On Saturday afternoon, Manchester United suffered a 4-2 at Leicester City. The defeat ended a 29-game unbeaten run for the Red Devils on their travels in the Premier League. However, the loss means that United have lost two of their previous three matches on their travels.
Not only that, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team has now won one of their last five matches in all competitions, suffering three defeats in that time.
The usual question marks over the coach after defeat
The latest run of results inevitably brings up the usual question marks over the Norwegian’s managerial ability. Solskjaer has a talented group of international players available to him. However, the question always lingers with certain head coaches about whether somebody else can get more out of a talented squad.
Until a coach leaves and another arrives nobody ever knows. This squad looks impressive on paper, but there are weaknesses, specifically in the defensive midfielder position. In the summer the club failed to address this issue.
That lack of strong central midfielder shown through against Leicester. Nemanja Matic started in the role, but the former Chelsea star is now way past his prime. He was partnered in the centre of the park by Paul Pogba. The French international is world-class on his day. However, he is more attack-minded than the other midfield options such as Scott McTominay or Fred.
Fred was unavailable due to having been on international duty with Brazil. Maybe Solskjaer could have played McTominay in the centre of the pitch alongside Matic, which would have added slightly more solidity against a team with several dangerous attacking midfielders. Pogba could have played a more advanced role.
The absence of Pogba’s compatriot Raphael Varane from the centre of defence did not help Manchester United’s cause. However, Varane’s absence apart and United have been vulnerable at the back all season. In fact, they have kept just one clean sheet in their 11 matches in all competitions this season. This may well come back around the players in front of the backline not being good enough.
Solskjaer needs to turn things around despite a tough run of games
We have been here before on several occasions during the Solskjaer tenure as Manchester United boss. The Red Devils have been on poor runs of form and the Norwegian has managed to help his team to a big result or a string of results.
The former Molde boss needs to call upon all his managerial skills for the next run of games, which includes a double-header against dangerous Atalanta, a derby against Manchester City and a clash with bitter rivals Liverpool.
Those games may prove pivotal ones in Manchester United’s season. United needs a big upturn in results. Solskjaer seems to have the support of the United hierarchy and may have more leeway due to his status as a former Red Devils player. However, that support will not last if United’s current poor form continues and we may all find out if another head coach can do more with the resources available.
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Can Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turn things around at United (again)?