After the scintillating impact of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since his interim appointment, Manchester United still find themselves so far off the pace with both their fiercest rivals in Manchester City and Liverpool streets ahead of the Red Devils. The Norwegian boss’s performance since then has still not been good enough although it is measuring stick that is hard to gauge. It’s no secret that problems run deeper than the head coach and simply because United are the biggest club in the country does not mean that expectations should be to compete at the very top if their players don’t match. While that I’m sure is the unanimous feeling amongst the Old Trafford fan-base that their playing squad isn’t of the highest order, there has to be a strategy to reach the top again and I think the signs are there that will have to be without Ole Gunnar Solskjaer…
For me the team lack a clear identity, that is not to say there has to be a clear-cut philosophy on the pitch but when I watch Man Utd they lack ideas and strategy. A lot of their success has come against the bigger sides where they have counter-attacked effectively but they very often look lost against weaker opposition and teams who have less of the ball. Very often they are caught between a high press and sitting back and on the ball they don’t have a clear tempo. Clearly a quality issue has to be recognised but as fans I think we can tolerate poor results if there are encouraging signs that the team are working at near full capacity and if there is a clear direction. When I look at Chelsea under Lampard I can see what he is trying to do, I can see a pathway under his leadership that could at least get Chelsea on the up. Having a regimented philosophy is very typical of the modern Premier League but I don’t think it has to be as clear as Klopp’s gegenpress or Guardiola’s total football but I don’t see any pattern to Man Utd’s play and I don’t think pinning that on player quality is right either.
Talking yourself into trouble
Very often a manager will play safe in their press conferences and little can be taken from them but I find OGS’s conduct after games bordering on laughable as time goes on. It feels like he is trying to lower expectations to spare his blushes at any possible opportunity. I’m sure United fans would accept that they will be far from perfect on occasions but when you’re expressing how far you’ve come about a comeback to salvage a draw against Sheffield United or losing to Liverpool as progress then for me that is not a way of getting fans on side. I think OGS is accepting mediocrity far too often and keeps on suggesting that progress is being made, pointing to the fact that they will get there in the end. I just think his whole demeanour is soft, whether he’s just like that in the public eye is one thing but very often a team reflects their manager and it would be hard to argue that United have been too soft at times under his permanent tenure. Again to fairly compare to Lampard, who has been critical of his side in recent weeks even when victorious. This portrays a man that really demands improvements and is looking at the highest level from his players, I genuinely believe Lampard sees his Chelsea side reaching their highest level possible where as I’m not convinced OGS even believes that he can compete at the top and mix it with the very best.
Pattern of results
Results are of course the most important thing for a manager but it is the pattern of results that could land a manager in bother. I think it is a lot more acceptable in the right circumstances to lose to superior teams and pick up your points in the games where you’re expected to win of course. Manchester United have really struggled to impress against the weaker sides in the division and this is incredibly frustrating to deal with as fans when your club is inconsistent. Some of Utd’s results lend to their success when they have less of the ball and thrive on the counter attack. Very often against the lower sides they enjoy more possession but are laboured and do lack quality on the ball. Again this is where a manager can be helpless as Ole is not blessed with raw quality on this front but he simply hasn’t found the answers on too many occasions when a side look to stifle them. If results continue to take shape then I feel like unlikely wins against Man City will not be enough to retain the faith in the head coach and the importance of getting wins against the less well placed sides gains greater importance.
What else is our there
Unfortunately for OGS he will also have to battle with what has happened before him, his CV of failing at Cardiff and being at Molde means he is yet to prove himself as a top coach. And rightfully so, he is in many ways fortunate to have earned the full time position but his record must come under consideration when looking at his job security. Looking at a replacement however is very important when deciding to chop and change but with the likes of Pochettino in the mix it would be deflating if I was a Man Utd fan to settle for this direction they seamlessly aren’t heading in. A big name does nothing but they have to find some progression and I don’t think that is through OGS.
What do you make of these thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image credit sky sports