Manchester United in 2019: The emperor's new clothes

Manchester United in 2019: The emperor's new clothes

Soccer

Manchester United in 2019: The emperor's new clothes

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Following the debacle that was Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, Manchester United appointed Molde manager and former Red Devils striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to the managerial vacancy on December 19, 2018 as caretaker.  After a successful run of 14 wins in their next 19 matches, Solskjaer was rewarded with a three-year contract on March 28, 2019. Following a poor run of form under the leadership of Mourinho, Red Devil fans optimistically believed that the Norwegian had righted the ship and a top-four finish was not only possibly, but imminent.

Since Solskjaer’s permanent appointment, however, the teams’ glaring weaknesses have been revealed, with a mere two wins in their next six matches.  In the past two games alone, they have been outscored 7-0. Making matters worse, with just four games left to play in their current campaign, they have been knocked out current Champions League action and find themselves in sixth place in the EPL standings, two spots out of qualifying for CL competition next season.

In the past week alone, the new manager has said that he will be targeting at least one signing in each area on the field, while looking at five new signings.  Saying that there is “no hiding places” from their match-day performances, it would seem that after a 4-0 drubbing against Everton on Sunday that saw the Red Devils manage one shot on frame, several of the squad might be seeking a hiding place. Saying it will take some time to find the right mix of players to improve the level of play seems like a sensible course of action.  Much like Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, simply switching Jose Mourinho with new manager Solskjaer will not alter the level of play of the team. In the past two weeks, Barcelona and Everton saw right through the façade.

With three of their remaining four games being played at Old Trafford, the next two are against top-four opponents Manchester City and Chelsea, who also face must-win scenarios in their matches. Should Manchester United garner four of the available six points from these two games, it will give them a better opportunity for a top-four finish, given that their last two matches are against relegation-bound Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City. But without several key changes in their roster, next season will find Manchester United in the same situation they are in this year, clinging on to a top-six finish with no silverware to show for it.  

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