The rollercoaster of Manchester United continues. It has not been an impressive and dominating start that many people predicted for the Red Devils. Currently they are in free fall and are still a million miles away from Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea in terms of challenging for the title. Can anything be done to stop the rot?
Pre-season started with a lot of promise with more signings brought in to bolster the first team squad quality. Signings of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo really showed intent to the other teams in the league. However, all how come with a lot negativity.
Firstly looking at Varane he has excelled and looked to be settling at the heart of defence but has really struggle with injury. The French world cup winner has only featured nine times (one appearance from the bench) in all competitions which is not good enough for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be able to solidify the defence.
Secondly, Jadon Sancho simply has not played enough. Solskjaer has not given the opportunity for Sancho to prove what he can do. Each time the England winger has been used it has either been from the bench, played for around an hour and more disappointingly it has been from the left hand side. Sancho was signed as a right winger and that needs to be where he plays.
Then there is Cristiano Ronaldo, the man who has dragged United out the mud on what seems like a thousand times in the space of three months. He has helped with the goal scoring but has he helped with the style of play? What is the style of play this season? Questions are lingering over Solskjaer and he needs to know what is best with a 36 year old Ronaldo. He will score but will he press if you want him to?
It has been such an inconsistent start to the season and there are clearly glimpses of magic from this United team. Thrashings of Leeds United and Newcastle United showed that they can do it but backs against the wall performances against Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers will not cut it. To win a league title you do not always have to beat the best sides, it is about picking up the wins against the lower league teams.
One thing that has changed under Solskjaer’s United is that when they do concede a goal there is not panic and there is the faith they can restore it quickly. However, it is now becoming where they look like they could concede five goals and look nowhere near scoring one.
United can be are one of the best on the counter and they can string some fantastic balls around the edge of the box. Solskjaer has made United more entertaining especially after the previous three stewardships. However, the start this season has not felt flowing it has felt very haphazard with players leaving their positions wide open. Against Liverpool and Manchester City it was embarrassingly easy for them to dominate the game and the lack of belief was evident from the players.
The question remains over the manager and will continue to do so for as long as he is in charge. Many believe he does not have the credentials to take United to the next level and it could be the case that he has reached the ceiling of his capabilities. However, he has proven that he can get United challenging in his previous two full seasons in charge by reaching semifinals and the final of the Europa League. But it is hard to see that being enough when things are this low.
Reverting back to the point about the style of play, Solskjaer needs to know what he is playing and how he is going to play it and be firm in that decision. Changing a style of play each week against the top teams to match their style rather than one you are comfortable is always going to end up disastrous, just as it did against Liverpool with United pressing high up and trying to play out from the back against the best pressing side in the country.
Solskjear clearly needs some help and looking to improve his coaching staff would not be the worst thing in the world. Coaches like Carlos Queiroz and René Meulensteen know the club well and could be a great signing to help build on the restructure of the club behind the scenes.
Are The Players Up For It?
The chips are down, once again, so Solskjaer needs players to fight for the shirt and get it right. It is looking far too easy for some to give away the ball and not be bothered about winning it back. Approaching the winter period, it is vital to pick up some wins and some good wins at that to build confidence but Solskjaer needs to get his system right and the players need to fit around that.
The inconsistent performances of Captain Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Aaron Wan Bissaka is killing the team. The same can be said about the limited midfield pairing of Scott McTominay and Fred, both capable of doing one thing a defensive midfielder is required to do but not both things.
If Solskjaer is being let down by his side he is reluctant to look to his quad and he needs to change that. Keeping it fresh is important and with results coinciding with poor performances he needs to be more ruthless and give squad players a chance to prove themselves.