Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's time could be up at Manchester United if they lose derby, says Paul Merson

"I would say that if he doesn't get through this, that could be it. I think it's make or break for Ole." Watch Man Utd vs Man City on Saturday Night Football from 5pm on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 5.30pm

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Paul Merson says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's time at Manchester United could be up if they lost the Manchester derby on Saturday.

After exiting the Champions League on Tuesday night following a 3-2 defeat by RB Leipzig, Solskjaer and United face Manchester City on Saturday, live on Sky Sports, having found some form in the Premier League.

Though Merson feels the game could suit United's style of play, the Sky Sports pundit says a defeat for Solskjaer should spell the end of his time at Old Trafford, but only if the United board still regard the club as among the best in the world on the pitch as well as off it.

Here, Merson also discusses United's reliance on Bruno Fernandes, why Dean Henderson should start on Saturday, how the game could pan out, and insists if City go 1-0 up, it's game over for United.

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Defeat could spell end for Ole

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 02: Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of Manchester United walks off after the UEFA Champions League Group H stage match between Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford on December 02, 2020 in Manchester, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Ma
Image: Solskjaer's job could be in real danger if they lose on Saturday, says Merson

For me, this is a massive football match. I would say that if he doesn't get through this, that could be it. I think it's make or break for Ole. That is, unless Man Utd have a different plan, and think differently about this club than everyone else.

Do Man Utd want anyone else? Are they comfortable with this situation? They run the show, there's no pressure, do they like that? Do the people who run Man Utd think they are the biggest club in football? Do they think like me, or do they think 'we're not that team anymore'?

Would Zinedine Zidane be in a job today if Real Madrid hadn't made the last 16 of the Champions League? Definitely not. They would have gone off the idea that they are the biggest club in the world, and would have made that decision.

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I'd love to know whether those people running Manchester United are happy where they are. I don't get that feeling from the board that they believe they're the biggest team in the world.

But it might be the perfect game...

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A preview of matchweek 12 in the Premier League as Manchester United host Manchester City, Leeds face West Ham and Tottenham travel to Crystal Palace.

With no crowd there, if you asked Man Utd who do you want to play this weekend: Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham or Man City, who do you want to play? They'd pick Man City, because it suits them.

Man City will have all of the game, and Man Utd are very good on the counter attack. That's the way they'll play.

Will Man City be able to keep it tight at the back like Arsenal didn't? Do Man City have the patience to attack and not leave themselves bare at the back? I'm not sure they can.

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The game will suit Man Utd. It's horses for courses. They'll sit back, 10 behind the ball, and try and play on the counter attack.

Man Utd can't fall behind

 1:07
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits his side 'never got going' as they lost 3-2 at RB Leipzig and crashed out of the Champions League.

if Man Utd go 1-0 down, you can say goodnight. They can't keep going behind in football matches. It will only last so long. If Man City go a goal up, they may well sit back and try to rip them to shreds on the break.

Solskjaer came out after the West Ham game and said it was a massive result because West Ham had taken points here and there. This is Man Utd. Just because West Ham beat Aston Villa, Sheffield United and Fulham. How can you say that if you're manager of Man Utd? You should come out and say: 'We should beat these teams, we're Man Utd, we've got better players.'

Man Utd keep giving teams head-starts. The Saints game, the West Ham game, the RB Leipzig game, they shouldn't have lost against PSG. They were terrible in the first half against West Ham, and I mean terrible.

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Ahead of the Manchester Derby on Saturday we take a look back at the best moments between the two teams in the Premier League.

Man Utd can't put a 90 minutes together, and I think soon enough they're going to get beaten badly like they were against Tottenham.

I think Marcus Rashford is a massive asset from the bench, when people are more tired. With his pace, skill, finishing, he's a weapon off the bench, and sometimes Solskjaer may need to play him that way.

Play Henderson, not De Gea

Dean Henderson replaced the injured David de Gea
Image: Dean Henderson should start against Man City, says Merson

David de Gea shouldn't be playing this season. He jumped out of the way for the third goal, if Ole has a bit about him he'll say: "You're out, Dean Henderson's in."

People say: "You can't play him in such a big game" ... there's nobody in the stadium! Play him now when there's nobody watching, and then when the 75,000 fans return, he has games under his belt. This is the time to play him! What are they waiting for?

Overreliant on Fernandes?

I think the players at Man Utd are starting to rely on him. They're thinking: 'Let's wait for Fernandes to do something.' He's their go-to man. I think it's dangerous to rely on one player.

He's the chalk and cheese to Pogba. There's one player playing with freedom, trying things, and another who isn't.

Pitch to Post Preview: Man Utd v Man City preview; Plus Tottenham analysis, Arsenal's attack, and Liverpool's strength in depth

This week on the Pitch to Post Preview Podcast, Peter Smith is joined by Sky Sports News reporters James Cooper and Ben Ransom to discuss the Manchester derby, including whether David de Gea will be dropped, why John Stones is back in the City side, and how it could all play out.

Their colleague Michael Bridge is on the line to discuss Crystal Palace vs table-toppers Tottenham, plus Sky Sports Data Editor Adam Smith has the numbers behind Arsenal's attack and Liverpool's strength in depth - as well as his Pitch for what will happen in the Premier League this weekend!

Listen to the Sky Sports Pitch to Post Podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox

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