothing for two-and-a-half years, he is fortunate to be handed a new three-year contract.

I saw a tweet from Sunday World reporter Kevin Palmer the other day revealing United have a net spend of over £600million on transfers over the last five years, while Liverpool have spent around £160m.

They are staggering figures and confirm that most of Liverpool’s signings have been funded by the sales of Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and fringe players who are not needed by manager Jurgen Klopp.

Already this summer, Liverpool have generated over £30m in income from player sales. That has funded the deal to sign Ibrahima Konate.

Marko Grujic has been sold for around £10m, Harry Wilson went to Fulham for around £12m and Taiwo Awoniyi was sold to Union Berlin for around £6m.

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With Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri and Takumi Minamino among those who could also be sold this summer, you can see Liverpool ending up with £70m in income from sales, which leads me to believe they will make at least one more signing in this transfer window.

As for United, they have huge commercial revenue from sponsorship deals all over the world. That allows them to spend big, even if they are not bringing too much in from player sales.

The transfer-spending gap between Liverpool and United also highlights the value of having a world-class manager. The gap in spending between Liverpool and United is £450m. Which equates to the value that can be placed on Klopp over Solskjaer.

The Liverpool boss has produced miracles during his time at the club, and while it will be hard to sustain success when you are only spending what you bring in from player sales every summer, it’s a business model that should work for the Anfield owners so long as Klopp is there.

He has taken players like Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane and turned them from good players to world-class performers. That’s the mark of a great manager.


Klopp makes the most of what he has to spend.

Klopp makes the most of what he has to spend.

Klopp makes the most of what he has to spend.

To do it all with a net spend of just £35m-a-year in the transfer market makes his efforts all the more amazing, with Liverpool in huge profit, as they also collect £100m in Premier League TV money and lots more in the Champions League.

So Liverpool and United are working on very different business strategies – and it highlights how well Klopp has done working with a fraction of the funds Solskjaer has to play with.

It means that the United manager is under huge pressure to deliver some silverware this season.

Winning the League Cup or the Europa League won’t do either. He needs to be aiming real big.

When a club signs a four-time Champions League-winning defender and one of the highest-rated young players in world football, the manager will be expected to deliver the biggest prize in England and Europe. No question.

That means United have to be genuine contenders for the Premier League title and they also need to be competing at the business end of the Champions League come next April and May. If they’re not, Solskjaer will be in real trouble.

When I look at the United team, they still have big question marks hanging over them, starting with their goalkeeper.

Yes, David De Gea was fantastic for them for many years (especially when he played against Liverpool), but he has lost his way badly and Dean Henderson may need to take his place.

I’m not sure either that Aaron Wan-Bissaka is good enough to be part of a title-winning team – then, there are the perennial question marks over Paul Pogba’s future at the club.

Pogba will either leave this summer or run his contract down and get a mega-money free move next year. That is the way he and his agent have always operated.


Over £30m in income generated from player sales helped Jurgen Klopp bankroll the purchase of centre-back Ibrahima Konate

Over £30m in income generated from player sales helped Jurgen Klopp bankroll the purchase of centre-back Ibrahima Konate

Over £30m in income generated from player sales helped Jurgen Klopp bankroll the purchase of centre-back Ibrahima Konate

Those two go after the cash – and that’s their prerogative, but he won’t be much use to United if he stays for another season with his mind, effectively, already elsewhere.

Then, up front, they will be without Marcus Rashford for a couple of months after he confirmed he is having surgery on a shoulder injury. And, at the age of 34, you have to wonder whether Edinson Cavani can lead the forward line over a 50-game season.

There is no doubt the signings of Sancho and Varane take United to the next level and, even with Solskjaer in charge, I expect them to be in the top-four again and closer to Manchester City than they were last season.

But would anyone put money on Solskjaer lifting the Premier League trophy at Old Trafford at the end of this season?

I’ll let you answer that question.

Attack’s now the concern at Anfield

It was great to see Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez returning to action on Thursday – all of sudden, Liverpool’s defence looks to be the strongest part of their squad.

With Joel Matip joining Van Dijk, Gomez, new signing Ibrahima Konate, and Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams all pushing for starts in the centre-back slots, Jurgen Klopp has options aplenty in the position that was so problematic last season.

Van Dijk’s return is as big a boost as any team in world football could get this summer, as he transforms that defence in an instant.

If he stays fit, Liverpool will be back in the mix for trophies.

My concern is at the other end of the field, with Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino misfiring for large parts of last season.

All three have two years left on their Liverpool contracts and might not all stay, so there is a bit of uncertainly at the top end of the pitch.

That trio were unstoppable as Liverpool became European, world, then English champions over the course of two glorious seasons.

Yet, they appeared to lose some of their spark last season, so Klopp will be hoping the return of fans will change the mood around Anfield on matchdays and inspire the front three to fire again.

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