Make or Break for Solskjaer
It’s Manchester United’s worst start to a season for 30 years. Solskjær’s win ratio of 47.5% is the worst of any United manager since Dave Sexton got the boot back in April 1981.
They currently sit just two points shy of the relegation zone. They haven’t won away from home since April against PSG, and not in the league since Crystal Palace in February. It feels as if Solskjær is currently staring down the barrel of a gun and indeed he might be, for that last stat might be the key.
Solskjær will need to get something from his next nine games after the international break, perhaps the most crucial of his managerial career. The problem is that six of them are away from home and the next fixture is against European Champions and league leaders, undefeated this season, Liverpool.
This run in will see United hurtle towards December with matches away to the likes of giant killers Norwich, revenge seeking Chelsea and trips away to hostile Belgrade and far flung Astana in the Europa League.
Odds for United to finish in the top four have stayed steady in recent weeks so before placing a bet and backing the team, make sure to cruise the best betting sites on the market.
Struggling to score
Regardless of how much faith you have in the current manager, nobody can much deny that he is perhaps Sir Alex Ferguson’s most faithful disciple. He expounds unyielding belief in his mentor’s fast flowing and attractive football.
However, United are doing anything but that. In fact they’ve currently scored less goals this season under Solskjær than at the same juncture in last year’s campaign under Jose “Bore-inho”.
United have struggled to break teams down both in domestic and European competition, perhaps their lowest ebb coming away to AZ Alkmaar last week when they failed to register a single shot on goal.
Part of the reasoning for United’s poor form as of late has to go down to the injury crisis that the club is currently weathering under. Key players and first team starters such as Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelöf have all been absent.
Nobody can expect United to be firing at all cylinders given such a dearth in first team personnel. What can be criticised is the failure of the recruitment department to anticipate the need to adequately cover such gaping holes.
You can’t win anything with kids
The one shining light for the Reds will be to see a healthy number of academy players coming through the ranks since Ole took the wheel last December. The likes of Mason Greenwood, Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and Brandon Williams are being given opportunities, while Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay are firm fixtures in Solskjær’s New United.
The problem is the lack of world class, experienced players in the squad who can bear the weight and guide the team through present difficulties. After all, youth can only flourish when it has a strong foundation.
Perhaps in middle of the park is where it’s most acute, with no central players having being able to adequately funnel play into meaningful and penetrative attacks. Poor Scott McTominay looks like he could carry the weight of the world on his shoulders but is consistently lambasted in the press for ‘not being world class’. While £52million Fred who has looked every bit the part in Europe, simply looks lost in the Premier League.
United have the talent in their youth which will perhaps come good in a number of seasons, but for now they need their first starters back, and they need winners on the pitch.
Salvation in Europe?
United’s main goal this season is without a doubt to rebuild a fractured squad, but their concrete objective is to get back into the Champions League. Fighting on two fronts, if the Reds give up any more ground in the Premier League over the following weeks they’ll be forced to throw all their eggs in the Europa League basket.
Currently in a group facing FC Astana of Kazakhstan, Partizan Belgrade and Alkmaar, it has not all gone to plan. It would be United’s most embarrassing moment in Europe since they were knocked out by Basel back in 2011 should they fail at the group stage this season.
Should United make it through to the knockout stages, their bogey team Basel are just one of a plethora of potential opponents. For any Swiss football fans interested in betting on the Europa League, be sure to check out the best betting sites in Switzerland ahead of a bet.
Solskjær will have to come up with some answers and sharpish to. He cannot survive the next nine games unless his team start etching some points on the board, both at home and abroad.
Adam Grimshaw - @adamgeorgie