Manchester United’s season has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride so far. The only thing in which the Red Devils have shown consistency is being inconsistent. Yesterday’s defeat in a decisive game against RB Leipzig further proves the point. United just needed a draw to qualify for the knockout stage, but in vain.
This is not for the first time Manchester United have choked under pressure. Last season’s semifinal games in the Europa League and the FA Cup showed that the squad had a long way to go.
Manchester United’s current situation is due to the combination of many factors. Individual errors, Solskjaer’s inability to be tactically sound and too much reliance on individual brilliance have all played a major part in the inconsistency.
For instance, all 3 goals United conceded yesterday were easily preventable. Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s poor positioning left Angelino unmarked and he broke the deadlock in the 2nd minute. A goal at such an early stage was enough to ruin United’s game plan. Luke Shaw was out of position for the second goal which was scored by Amadou Haidara. Harry Maguire failing to clear the ball properly led Leipzig to score the third goal, thanks to Justin Kluivert.
It is the manager’s responsibility to get the best out of his team’s players, and Solskjaer definitely hasn’t been helping himself in that regard. Imagine having a squad with a bunch of talented players and struggling to find the perfect balance and a perfect strategy. Various questions need to be asked when it comes to Solskjaer’s tactics.
Here’s a fun fact: Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer haven’t won a single game in the Champions League without a penalty. Yes, penalties do count as goals, but one cannot really count on them all the time.
United clearly have not been playing like a team at the moment. In their last four away games, United have always conceded first. Although the players have shown a great spirit whilst coming back from behind in those games, this is not the way forward when it comes to long term success. A consistent team does not have to wait to be a goal or two behind to start playing properly.
Will the Pogba drama make things worse?
A day before the Leipzig clash, Mino Raiola, Paul Pogba’s agent, said that it’s over for the Frenchman at United. He urged the club to sell Pogba in January.
“Paul is unhappy with Man United as he is no longer able to express himself in the way that he would like and as he is expected to. Paul needs a new team, a change of air. He is under contract for the next 18 months and it will expire in the summer of 2022.”Mino Raiola
Pogba did play a part in United’s last two games. He started away against West Ham United on the weekend and scored a brilliant goal, having quite a game. Amid all the speculation, the World Cup winner was among the substitutes against Leipzig yesterday, and he made a great impact when Solskjaer brought him on. He played an important part in United’s second goal.
No matter what people say about Pogba, there is no denying that he is a match winner. He has shown it many times in his career, and even at United. He scored in the Europa League final in 2017, which is the last piece of silverware won by United.
If United sell Pogba in January, they will lose a world-class footballer. The club’s fate after selling Pogba will only depend on the way the board reacts to his departure. An ideal replacement will be very much needed. You cannot lose a player of Pogba’s quality and get away with not replacing him. It will all be on the hands of Ed Woodward and the Glazers, and knowing the incompetency of the board, one would have no reason to not feel negative.
In the next few days, we will write a piece on the list of players Manchester United should look to sign if Pogba leaves in January.