There were many things that made Sir Alex Ferguson the great manager he was and one of them was the ability to cultivate a siege mentality among his squad.
As a long-serving member of that squad, current United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be fully aware of that and should use it to his advantage in tonight’s crucial Champions League Group H tie with RB Leipzig.
Paul Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola has said the player is unhappy at the club in an interview with Tuttosport, the full details of which can be read here.
On the surface of it, the timing of the former pizza chef’s comments could not have been worse and threaten to derail and undermine United on a pivotal day of their season. It is a distraction, unsettling for the team, risks interfering with dressing room harmony and puts Solskjaer in a difficult situation in regards to whether to play Pogba or not.
But this is where the Norwegian can use his experience of working under the legendary Scotsman to turn the situation to his advantage.
WWFD – what would Fergie do? There are no direct comparisons with situations that happened under his watch, in that it is the player’s agent and not the player himself who has undermined the manager. We can only speculate, but there is a distinct possibility that Sir Alex would have sent the Frenchman on the first plane back to Manchester and condemned him to the Under-23s until such time he could be sold, much as he did with Dwight Yorke, whose only sin was to turn up 45 minutes late for training, then row about it, in 2001.
The Champions League winner only started six games for United for the remainder of that season before being sold to Blackburn for €3.5 million.
If Solskjaer were to send Pogba home, he could use it to motivate the remaining players and get them fired up for tonight’s game. ‘Are we going to let Raiola and Pogba undermine us? Are they going to distract us and make us lose? Hell, no. Go out there and show the f—ing b—ards!’ would be a typical Ferguson response.
Tonight’s team sheet will be a sure indication of whether this is the line that Solskjaer takes. Simply put, if Pogba starts, the Fergie method is not being used. But if he is on the bench, or better still, not even in the matchday squad, then watch out for fireworks from the United side in Leipzig tonight.
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