|Picture courtesy of skysports.com|
The international break is a time that football fans world wide enjoy reflecting on the season assessing and debating how their teams have performed thus far. Teams hold their collective breath that players gone off to play internationals return unscathed and fully fit to play for their respective clubs. As a full fledged passionate Manchester United fan its been a time of reflection and concern. Manchester United is a club trying to rebuild the “Glory Days” with one of their own at the helm in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the helm. The general feeling around Old Trafford is a sense of disappointment and this is highlighted by the worst start to the season in 30 years. A sequence of results that has brought two wins in eight Premier League games is something Manchester United fans have seldom experienced.
The quest to find stability in a manager to replace the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson and build on his legacy has been telling and many believe current incumbent is not suitable for the job at hand. Solskjaer chief responsibility is to organise the team on the pitch and maximise the resources available to him in order to achieve results – preferably with an attractive and recognisable style of play. Solskjaer was given the job of replacing Jose Mourinho on a permanent basis on 28th March. He had lost one of his first 17 games in temporary charge and had a win percentage of 82.35%.Fast forward seven months and the backdrop could not be much more bleak. A total of 14 points from their past 15 games is better only than Southampton (13), Brighton (12) and Watford (10) of the 14 clubs who have been in the Premier League throughout his time in charge. Solskjaer’s win ratio now is 47.5% – the worst of any United manager since Dave Sexton, who was in charge from 1977-81. United are two points above the relegation zone. It is unlikely, but not impossible, they could be in it after the ninth round of matches has been completed.Thus far the results have painted a dismal result and not much evidence of this changing as Manchester United’s next opponents are runaway Premier League table-toppers, Liverpool.
|Picture courtesy of bing.com|
The Manchester United – Liverpool rivalry is the biggest rivalry in English football and the global worldwide audience is enormous . They are England’s two most successful clubs. It’s not counted as a local derby because the clubs aren’t from the same city, but a distance of just 30 miles separates the clubs. The past 6 meetings of the teams in the Premiership have resulted in 4 drawn games both teams winning a game each. Usually the fixture is very tightly contested and both teams reluctant to give an inch. This has added to the spicy rivalry between the football clubs. Sundays fixture at Old Trafford is no different but Liverpool fans definitely will be looking forward to the game with a little more enthusiasm as they have an unbeaten record and their team is firing on all cylinders.
Can Manchester United rise to the occasion? The current morale and team itself seems to be at an all time low. However this fixture against Liverpool is sure to encourage Manchester United to prove all critics wrong and deliver a performance to upset the league leaders. The fact Paul Pogba is probably ruled out for the fixture means the team will have to deliver. The consequences of another defeat at the hands of arch enemies Liverpool will sound even more alarm bells.
The question of where to next needs to be answered by Manchester United the fact that the squad is severely weakened by letting go of Lukaku, Sanchez, Herrera without finding suitable replacements in the summer preseason period has definitely called into question the decisions of Ed Woodward and the board and another season without Champions League Football would be disastrous financially and in the development of the team overall as failing to achieve a top four finish in the domestic season would be extremely unlikely to attract new signings to Manchester United. As a result this would see the club struggle to keep pace with the likes of Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea. The reliance on a youth squad policy that consists of Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Brandon Williams is asking too much of these players who have potential but are not yet able to deliver their talents on the Premier League stage. With the exception Ryan Giggs , who was deemed a special case, Sir Alex Ferguson introduced the famed ‘Class of ’92’ slowly. It was not until the ‘You’ll Never Win Anything With Kids’ day, at the start of the 1995-96 season, that they were used regularly and within the same team as the more experienced and blended team of Manchester United. The next two weeks for Manchester United hopefully will be able to give an indication of where the clubs headed to next.