Manchester United succumbed to their third loss of the Premier League season on Sunday against a struggling Newcastle United side, which has taken them even further down towards the relegation zone than the top of the table.
The Red Devils are now 15 points behind leaders Liverpool, and are slowly drifting away from the top 6 spots as well.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under tremendous pressure and he will have to make quite a few changes in the next two weeks during the international break.
But, why have United regressed so much this season? Let’s take a look at 3 reasons why Manchester United are struggling under Solskjaer:
This is the obvious reason that most United fans were afraid of ahead of the season – the weak squad. Manchester United transferred two of their attackers in Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, but did not replace them in the summer transfer window.
The United hierarchy have put tremendous pressure on young attackers like Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, and summer signing Daniel James, who are 23, 21, and 21 years, respectively.
The 20-time league champions have also not strengthened in midfield, which has been weak over the last few seasons, and weakened further in the last two transfer windows with the sale of Marouane Fellaini and departure of Ander Herrera.
Solskjaer also has a disinterested player in Paul Pogba, who doesn’t seem interested when he is on the pitch. These factors, coupled with the form of Fred and Nemanja Matic has made United toothless and lacking in passion in the midfield.
Solskjaer started off his spell as the Manchester United interim manager with a fantastic run of victories, but that soon tailed off at the end of the season, and continued at the start of this season.
The Norwegian, who had a poor record as manager of Cardiff City when they were in the Premier League in 2014, has not shown great tactical prowess and has been found wanting in the way he has set up his team.
Solskjaer seems to not set up his team keeping in mind the opposition’s strengths, and seems to stick to a certain style of play. United have played a 4-2-3-1 set up which requires two midfielders who can do a bit of everything, as well as a very good No. 10, which the club do not have.
The former United player hasn’t changed his formation, and has stuck to the same set up for almost every match this season.
No Plan B
Manchester United also do not have a Plan B, when things are not going right for them on the pitch. Solskjaer seems to rely on playing on the counter, but that tactic doesn’t work for teams that sit back as United do not have creative players in midfield to unlock defences.
When he had the likes of Lukaku and Fellaini, the Manchester United manager could have opted to play direct football, using their physical and aerial strengths. He seems to have similar players in each position, with many of them not good enough to play for a club like Manchester United.
Solskjaer has shown that he may not have what it takes to manager in the Premier League, let alone a massive club like Manchester United.