Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer find themselves in a strange predicament, as witnessed by fans worldwide. Following the return of Cristiano Ronaldo and an unusually good start to the ongoing season, the United faithful understandably expected an upturn in the club’s fortunes.
However, things have been much the same, with the Red Devils struggling to put points on the board. At the time of writing, United have only registered two wins in their last six games, losing three and drawing the remaining one. Furthermore, they had to wait until the dying breath of the two games to seal a winner.
As a result, the 20-time Premier League champions sit in fourth place in the league, having been eliminated in the initial rounds of the EFL Cup. With a flurry of tough fixtures on their calendar, Manchester United will be hoping to find a quick solution to their prolonged problems. Here are some of the troubles that Solskjaer will have to address as soon as the international break gets over.
The selection dilemma at Manchester United
Despite having a decent roster on his hands, Solskjaer has failed to come up with an effective starting XI as of yet. Cristiano Ronaldo only joined his former club a few months back, and United already seem to have become over-reliant on their star man. Serial bench-warmer Donny van de Beek showed his frustration regarding his minimal game time midway through their clash against Villarreal. Their highest assist provider Paul Pogba is also not a guaranteed starter at the moment, with Solskjaer preferring the duo of Scott McTominay and Fred for some bizarre reason. With so many useful stars on his side, the Norwegian manager has so far failed to devise an effective system that extracts the most out of his players.
Absence of an adept defensive midfielder
The partnership as mentioned earlier of Fred and McTominay is the root cause for most of the club’s problems. While the Scottish midfielder is still a decent prospect, Fred has been utterly disastrous at Old Trafford. His failed attempts to take the ball off Demarai Gray in United’s pathetic 1-1 draw against Everton directly led to Andros Townsend’s goal in the 65th minute. The absence of a quality defensive midfielder is hurting them massively. United desperately need a reliable player at the base of their midfield to screen the backline, and Fred is definitely not a part of the solution.
Jadon Sancho – Form and Game-time
Putting an end to one of the most long-drawn transfer sagas of recent times, Manchester United finally landed the highly-coveted signature of English prodigy Jadon Sancho for a hefty price of €85m this summer. However, the youngster has failed to set the world alight so far, producing absolutely nothing in the nine games he has participated in so far. Sancho has chosen to ‘play safe’ in his performances, in sharp contrast to his natural, free-flowing game. As a result, United haven’t yet seen the beast they thought they were signing when they forked out an insurmountable amount of cash earlier this summer.
Ole Solskjaer at the brink
Arguably the most important task at Solskjaer’s hand is to ensure his job safety in the coming days. Due to his poor showings and a lack of improvement with passing time, the former ‘baby-faced assassin’ is one of the favourites to get the boot in the Premier League. While the club did show their faith in the 48-year-old Norwegian by giving him an improved and extended deal two months back, his recent outings have put a huge question mark on his future at the club. With a stacked schedule awaiting United after the international break, the next few games could decide Solskjaer’s future at the club. It’ll be interesting to see how United tackle this sticky situation in the coming days.