Last season, Manchester United clinched the second spot in the Premier League table thanks to their club legend and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Manchester United fans felt that they could be title contenders for the first time since 2013 as United signed Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo over the summer. United’s squad was now packed with players who are big game winners and expectedly the fans were once again dreaming of those glorious days at the Theatre of Dreams.
But that’s not happening at United right now. Manchester United picked up just one point in their last four league games and are without a clean sheet in the last 6 league games. United forced yet another comeback in the Champions League when they scored all 3 goals in the second half to secure a 3-2 win over Atalanta. United’s next game was against their arch-rivals Liverpool and also their biggest test this season. The players looked confident at the start of the fixture but their game plan was quickly exposed by Jurgen Klopp’s ruthless Liverpool side.
Defenders didn’t defend, the midfielders were outclassed and the attackers felt like spectators. United went 4-0 down at halftime and many fans started leaving too. Mohamed Salah went on to complete his hat-trick as Liverpool finished the game with a 5-0 win. United have hit rock bottom after this heavy defeat and all eyes are on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Norwegian has been criticised throughout his time at United but has gained the trust back by securing top-four finishes in consecutive seasons.
However, his tactics and in-game decisions have been awful in the past few games. Atalanta and Villarreal completely dominated them in the first half but Ole’s side bounced back and beat them. This Man United team doesn’t look like one, more of a scattered jigsaw of players that are yet to fit together. Whether it’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s lack of pressing, Scott McTominay and Fred in midfield or Maguire and Luke Shaw’s lack of communication, the whole team looks divided as compared to City, Liverpool or Chelsea.
Leicester and Liverpool managed to score more than 3 goals against this side, but the list of big fixtures goes on for United as they face Tottenham and Man City in the Premier League and Atalanta and Villarreal away in the Champions League. Man City, similar to Liverpool, are ruthless with the ball are in top form this season. With the Manchester Derby coming up next weekend, United need to bounce back quickly to put out a fight against Guardiola’s men.
But before that, they face Spurs and Atalanta away. Spurs sit just one place above United and lost the London derby against West Ham on Sunday. The last time these sides faced each other, United came on top with a 3-1 win against Mourinho’s Spurs. Atalanta was the better team in the first half against United and will be looking for yet another round of 16 appearance by beating United at home. United are not playing top level football and the manager’s tactics are not bringing the best out of star players such as Sancho or Greenwood. United have a world class squad with individuals like Ronaldo, Sancho, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, who can turn things around with their abilities but when it comes to tactical battle, Ole is far behind a top class manager. If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stays, his biggest challenge would be to win the trust of his fans and players. A great manager brings the best out of his players and has that winning mentality. Ole already has quality on and off the bench but he lacks the experience and tactical intelligence as a result he is yet to win a trophy.
Whether Ole stays or someone new comes in, it will be a huge task to win points from the upcoming big games. Solskjaer’s position is critical at the moment and he has bounced back from similar situations such as the 6-1 hammering from Spurs at Old Trafford. The rumours have already started with Antonio Conte being linked to the job but it will all depend on whether the board backs the manager or sack him in the morning. Antonio Conte will be a fantastic replacement for Ole but he will be immediately thrown under the bus if he fails to turn around the current situation at the club.