Manchester United’s 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday ended a miserable 11 days that had seen the team lose three out of four matches.
Pressure is beginning to mount on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer once again from many fans, journalists and critics while others claim poor running is largely due to circumstances beyond his control.
It could be said that luck was not on United’s side. They lost Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw due to injury during yesterday’s match. The normally flawless Bruno Fernandes took a penalty over the bar; Villa’s goal could have been ruled out on another day due to Ole Watkins’ offside on the goal line, bringing down David de Gea.
United have scored 55 shots in the last two games without scoring, which again can be considered unusual and/or unfortunate.
These aren’t excuses, but they don’t paint the whole picture. Maguire and Shaw have been part of a defense that has kept just one clean sheet in all competitions this season. Yesterday’s early errors by both players could have led to an earlier goal for Aston Villa more than they would have been.
Despite the arrival of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid and specialist set-piece coach Eric Ramsey over the summer, the defense is still weak and the goal that came yesterday was again from a dead ball.
In the pre-match press conference, Solskjaer bemoaned the fact that his team has been denied penalty kicks this season. That may be the case, but his side should not count on penalties to beat the likes of Young Boys in the Champions League, West Ham and Aston Villa at home domestically.
If United had 27 shots on Wednesday without scoring, it could be argued that they were shooting from too far, too frequently, or too desperately, when a great ball and pass would be a better option. It’s something the manager and/or coaches are expected to fix before the next game. But there were 28 goalless shots in the next game. It is clear that the problem has not been addressed.
One consequence of the likes of Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Diogo Dalot in all these shootings from unexpected positions is that Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the world’s best goalscorer, was bereft of opportunities. He only took four of those 28 shots.
This must be due either to tactical failure or to the team’s blatant disregard for tactical instructions. In either case, the responsible hangs up with the manager.
In an article titled “What’s Happening to Manchester United”, the athlete“Finding a balance, where players understand each other’s rhythm, is essential,” says Laurie Whitwell of the staff. “That’s up to Solskjaer. There is something very wrong when Ronaldo fails to score a single shot on goal.
Another problem that should be placed at the manager’s door is the lack of control in midfield. Despite stellar performances by talented Donny van de Beek, Solskjaer is persistently stuck with a weak midfield partnership between Scott McTominay and Fred, but the pair don’t seem to be able to control the tempo of the match and dominate midfield.
Whitwell notes that “Scott McTominay could see a sign of the game’s instability after 15 half-time touches, with Douglas Luiz on 16 touches, among the lowest totals of all players. The midfield was often crossed with long passes or a drill down the flanks. United got On 401 passes to 266 for Villa, they had a success rate of 78 percent to 70 percent, but their cadence felt erratic.
Linked to the ‘McFred’ midfield issue is that one of the world’s best midfielders, Paul Pogba, was again suspended on the left wing to accommodate the duo, while one of the world’s brightest young specialist winger players, new signing Jadon Sancho, who was from He was supposed to provide cross passes for Ronaldo, and he did not even participate in the starting lineup.
The problems need to be addressed quickly, but many fans doubt they’ll be around, in a sense, since Solskjaer took the reins nearly three years ago. Sometimes it seems that he simply does not learn from his mistakes.
United will play a must-win home game in the Champions League against Villarreal on Wednesday. They may be without Maguire, Shaw, and the suspended Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and they will face the team that beat them in the Europa League final last season and who got a superb point against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu yesterday.
Solskjaer tends to pull a rabbit out of the hat when he needs to do it again on Wednesday, otherwise questions like this will escalate very quickly and the pressure may start to become unbearable.