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(Dec. 29, 2017 - Source: Matt Watson/Southampton FC)

Manchester United crash back to reality

Manchester United have crashed back to reality in recent weeks. The high of winning football matches under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has worn off as the Red Devils have lost three matches in their last four games in all competitions. During the club’s recent poor run of form, Manchester United appointed Solskjaer as permanent manager. It was a move that was expected following the club’s impressive run from mid-December to early March. However, with the club looking lacklustre and stars once again not performing, it looks like his appointment could be a folly.

Reverting back to type

For the second time in three weeks, Manchester United tasted defeat at the hands of Wolverhampton Wanderers. Their Tuesday night loss once again showcased star players failing to perform to their potential. Even in Manchester United’s win over Watford at the weekend, midfielder Paul Pogba had reverted to the inconsistent player he displayed under Jose Mourinho.

Football pundit Craig Burley called Manchester United’s decision to give Solskjaer the permanent job “crazy” in the wake of Tuesday night’s defeat. The team’s undefeated streak during Solskjaer’s interim period just glossed over the club’s problems. Manchester United may have scored goals against teams they were expected to beat, but expectations grew to ridiculous heights. Fans and football pundits began to believe the club had returned to their best despite results being what was expected of the Red Devils.

Mourinho’s legacy still hanging over the club

Manchester United still cannot defend and Mourinho’s poor work in the transfer market signing defenders continues to affect the club. But Manchester United have needed to be rebuilt for a long time. Even under Sir Alex Ferguson the club was in need of overhauling its squad. The biggest difference between Ferguson and the managers to come after him is the former got the best out of the players he had at his disposal.

Solskjaer’s shortcomings as a manager were again on display against Wolverhampton Wanderers. He has the incessant gum chomping down which he aped from Ferguson. Other than that, it is difficult to see what Solskjaer brings to the club tactically.

His biggest attribute is his man-management. Mourinho failed miserably in his ability to manage personalities, especially his own, during his two and half years at Old Trafford. Solskjaer is far more personable and has rallied the troops. Yet, he is now at a point when that isn’t enough when playing top Premier League or Champions League teams.

Manchester United on the outside looking in

Manchester United are outside the Champions League places with six games to play. The Red Devils are in a dog-fight with Arsenal, Tottenham, and Chelsea for the final two Champions League places. It won’t be easy for them to achieve a top-four finish, especially with two league losses in their last three games.

Are Manchester United better under Solskjaer than they were under Mourinho? Absolutely. Is Solskjaer the best man to lead the club forward? Not really, but it is difficult to believe Manchester United would have been able to lure Mauricio Pochettino away from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer. Outside of Tottenham’s manager, is there really any other successful manager who can meet the sky-high expectations of Manchester United supporters? No, not right now.

About Drew Farmer

Drew Farmer
Drew’s work has appeared on a variety of sports and travel websites. He is also a published author having written the sports/travel book Soccer Travels.

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