Manchester United fans around the world witnessed a disastrous season that made so many of us wonder what happened to the team. But maybe a better question to ask is Why did United have such a wretched season? I believe other than the fact that our players lacked the pride, passion and effort to win games, there were other factors at play that contributed to our downfall.
Firstly, changing managers during the middle of the season didn’t help us because that destabilizes a team. When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho as the caretaker manager on December 19, 2018 for the rest of the season, it was a move that was necessary. Mourinho had many poor results and couldn’t seem to turn United around into top contenders in order to compete for titles.
Secondly Solskjaer didn’t have any top-flight experience as a manager in any of the top leagues in Europe. His strategies and methods worked wonders for the first two-and-a half months and then things started to fall apart. Another thing many people didn’t know was that the fitness of the players weren’t up to par. There was a source that reported to Sky Sports news that when Ole arrived at the club he realized that the players fitness were sub-par. So what Solskjaer did was implement a new training regimen that would get the players back to their optimal levels as quickly as possible.
His training methods and style worked well for a short period of time and then everything just backfired on him and the team. According to that source he said that the tough new training methods that Ole employed that worked temporarily all in a sudden wasn’t working anymore. That’s because the player’s bodies reacted negatively to the rigours of the new training regimen that Ole employed when he first became the caretaker manager.
Is this the reason why maybe we saw a huge drop in performances and such terrible results by the team? That is an important question that all United fans should get an answer to. No other sports channel or site investigated or came up with this new piece of information other than Sky Sports news. If this information is true, and I suspect that it is then our performances weren’t just because of a lack of energy, focus, pride, or effort, but a lack of fitness that became detrimental to the team late in the season.
Most United fans were happy when one of our own was chosen to become the new manager. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a real legend at Old Trafford and for the first 2 months or so we were winning with the Norwegian. It looked as though that fairy tale ride of success would never end.
But things started to go south for United when we suffered a 2-0 loss away to Arsenal on Sunday, March 10th. Then we would go on to lose to Wolves on March 16, in a 2-1 loss at Molineux in the FA Cup. After getting knocked out of the competition, we then had another loss away to Wolves on April 2.
So usually whenever United would lose any game in the past under Sir Alex Ferguson we almost always bounced back to win the next one, or the one after that. I started to become concerned when we couldn’t win games consistently. We had a few wins during that time, but you could see the body language and overall standard of play dropped substantially after those losses.
Even though we had home wins against West Ham and Watford during the period of March to April, we just couldn’t win back to back games after the two Wolves and Arsenal games. That was worrying to see this happen. One of the things that I also saw in the last few years is that we’re not producing very good talent like we used to.
The last bunch of players that graduated from the academy into the first team of real quality was Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Scott McTominay. Andreas Pereira is pretty good but he isn’t of the same caliber of those players. That’s one of the reasons why they play more regularly for the first team.
That’s something that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said that he’ll rectify for next season. He promised in an interview with manutd.com that he’ll give more young players from the academy opportunities to play in games next season. Whenever you don’t have a club’s youth academy not producing good solid talent on a regular basis then that deprives the first team squad of the potential youthful energy and new pace they could have had. A young player many times can add a new or extra dimension that maybe is lacking in a club’s senior squad. So this is an encouraging and an important development for United.
Lastly, Manchester United still haven’t hired a director of football to take care of securing club targets and transfers of players. There has been talk of United bringing in ex-players like Rio Ferdinand and Darren Fletcher. None of these people should be candidates. We need someone who has had an excellent track record of success as a sporting director or director of football. We need someone with a good wealth of experience to not only target the right players that would be the right fit for the club, but ones with a long track record of success.
Ed Woodward isn’t the right person for the job he has had a mixed bag of results at United ever since he replaced David Gill in 2013. Woodward has been quite poor at finding the right players that will be the right fit for the club. He was an accountant and an investment banker at PricewaterhouseCoopers and JP Morgan Chase respectively. He isn’t a football man that has a great knowledge of the game and its players where he could properly fill the role as Sporting Director.
So here are some names of Sporting directors at other clubs I think United should take a look at. Fabio Paratici is the Sporting director for Juventus and look at the amazing success he has contributed to the club. They have won 7 straight Serie A titles and some Coppa Italia titles along the way. According to the Bleacher Report, Paratici has been linked with the Director of football role at Manchester United.
Another one is Hasan Salihamidžić of Bayern Munich, who was a former Bayern player. Bayern has won so many titles including just last season they won the Bundesliga title and the German Cup again. There is also Barcelona’s Sporting Director Eric Abidal. Abidal is a former Barcelona player and became the Sporting Director there last summer. Barcelona won La Liga and got to the finals of the Copa del Ray last season. There’s no doubt that Frenkie de Jong who is already on his way to Barcelona and Matthijs de Ligt who could follow him there is credited to the good work of Abidal as Barca’s sporting director.
These are the kind of candidates that United should be looking at. We may not get one of these candidates to come to the club, but we need people like them to fill this role. So overall as you can see a lot has gone wrong at United and its up to the board, the manager and his staff to solve these issues. I hope that they will be solved as soon as possible.