Following a stagnant performance and subsequent defeat at home to Burnley on Wednesday, a mass exposure has grown amongst fans, former players and the media concerning the mismanagement of Manchester United football club.
Fans, pundits and former players alike understand there is little to no value in just criticising the players anymore. It has become apparent that a lack of quality exists that is preventing the clubs ambitions of returning to the upper echelons of club football.
In fairness to Ole Gunnar Solskjær, at the start of the season, it was made clear that the club are in the middle of a transitional period and that there was a need to re-establish a playing style synonymous to the great Manchester United teams of old. To bring in new players who fit the mould of young, British, homegrown talent, the best players in the transfer market and to remove existing players whose credentials don’t meet the necessary requirements to perform at the top level.
The difficulty in accepting the above is we haven’t seen very much of it coming into effect. The transfer debate is one on its own but to paraphrase, yes the club invested in the summer, but obviously, not enough. Equally, or even more so, the argument remains that no footballing philosophy or playing style has been established.
When watching United, it’s a display of one-dimensional football, only getting success from counter-attacking. Despite its relative success, to continue with this way of playing in the long-run is not sustainable and teams have already found this out, forming deep-blocks to halt any threat of a counter-attack.
It is clear Solskjær has intended to return United’s traditional way of playing under Sir Alex Ferguson, but there is disillusion, maybe even disrespect, to assume Ferguson’s football was to always play on the counter. The old United sides played daring football, full-backs pushing up beyond the opposing back four, runners from midfield and quick switches of play to create overloading situations. None of these traits are noticeable watching Solskjær’s side.
For Solskjær to earn points against the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City in the Premier League this season is commendable, and a key reason why the club remain 5th in the table. However, it’s when United face teams who are happy to give up possession where the problems occur and a solution is yet to be found.
Solskjær hasn’t created a counter-attacking footballing team, he has fallen upon a squad capable of deploying the tactic with ease. He is yet to find a system that brings the best out of those at his disposal and after 13 months in the job, it’s poor on the managers part. If Plan A, the counter-attack, doesn’t work, there is no Plan B, and because of that, there has to be doubts over the level of coaching at the club.
The lack of quality is obviously a restriction to Solskjær, however, players like Luke Shaw, in his Southampton days, embodied the style of full-back United had always looked for yet the Norweigan has been unable to bring out such performances in the left-back. There is an obvious need for players during the transfer window and those that improve this squad, but if Solskjær is unable to bring the best out of the current players, then there may be a reluctance to spend significant funds on his targets with Mauricio Pochettino waiting in the wings.
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