Manchester United’s embarrassing 2-0 defeat at home to Cardiff on Sunday was the worst possible end to their atrocious season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer openly displayed his disappointment at the team’s efforts on Sunday, stating that Manchester United is a long time away from challenging for the title.
Manchester United’s two biggest rivals, Liverpool and Manchester City, were both fighting for the title on the last day with Pep Guardiola’s men securing back-to-back Premier League championships for the first time since 2009 following a 4-1 triumph at Brighton.
Meanwhile, United’s 10th loss in the Premier League meant that they ended the season a staggering 32 points below champions City in sixth place, failing to secure Champions League qualification for the third time in six years.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment in December kickstarted a run of excellent results for Manchester United, including that remarkable 3-1 win at Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League Round of 16. The purple patch, stretching till the end of February, represented the type of football fans craved to see since Sir Alex Ferguson departed the club in 2013.
However, since the beginning of March, the Reds lost their footing in the Premier League losing six of their last eight matches. United’s unsurprising exit from the Champions League quarter-finals at the hands of Barcelona was another low in what turned out to be a devastating season at Old Trafford.
Liverpool and Tottenham’s Champions League heroics have both earned them a place in the final in Madrid whilst Arsenal and Chelsea face-off each other in the Europa League final, and with rivals City on-course for an unprecedented domestic treble, Manchester United, as of yet, remain the only top six side who have already finished their season trophy-less.
Solskjaer, in his post-match interview, claimed that it is a big plus that the season has ended as they can draw a big line over it and start to look forward. “We are too far behind where we want to be. 97-98 points is exceptional by two teams. We are five or six points behind third, fourth and fifth place which is realistically who we need to challenge next year”, said the Norwegian manager.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, in an episode of Monday Night Football, analyzed the key problems at his former club earlier this week. The Englishman claimed that he struggles to like this Manchester United team which lacks Manchester City and Liverpool’s hunger and desire.
“I’ve never not liked a Manchester United team, I’ve always thought the team can win, the team can lose, the team can draw. But I really struggle with this team. What pains me more is that the two clubs that I dislike the most [Liverpool and Manchester City], I see them doing everything right. I see a spirit, a hunger, a resilience, a toughness, going until the end”, claimed Neville.
He did not shy away from tearing into the hierarchal structure at the club, saying, “Ed Woodward’s had seven years at this. I think he’s had his chance personally. No problem with keeping him at the club. The revenue, the operating profit are pleasing the Glazer family enormously.”
“But he’s had his chance in running the football side of the club. Right so now you’re talking about the two-person structure which has not worked for the three-four years. It’s got to the point where they’ve got to bring a different structure in. It’s a big football club, it’s a monster of a football club, so they’ve got to bring the best in class and step aside”, he insisted.
Unlike other top clubs in Europe, Manchester United have not yet appointed a Director of Football at the club, which has been an ongoing topic of debate for many years. The club’s transfers in recent seasons have been shambolic, including the likes of Fred, Alexis Sanchez and Matteo Darmian. The recent departure of Ander Herrera, one of their most influential players in the past five years or so, has also indicated the club’s fall from grace. Other superstar names such as Paul Pogba and David de Gea have also had highly inconsistent performances throughout the course of the season.
“There is a cultural problem at the football club. The decisions are bad, who is signing the players? Every other football club, in this country, who is in charge of signings. They’ve still got Sir Alex’s chief scout, they’ve got Louis van Gaal’s scout there, they’ve still got David Moyes’ chief football operator there. They’ve got four or five people there I think there’s another guy who has been appointed”, he continued.
Manchester United’s troubles on-the-field are quite evident and it is no doubt that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need time to invoke in his players a sense of passion and spirit which has been the motto of the club since many years. Manchester United’s commercial obsession has definitely plagued their recent past, and their problems stem from deep inside the lopsided structure at the helm.