‘Manchester United could turn to England boss Gareth Southgate to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’ is the opening to an ‘exclusive’ from The Sun that reads more like weak conjecture than actual news.

The second part of that sentence is ‘…after previously blocking the Three Lions gaffer's route into management', referring to a throwaway detail from 13 years ago that is now completely irrelevant even if there was any validity to the overall claim.


The use of ‘could turn to’ and ‘may emerge as’ in the piece are early giveaways that there isn’t much here and that the tabloid is clutching at distant straws for the sake of a grabby headline.

The potential ‘stumbling block’ that The Sun has decided to whip up as a scandal focuses on Sir Alex Ferguson being unhappy that Southgate was allowed to manage Middlesbrough back in 2006 without having fully completed the required coaching qualifications. As such, United objected to his appointment at the Riverside Stadium in a Premier League vote.

The Sun’s assertion that United ‘blocked’ Southgate’s route into management is actually completely false. Had they done that, he wouldn’t have become a manager. But he did, because the rest of the Premier League voted in his favour and so he was allowed special dispensation.

Alan Pardew,Gareth Southgate

Would a very minor and ultimately unimportant detail that happened 13 years ago really be an issue now, assuming there is even a chance that United ‘could’ come calling? Almost certainly not.

In its report, The Sun even acknowledges that Southgate is a fairly distant outsider when it comes to the identity of the next United boss. He was a 33/1 shot at the time they published, behind nine other names according to the bookmaker the newspaper is partnered with.

Those odds have shortened since the story came out, most likely as a result of punters being encouraged to put ill-advised money on Southgate because of it.

The sad state of modern journalism is that The Sun’s weak claims on Southgate and United have been re-reported by other outlets almost as though it is hard fact. ‘Man Utd make Gareth Southgate target to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’, states the Daily Express, citing The Sun.

All of it hinges on Solskjaer actually being sacked, which really doesn’t seem likely, even before Wednesday night's important win.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Earlier this week, the Norwegian described a different story from The Sun as ‘blatant lies’, after the tabloid alleged that Solskjaer had told his players he was facing the sack if United were beaten by Tottenham and Manchester City this week.

Responding to the claims at a press conference before his side beat Tottenham, he said, “I’m good, absolutely no problem, sometimes you laugh when you read stories about what I’ve said, but at least I know the sources are not sources and are just made up, blatant lies.”

More bizarrely, that same Sun story even conceded that executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has ‘made it clear he will stick with Solskjaer no matter what’. So why on earth then pen a story about his alleged fear - which was false - over an imminent departure - also false?

Gareth Southgate as Manchester United manager? It could happen. But ‘could’ is all you’re getting.

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