Below-par displays despite signing some of the biggest names in world football, zero creativity at the centre of the park, no tactical sharpness, no cutting edge in the final third, a confused coach and an unforgettable thrashing against the arch-rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford – all is not well at Manchester United.
Tough times at Manchester United. pic.twitter.com/a7ZcacavyP
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 24, 2021
In the stands of the Theatre of Dreams – a bemused Sir Alex Ferguson witnessed his favourite side getting smashed all over the park by a Red Machine, who were much superior on that evening and played like a true champion reminding each and everyone that Liverpool are in no mood to exhibit respect towards any opposition, rather, they would play to win – even if it requires the infliction of a humiliation.
When a team is in such a form, the coach needs to revise his tactics and either go for a plan B or C, but till now, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not been able to come up with anything.
Most of the time, he relied on the charisma of individual brilliance which is absolutely uncharacteristic of a Manchester United manager.
Cristiano Ronaldo cannot deliver every day and save your job.
With many optimistic at the start of the season that the signings of Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo would spell danger in the Premier League this season, it was shocking to see that so many fans leaving Old Trafford at around the 60th minute on Sunday.
— ?????? (@jessymwanzia) October 24, 2021
The dreams of competing for the Premier League title this season seems to be over, with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City playing at a different level to Solksjaer’s side.
United’s last four Premier League fixtures have included three losses and a draw, leaving them in seventh place in the table on 14 points, while Chelsea are well ahead at the top on 22 points.
Having not lifted a major trophy since 2017 when they won the Europa League, Manchester United have not settled since then.
United’s 5-0 loss to Liverpool was the biggest result in that fixture since the Merseyside team won 7-1 at Anfield back in 1895, leading to a lot of criticism towards the Manchester side.
— UtdDistrict (@UtdDistrict) October 24, 2021
“They leave spaces everywhere, they don’t press well and they are always walking, especially those up top,” said Gary Neville on Sky Sports after the game.
“This side is very lazy when it comes to reacting. They are babies when they concede a goal.”
The side’s defence has been a major problem this season, with goalkeeper David de Gea having kept only one clean sheet.
Cristiano Ronaldo is doing his part, with six goals in nine games since returning to England; however, the tactical choices from Solksjaer have not been good enough to have the team controlling games.
“You can’t play with five attacking players. Pogba has to come out of the midfield position,” said Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports.
Solksjaer is currently under contract with the Red Devils until 2024, but since his arrival back in 2018, is still yet to win a single trophy with the side.
The reaction from the Manchester United fans at half-time tells you everything you need to know.
? Sir Alex Ferguson also pictured looking on pic.twitter.com/D1Isumo5a1
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 24, 2021
As the fans grow tired of his underachievement at the club, Solksjaer’s position becomes more and more unstable.
“It’s not easy to say something apart from it’s the darkest day I’ve had leading these players and we weren’t good enough, individually and as a team,” Solksjaer said of the performance.
“You can’t give a team like Liverpool those chances, unfortunately, we did. The whole performance wasn’t good enough, that’s for sure.”
The players still have faith in Solksjaer, but how long could they afford to maintain their loyalty remains a moot question because they might not be able to afford such mediocrity for long.
Everyone is waiting for @ManUtd Twitter account to announce that we have parted ways with Solskjaer.
Instead they’ll show us highlights of Ji-Sung Park’s assist Vs. West Ham in 2005.
— Jᴀᴄᴋʏ Hᴇɴᴄʜᴍᴀɴ♦️ (@JackyHenchman) October 25, 2021
Luke Shaw admitted such a result had been on the cards when it was put to him that players looked lost at times and he was asked whether that was on Solskjær.
“I think it’s ourselves that we need to look at, first and foremost, in the mirror,” he told the Malaysian sports network Stadium Astro.
“Are we doing everything right and preparing right for the games in ourselves? Of course, we have the tactics and how the manager wants us to play, but I think at times we’re way too easy to play against.”
“I think, for example, you look at the first goal, it can’t be possible that they can have sort of three running through in the first five minutes. We need to be more compact, we need to be better and we know that. I think also maybe we can say this result was coming. I think in past games where we’ve won, we haven’t been at our best and we know that.”
According to the Guardian, “Antonio Conte would be open to discussing taking over at Manchester United if Ole Gunnar Solskjær were sacked, while it emerged on Monday that several players are questioning whether the Norwegian can take the team any further.”
To be clear about Antonio Conte. He’s never been a fan of joining clubs during the season as it’s not in his style – the only club right now that could change Antonio's mind is Manchester United ? #MUFC
Still no official talks. Depends of Solskjær situation – matter of respect. pic.twitter.com/eaXrgygCjB
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) October 25, 2021
“United are thought to be seriously considering Solskjær’s future after taking one point from their past four Premier League games. Joel Glazer, who heads the American family’s ownership, resides in Florida, five hours behind the UK, so any decision may be taken later on Monday. The managing director, Richard Arnold, is understood to have cancelled all appointments on Monday to hold talks with Glazer.”
“Conte has not received any formal contact from United although it is believed he has been sounded out should a vacancy arise in the coming days. Although the Italian is reluctant to take up a position during a season, he would make an exception for United because he considers the club a special opportunity. The 52-year-old would want to understand United’s vision before committing.”
The Conte plan could still be regarded as speculation, but Manchester United need a change and fast – it would be better to start the change by changing the coach who has not been able to prove his worth in terms of tactical brilliance.