United must break from the past: Neil Humphreys
Solskjaer has to go to escape shackles of club's mythology
Manchester United must learn from Liverpool's failings and escape their own nostalgia. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been a beneficiary of a club trapped in its own mythology for long enough.
Should he lose his job, as reported, then the Red Devils can finally look to the future without being shackled to the past.
Like Liverpool's Graeme Souness and Roy Evans in the 1990s, Solskjaer lasted this long only for being a legendary character in an increasingly distant fairy tale. The dogged myth was far greater than the managerial resume.
No other English club comes close to the Reds and the Red Devils when it comes to wallowing in cherished memories, and with good reason. No other club has a past to rival Liverpool and United.
Anfield's revered Boot Room turned a Second Division club into the kings of Europe. Liverpool's inner sanctum, formed by Bill Shankly and continued by Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan, educated and guided Kenny Dalglish to unrivalled glories in the English game.
So the Reds persisted. They hung on to their old boys like the Romans relying on archaic leaders in the final days of empire.
Souness and Evans couldn't repeat history. There was the hope that the Anfield Boot Room - the closed shop for Liverpool's managerial visionaries - had somehow seeped into their DNA. But, even if that was the case, coaching styles had moved on.
Like Indiana Jones' discoveries, the Boot Room belonged in a museum.
With no connections to a hallowed legacy, Gerard Houllier, Rafael Benitez and Juergen Klopp brought no baggage, only fresh ideas. They cherry-picked the best of Liverpool's heritage and blended it with new philosophies for the 21st century.
But Solskjaer has only the past. There was never a plan, philosophy or template for the future beyond muttering something about the "United way". He was propped up by the whimsical notion that answers could always be found in mimicking lessons from history.
To make matters worse, United's global brand is built on the very commodity that earned Solskjaer a position he was clearly unqualified for. Nostalgia.
A club's mythology used to be a cottage industry. But United's decades of success have been spun into a billion-dollar enterprise.
As the Guardian highlighted, United recently opened their first entertainment centre in Beijing. Four more are planned for China. Interactive attractions allow visitors to bend it like Beckham. Amid the photo opportunities, the 1999 Champions League final plays continuously on a big screen, almost parodying the club's predicament, stuck in a nostalgic loop forever.
On any given day, viral clips of a ranting Gary Neville or Roy Keane replaying his greatest hits of "spirit", "hunger" and "desire" force United's followers to regress even further. Every YouTube video feels like a flashback.
Oh, look, there's the Class of '92 again in the studio. There's Sir Alex Ferguson in the stands. There's Keano. There's only one Keano. There's only one United, too, the one from 20 years ago, the one with the loyal club servant who spends weekends looking horrified in the dugout. Solskjaer provided a portal to a happier period. He's never really been a manager, but a security blanket.
His presence gave fantasists a faint hope of going back to a better time. It's been football management through the prism of Brexit and Donald Trump, the simplistic notion that a return to yesterday will build a brighter tomorrow.
Such regressive thinking has taken United backwards, desperately searching for something that is no longer there. Liverpool needed someone outside of the Boot Room to forge a new path. United need anyone who isn't Solskjaer.
He's the right man to boost a nostalgic entertainment centre in Beijing. He's the wrong manager to compete in the English Premier League. He always was. But those sentimental blinkers were so hard to remove.
It's time for United to leave the past where it belongs, in every sense, and start over.