Planning for the future is laudable, but at some point there must be evidence of a plan being enacted in the here and now

For eight minutes at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, everything looked to be going well for Manchester United. And then suddenly it wasn’t. As it was in the game, so it has been for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s career at Old Trafford. Have patience, the message comes again and again from the United board. Look at the youth in the squad. Wait for it to flower. But for how long, and at what cost?

Watching another insipid United performance away from home against a side below them in the table, Mauricio Pochettino’s aphorism about the cow came to mind. It can stand in the field every day and watch the train go by, but it’s never going to be able to explain the timetable. Just being there, experiencing the same thing over and over doesn’t necessarily bring wisdom, understanding or development. And there is little evidence that United are developing: they haven’t won three games in a row for 50 weeks, when Solskjær had just taken over and everybody was still euphoric just because he wasn’t José Mourinho.

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