Since Sir Alex Ferguson left almost half a decade ago, Manchester United have been on a downward spiral. Since the Scotsman retired from the game, the Red Devils have only finished second once, whilst finishing outside the top four on four occasions.
The 2018/19 season was just another season to forget for the world’s most famous club. Jose Mourinho started the season by intentionally starting fights with both the media and his own players. It got so toxic at the club that the Portuguese coach had to be dismissed in favour of club legend, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
This short-term appointment had the initial desired reaction, with United going on a 10-game winning streak. However, things took a turn for the worst when Wolves disposed of them twice in the space of two weeks. Ever since then, Manchester United’s gaping weaknesses were there for all to see and them missing out on UCL qualification only confirmed that.
Manchester United will be once again playing Europa League football in the upcoming season. For a club of their stature, this is a massive failure. What makes it worse for United fans is that this fate was confirmed by an embarrassing 1-1 draw with an already relegated Huddersfield side. If you thought that couldn’t be topped, United lost 2-0 at home to relegated Cardiff just to end the season on a high! That short-term upturn in form a month ago did nothing but paper over the cracks as form is temporary while class is permanent.
So, where did it go wrong last season, let’s break down the statistics:
- Goals Conceded: United only kept 7 clean sheets last season, conceding a staggering 54 goals in the process. This is the highest amount of any team in the top nine and one of their highest totals in the PL era.
- Faltering Attack: Manchester United drew blank in 7 league games last season, that’s 18% of their games. Despite having the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, United have scored the second lowest amount in the top six. Which doesn’t help when you already have the worst defence amongst your competitors.
- Losses: Manchester United lost 10 league games this season, one of their highest totals in the Premier League era.
- Personnel: Despite spending close to £400million under Jose Mourinho, Manchester United still possess a huge personnel crisis. There are honestly around seven/eight players who could be deemed not up to the required standard. In fact, let’s list them; Nemanja Matic, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young, Romelu Lukaku, and Scott McTominay are all names that United wouldn’t hesitate to disregard. The argument around whether Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial even want to be at the club is a question for another day.
Over the next few months, Ed Woodward has a massive rebuilding job on his hands. It’s clear his current recruitment policy has only added to the mediocrity of the club, so a drastic change in direction is needed. The appointment of Ole in the first place was drastic but was it right?
Some would even argue that the appointment of the Norwegian was based on emotions and not long-term planning. However, the higher-ups must now do all they can to the back the 52-year-old.