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Great Ole debate: is there hope for Manchester United?

Last week action of Premier League was packed with an awful lot of roller-coaster action of exhilarating emotions. While Jose Mourinho on one end couldn’t manage to beat Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, Leicester City were outclassed by Pep Guardiola’s magicians. However, one the biggest meltdown on football twitter was an outcome of another story, where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men did another rum do. Despite the fact Norwegian manager did redeem some lost of his lost pride in one specular week recently, the clouds of uncertainty hover over him yet again as the bookmakers once again fancy his chances of leaving the club all across the sports betting space. And it’s been a matter of debate right from the beginning of the season and there’s still a significant divide between the fans regarding it, and the lingering question would probably linger in the equation throughout the season—can Ole survive this season? And even if he does, could he bring the glory days back in the red side of Manchester?

Let’s weigh up all the factors and see where Ole and his team can go by the end of the season.

Why so much drama?

2019 has been a strange year of United fans. Ole came to the helm (or the wheel), suddenly revitalised the club, got every fan excited (along with the owners) and bang! Ole gets a permanent contract. What happens next? You wouldn’t want to know.

A few losses came and then did a few more and this has been the story for the Red Devils for the whole year. They’ve had more losses than wins and Ole’s run as a manager is worst compared to the other managers
who have managed United in the last two decades. The most bizarre thing of all is how they still manage to perform at the highest level against top sides and yet manage to succumb to the mid-table or even the teams that are fighting to survive relegation. They’re even called Robinhood FC by their fans.

Problems are many. Some fans think it’s the manager’s naivety. Which, to some extent is also true. Sometimes, Ole’s decisions have been highly scrutinized. For example, there have been a lot of occasions when he has brought on Mata as a sub. A player who is well past his prime and it’s safe to say the Spaniard isn’t really a player who can come from the bench and change the game for you.

But what fans need to understand on that point is the fact that the manager barely has enough options to be utilised. Sometimes when the manager’s A plan doesn’t work, he’s forced to look at the bench. And when you look United’s bench options coupled with the injury crisis, the manager doesn’t have a lot of (or probably even one) game changers there.

Another problem with Ole’s Manchester United is the unconvincing displays against weaker sides and the team’s inability to break a low block. Almost every team now knows Manchester United’s biggest weakness is a low block and teams easily take the benefit of that.

To break a low-block, you need players that can break lines and bring in some creativity in the game, and that’s where some hope lies for the Norwegian. As soon as Paul Pogba returned to the team for the first time in recent months, against Watford, United took 10 shots in the span of 26 minutes he featured in—which clearly shows the potential of this team with Paul coming back into the side.

Is there hope?

Now, let’s take a look at the positives and see if there is any hope for this team. There have been a lot of positives. Like:
• Arguably last summer one of United’s best transfer window in recent years. All the signings have worked well and the club also got rid of the deadwood. One disappointing thing about it was the club failing to sign a mid and a forward, but January window gives them another chance to make amends.
• A lot of players have improved tremendously under Ole. Marcus Rashford is already having his best season, Fred is finally finding his place in the team and is consistently improving too. Daniel James, who didn’t really look like a player with more qualities than his pace, has now become a brilliant passer of the ball. Scott McTominay is improving game by game and has also become a leader in the mid now.

There are still a lot of positives to look at; but in all fairness, there’s no solidity about Ole’s managerial role at this club for the next season. If he really wants to survive here, the first thing he needs is a few new players who can walk into the first team and improve them. And secondly, he needs to find ways to not drop points against weaker sides—this is more realistic in the current scenario.

All in all, it’s understandable that United board should give him ample time to be assessed. But, the question is, would they?

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