There is no two ways about it – Manchester United are a hot mess from top to bottom. Their poor performances run deeper than just the manager, and if they are to sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season, they’re sucking themselves back into the familiar managerial cycle responsible for their recent troubles.
There are plenty of problems at hand, and the most prominent of these is the board’s inability to start a long-term footballing project and stick with it. The squad inherited by Solskjaer tells all – an unorganised mish-mash of individuals with no clear philosophy or coherence between them. Having five managers in less than six seasons has left an abundance of deadwood at Old Trafford and sacking Solskjaer will only pile the misery onto a team crying out for identity.
Ole is not a world-class tactician, but this comes with experience and the Norwegian has made a good start on his rebuild. The summer signings of Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka were expensive but essential, and signify Solskjaer’s intent to build a solid team spine starting from the back. There is already evidence of an improvement – United are forecast to concede 38 in total this season, whereas last season they conceded 54. The problem now lies in attack, and Solskjaer needs time to address this.
The recent lack of goals can be pinned primarily on sub-par finishing. At the time of publication, United have scored just 10 goals, the lowest out of the traditional ‘top six’ sides. An expected goal total of 12.93 indicates that they should have scored more goals given the quality of the chances they have created. Improved attacking depth is still needed but will require more than one transfer window to implement. Sacking Solskjaer would not change this. The imminent return of Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial will be a huge boost offensively and it is likely that we will see United’s goal scoring exploits pick up in the near future.
In the long term United have every chance of turning results around if the right areas are addressed. The upcoming transfer windows will be crucial – it is clear that Solskjaer needs to strengthen in attack and continue to offload those who have no business being at the club. Unless United are dragged into a relegation scrap there is no need to dismiss the manager. If the board are consumed by delusions of short-term success over a sustainable model, their woes will only continue.