Manchester United will finish the season without a trophy for the fifth consecutive season, as the club finds itself at a fork in the road.
Their chances of winning the Champions League were always bleak, and their failure to lay a glove on Atletico Madrid saw them beaten in the round of 16.
The 1-0 setback at Old Trafford gave it a 2-1 aggregate deficit, highlighting the work that needs to be done this summer.
After finishing second in the Premier League and losing on penalties in the Europa League final, the summer signings of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane, and Cristiano Ronaldo fueled hopes of further improvement under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. However, they were knocked out of the Carabao Cup in September and subsequently humiliated at home by Liverpool and Manchester City, with Solskjaer’s departure in November following a 4-1 loss at Watford.
Interim manager Ralf Rangnick has only lost two Premier League games, but there have been too many draws and disjointed performances, and they have also been knocked out of the FA Cup and the Champions League.
Furthermore, it is far from clear that United will qualify for the Champions League next season, with rivals Arsenal presently fourth in the Premier League, a point ahead of United and having played three fewer games.
Ronaldo, 37, had a poor game on a personal level after scoring a hat-trick to help United beat Tottenham 3-2 on Saturday. He failed to record a single shot throughout the match.
This is only the third time he has failed to do so in Champions League games, and it is the first time since 2011, when he was playing for Real Madrid versus Barcelona.
With the opportunity of a sixth Champions League title slipping away, Ronaldo is on the verge of being the first Real Madrid player to finish a season without a trophy since 2009-10, his first season at the club.
While his first season at the Bernabeu failed to produce results following his then-world-record £80 million transfer, the Portugal captain went on to win at least one trophy per season for the next 12 years, totaling 20 awards. Four Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups, three FIFA Club World Cups, and five league crowns were among his achievements, which he shared between Real and Juventus, whom he joined in 2018.
Since Ferguson’s departure, the chief executive has the difficult responsibility of appointing United’s fifth permanent manager.
Despite the turmoil at Old Trafford, Schmeichel believes the finest managers in the world would “love” the opportunity to succeed interim manager Ralf Rangnick at the end of the season.
“They’ll see a lot of potential,” he predicted. “We’ve seen what it means when they’re the one who gets it right. If that option arose, I believe everyone who is not a member of Manchester City or Liverpool would take it.”
Mauricio Pochettino of PSG and Erik ten Hag of Ajax are among the favorites to succeed Pochettino, despite the fact that both clubs were eliminated from the Champions League in the last 16 stages.