Arsenal's shocking display at Rennes was yet another step backwards for Emery while Solskjaer makes giant leaps forward with Man Utd

It took Manchester United just over 5½ years and four managers before they found someone to manage it.

But if replacing Sir Alex Ferguson was the ultimate footballing poisoned chalice, filling Arsene Wenger’s boots at Arsenal wasn’t far behind.

Talk about a bad heir day. Unai Emery has already had far more of them since succeeding Wenger than he’d have hoped — or expected.

When Emery arrived at the Emirates, he inherited a team in disarray.

A squad so fragile, even the top four looked a big ask. A title challenge was definitely out of the question.

Slowly, surely, he appeared to have got his message and his methods across.

Two steps forward, one back, seemed to have been replaced by steady progress and consistency.

That defence was beginning to look, if not as watertight as the Tony Adams era, at least not full of more holes than a Jurgen Klopp excuse.

And all while across North London, Tottenham were starting to teeter and that fourth place was suddenly emerging from the fog after all.

A week ago, the Gunners were mighty unfortunate not to leave Wembley with three points.

If Alexandre Lacazette hadn’t missed two sitters, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang not fluffed a penalty or had Harry Kane been flagged offside before Spurs got theirs, they would have done.

Even so, it was another big step in the right direction.

It proved top managers can turn around top clubs quickly, it doesn’t have to be a two or three-year project.
Or so we thought.

We should have known better. This is Arsenal.

Fast forward five days to a Europa League clash with Rennes, a side whose two major honours are a couple of Coupes de France — the last in 1971. A 3-1 defeat was bad enough.

But to see players turning their backs on challenges, jogging around when it demanded high-octane effort?

It was pathetic, it was ill-disciplined.

It was inexcusable.

No wonder the players copped a load of abuse from fans at the airport as they flew back.

Contrast that with what is happening at United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

They have bought into all he’s said and rewarded him with a stunning set of results.

The most recent, of course, was a brilliant Champions League comeback at runaway French champions PSG.

Today, OGS takes his United stormtroopers to the Emirates, chasing an astonishing TENTH straight away win.

Should they manage it, there will be four points between the Gunners and the last Champions League slot.

Just a win and a draw but the way Arsenal continually contrive to shoot themselves in the foot, it’s a world away.

For years, Tottenham had to live with the mocking tag of turning Spursy whenever it came to the crunch.

These days it is more apt for Arsenal . . . and that’s something which will hurt most of all.


BOOKIES are up there with tax officers, estate agents and traffic wardens in the eyes of many.

So fair play to Fred Done for the magnificent gesture he is making on Tuesday, the first day of the Cheltenham Festival.

The opening day is third to only the Grand National and Gold Cup in the betting world. It is when bookmakers generally make anywhere between a small and large fortune.

Yet Done is giving every penny profit from over-the-counter bets in his 1,600 Betfred shops to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital’s appeal to buy a new scanner.

So before you curse if it is a day of impossible-to-find winners, remember that for once it isn’t the bookie who is in clover — it could be helping save young lives.


IT’S laughable to think now that when he arrived at Old Trafford, some reckoned Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be a worse caretaker than Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

Less than three months later, there were not many doubts about him being the man for the job.

Any lingering ones were blown away by the incredible win over PSG on Wednesday and the manner Solskjaer engineered it.

Having the balls to replace Eric Bailly with young Diogo Dalot and reshuffle the defence after 35 minutes was bold enough. Yet it was how Solskjaer behaved in the aftermath that was the icing on the cake.

Can you imagine Jose Mourinho not ­mentioning the ten missing first teamers? Imagine him playing down his role? Ole ticked both boxes on that score.

There is a good case for this, aside of the 5-1 win at Benfica in 1966 — the game that saw George Best christened El Beatle — being United’s greatest Euro away win.

Without Solskjaer, it would not have happened. No wonder United chief Ed Woodward cannot keep the smile off his face.


IN 1995, Danny Blind was in the Ajax team that stunned Milan and won the Champions League.

On Tuesday, son Daley was in the Ajax line-up that stunned Real Madrid 4-1 at the Bernabeu to reach the last eight.

Suddenly, the Dutch giants are beginning to look a major European force again. A case of the Blind leading the Blind, you may say.

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