It would be an understatement to say Manchester United have not had a good start to the season. The Red Devils, a team that should a title contender based on their history and their current squad, have absolutely no chance to fight for the 2019-20 Premier League title. That’s crazy to say considering there are 30 matches left in the season, but it’s the reality.
Fans might have felt excited after United defeated Chelsea 4-0 in the opening weekend of the league action. But those days are gone and buried in the past. It only takes a look to see where Manchester United are in the standings right now. They currently sit in 12th place and are just two points above the 18th-placed side, Everton. In other words, Manchester United are two points away from landing in the relegation zone. Who would have seen this coming?
Absolutely no one, that’s the answer. However, Manchester United have plenty of time left to turn things around. They won’t fight for the title, but a good run of results could allow them to fight for a UEFA Champions League or a UEFA Europa League berth. For that to happen, though, these three things need to occur.
Some individual players must step their game up
Harry Maguire was bought from Leicester City to anchor the defence, and he hasn’t been able to do so. Jesse Lingard looks like a shell of his former self. Marcus Rashford is only averaging over two shots per game, which is not ideal for the starting striker of a top team. Aside from Daniel James and Scott McTominay – two players that shouldn’t be handling most of the load – most of the first-team squad players have underperformed. Needless to say, that’s not a recipe for success.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must adjust his tactical scheme
Right now, United have not won their last three Premier League matches. They have won just once in their last five contests (W1, D2, L2). They have won just two games in eight contests (W2, D3, L3) and, if we also include Cup competitions, then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have won just three times (excluding ET and penalties – W3, D5, L3). The trend is clear here. This team is not performing according to expectations.
Sacking Solskjaer is not the solution. After all, we’re talking about the same manager who went undefeated in his first 12 games as Manchester United gaffer. He didn’t forget how to manager from one day to the other. But he needs to tweak things a bit in order to get back to winning ways.
United must recover their injured players
The last one has absolutely nothing to do with the club, and it’s just pure luck. Something The Red Devils have lacked of late, particularly on the fitness side of things.
Important first-team players such as Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have all missed time in recent weeks. Shaw, Pogba and Martial have been out longer than expected, and they are three of the best players United currently have. All three should be regular names on the starting XI if everyone’s fit.
All three are expected to be available after the current international break, though. So there’s some silver lining for United after all.
Will that be enough to turn the season around? That’s a different story. But something must be done before another crisis starts at Old Trafford.