Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is behind the wheel and his Manchester United side are everywhere – Warming up

THE GREAT STORIES OF THURSDAY

And the reds will stumble, keep going, keep going

If playing badly but still winning is a sign of a team going somewhere, then playing well and losing is implicitly a sign of a team going nowhere. Nowhere, except at the bottom of their Champions League group, that is to say. And for Manchester United, WAIT IS ANOTHER RETURN.

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Manchester United cannot go on like this forever. You know it, they know it, and even the Glazers probably have an idea. (Our own Graham Ruthven explains why here very well.)

But as they continue like this, we can all agree that it’s (a) great fun and (b) great TV. The neutral can both laugh and curse Manchester United in the span of a single game, while United fans are dragged up and down, round, round, under and under. Old Trafford might have produced a few boos at halftime, but it was bouncing back at the end, triumphant frenzy bordered with terror.

It’s the weird thing about United right now. Generally speaking, dysfunction generates dissatisfaction: a team that does not work quickly becomes a dissatisfied team. And United, in several key departments, just isn’t working. The midfielder and attacking are trapped in a long distance relationship, while the quivering and exposed defense offers far too many chances. If David De Gea hadn’t rediscovered his personal magnetism over the summer, things would have gotten much more complicated.

But amid all this lack of function, United continued. They created chances in the first half, which they lost, and chances in the second, which they won; they were flapping their arms and pumping their fists and clapping and screaming. No one has given up on anything yet. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still behind the wheel, and everyone is always ready for it, even if the car is sliding around and the GPS is crying.

The club is both a heartwarming story of belief and oneness working to overcome any obstacle, and an object lesson in the limits of belief and oneness. It’s like what you get when you line the cracks with very expensive paper, but this paper has a cool image on it that everyone loves. It is perhaps an underestimated virtue in the serious world of football to be loved. And here is Solskjaer building his castle on vibrations.

It’s at this point that cold hard logic – or Paul Scholes – kicks in and suggests it’s all right to do this sort of thing against an injured Atalanta: offensive mind, defensively vulnerable, almost built in a lab to lose. 3- 2 at Old Trafford. And it’s at this point that cold, hard logic is laughed at the hall by Manchester United, the worst good football team, the best bad football team, the silliest superclub in football. Liverpool on weekends. Should be a pounding. It could be anything.

Future check

Football’s other dumbest superclub title contender, the IOU big pile we call Barcelona, ​​actually had a pretty good day on Wednesday. They first won a football match and then announced that Ansu Fati, the bearer of all hopes and dreams, had signed up for another six years.

His release clause has been set at a cool and precise one billion euros, and let’s be the first to congratulate him on his move to Newcastle.

The schedule for Fati’s new contract was delayed a bit before Barcelona kicked off against Dynamo Kyiv, and the cynical and bitter warm-up began to question whether this was meant to distract from the actual game. . If Barcelona had lost, after all, they would have been stranded at the bottom of their group, four points even from the Europa League. What better time to announce that the future is secure.

Fati’s new contract comes a week after Pedri signed a similar deal, with a similar release clause inspired by Dr. Evil. These are the twin pillars around which the new Barcelona will be built, by any lucky soul / poor sucker who gets the job after Ronald Koeman. And abstractly, thinking only of the two players, it’s a delightful prospect: a brilliant striker who seems to be able to do anything with the ball, and a midfielder with soft passes to give it to him.

If only it was possible to believe that skinny and weird Barcelona were going to make all of the toughest decisions as well. Tying your best young players to massive release clauses is the easiest part. Give them the right team to play on? It’s going to be a little trickier.

Infantino’s baby

It’s been a week since fought over FIFA’s extremely smart plan to host a World Cup every five minutes, and as talks come to an end it is clear that one thing has been decided: more talk. are necessary.

On Tuesday, Gianni Infantino held a meeting with the various European football officials, who all – presumably – spent their time shouting “What are you doing ?!” What ?! Why ?! What ?! Or, to quote Mr. FIFA himself:

The debate has been and will likely continue to be heated. I understand that, being passionate about football myself, you may have different opinions. We have also received legitimate reviews and enthusiastic comments. It is so important that everyone makes their voice heard. Boycotts were not discussed today.

This “Boycotts Were Not Discussed Today” t-shirt raises many questions already answered by the t-shirt.

There is a FIFA summit on December 20, although it appears the governing body will not be pushing for a vote, on the perfectly reasonable grounds that you should never ask for a vote on an issue if you are. likely to lose. Rather, it will leave more time to discuss all the big questions, such as “What if we had a World Cup every two years but nobody could play in the back-to-backs?” And “Wow, how did you manage to make this idea even worse?” ? “

It was enlightening, this argument; we’ve all learned a lot about the way the people who run the game think about the game and the poor dumps who watch it. And even if – as seems likely – the dream of the biennial World Cup has failed and failed, we bet the consequences of the argument will be dire. The conversations about boycotts, about leaving FIFA, about doing something else: they will not end anytime soon, whatever the outcome of the heated discussions.

IN OTHER NEWS

Splash, splash, splash. Truly, the lightly flooded football game is one of the great pleasures in life.

RETRO CORNER

Happy birthday to Paul Ince, history maker and title winner, who spent two years in Serie A back when it was a very unusual thing for an Englishman. It feels like his goals can get overlooked at times, so to restore that balance here are his top ten goals for Inter.

HAT TIP

Steve Bruce is no longer the manager of Newcastle United. Considering the pace at which football operates these days, it’s astonishing that he lasted two years in this role – no one seemed to like him, especially Bruce himself. This is Athletic’s George Caulkin and Chris Waugh combing through the trash.

His 1000th game in management, a guarantee of longevity, went off without pomp. There was no presentation on the pitch, no recognition of his achievement. Instead, once his team surrendered in a familiar fashion, he was subjected to chants of, You get kicked out in the morning from Spurs and Newcastle supporters. As he attempted to conduct his post-game interviews at the side of the field, he was heckled by a drunken fan in the executive boxes.

FUTURE

Entries completed, on meat: Europa League, Europa Conference League. Spurs are absent at Vitesse Arnhem, West Ham at home in Genk, and we believe the choice of the savvy neutral is Marseille’s visit to Lazio.

And Andi Thomas will be back tomorrow with all this plus a new plan: what if we had a World Cup every week, but with only four teams, and also it’s in that cage of the old Nike ad?

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