There is always a nervous tension going into the Manchester derby but the clouds looming over Old Trafford are darker than usual, ready to burst and rain fury down on Manchester United at any moment.
The circumstances surrounding the future of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are like a boa constrictor slowly squeezing its prey in what has been touted as a stay of execution by many, and the blade is being sharpened ahead of kick-off on Saturday at 12.30pm.
Not for one second am I enjoying any of it. None. Man United’s incompetence at board level, and a lack of planning for what’s next, is the reason Solskjaer remains in charge. It’s not because they want to give him another chance, it is because they do not know what to do after he leaves and that indecision is hanging Solskjaer out to dry.
United haven’t lost to City in the last four derbies and there is some solace to be taken in that. On more than one occasion under Ole, United have turned up in a game where few expected anything and taken it by storm. We’re all hoping for a similar outcome on Saturday but the realists in us all are expecting something far more sinister.
This could be Solskjaer’s last hurrah. His final stand with one bullet left in his pistol at the end of a Western, his redemption moment to grasp victory from the jaws of sacking. It could also be a brutal curtain close.
There is a widespread consensus that Ole had to prove himself in the three games after Spurs to ‘save his job’, one I disagree with, but after momentum faded in the Atalanta match the writing is on the wall surrounding his job.
Going into Saturday there will be a nervous air around watching United play City but it is ultimately a side story to the unfolding Shakespearian tragedy with Solskjaer as the protagonist, and rarely does a Shakespeare have a happy ending.
I really hope my feelings going into the derby are melancholy, without substance, unnecessary fear, but I don’t think it is.