Can Solskjaer save Manchester United’s season?
London (AFP) – Manchester United’s demoralising defeat against West Ham was a stark reminder of how far they have fallen as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wrestles with how to turn around his side’s fortunes.
Mistakes at the back, a desperate lack of midfield creativity and a worrying shortage of firepower up front have left the club well off the pace just six games into the new Premier League season.
The statistics do not make pretty reading for United fans. Since Solskjaer’s honeymoon period came to an end in March they have won just five out of 19 matches in all competitions.
After nine successive away victories under the Norwegian in all competitions, they have now gone nine without a win and are already 10 points behind leaders Liverpool.
And it has all come at a time when their two main rivals, Manchester City and Liverpool, are setting new standards at the top of the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho, sacked in December, told Sky Sports after Sunday’s defeat at the London Stadium that he did not see any improvement in United this season, despite the signings of defenders Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka and winger Daniel James.
“I like the three,” he said. “I think they are bringing some good quality to the team. But the team as a team, I don’t like at all. I’m not surprised by the result and I don’t think Ole can take any positives from the game.”
Former United captain Roy Keane, who won multiple trophies under former boss Alex Ferguson, said it was “scary how far they’ve fallen”.
– Rashford injured –
To make matters even worse for the Solskjaer, England forward Marcus Rashford limped off in the second half, leaving him with no recognised striker on the pitch.
With Anthony Martial out of the picture because of injury, Jesse Lingard came on but looked anonymous as he battles to find form.
But the lack of goals — United have not scored more than once in a game since their opening-day 4-0 victory against Chelsea — is not just due to misfiring forwards.
The midfield looks old, flat and ponderous, a world away from the goalscoring power and creativity that Pep Guardiola’s City boast in abundance.