What next for Manchester United?
This year, the Premier League fanfare has been built around Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. But dig beneath the surface, and there’s been plenty of chaos to watch unfold at each team’s biggest rival, Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho’s United were a major disappointment before the Portuguese’s sacking. Not only did they fail to compete for the title, despite coming second last year, but for some time their live matches today were games played at a boringly poor standard, with the club’s best players falling well short of their best abilities.
In the end, Mourinho, found his job untenable, like he seems to at every club in his third season. His dismissal and the corresponding advent of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has brought results which even the greatest optimists could not have expected. Now, in football live betting, United’s performances have become even more popular.
Tactically, Solskjaer hasn’t changed. The core of the team is still built around a four man defence, a rugged midfield anchored by Nemanja Matic and spearheaded by the rampaging Paul Pogba, and complimented by serious flair out wide.
Mourinho’s exit and the results Solskjaer has achieved best demonstrate and highlight just how toxic things had become this year. Why does this always happen? What is it about Mourinho’s methods that leads to a consistent paradigm of first season establishment, second season boom, and third season bust? Why do his players seem to grow tired of his methods over such a consistently similar time period?
Mourinho is an intelligent man, a shrewd tactician, and when times are good, a talented man manager who can evoke amazing responses from his players. The tributes he’s received from his ex-players, such as John Terry, Angel Di Maria and Marco Materazzi who idolise him, are a testament to that. But when times are bad, his ability to control a crisis, and to limit the damage, seems to wane. Mourinho is a volatile character and his sides achieve volatile results. He must choose his next club well– if at his next club he fails to achieve the high standards he’s set himself throughout his career, there will then be enough evidence for his critics to officially label him as ‘finished’ and a ‘has-been’.
As for United, Ed Woodward now has a big decision to make as he restructures the club to move away from the traditional standard of an all-powerful manager who entirely controls on-pitch matters. It’s worth remembering as well that Solskjaer has yet to fully demonstrate his ability just yet, and it will be more interesting to see how he fares when times are bad. Will he be able to look after his players when the knives are out? Will he be able to motivate and discipline his players when they step out of line? Will he himself be able to keep performing when the glaring pressures of being United manager rear their ugly faces?
United again find themselves writing off another season. The club have yet to truly find their way since the departures of Ferguson and Gill in 2013. Woodward’s Mourinho experiment ultimately failed (despite some successes), and here we are, three years further down the line with a renewed lack of continuity and identity. The next six months are crucial for United to pick their strategy and to finally execute a meaningful long term plan which is honest with the club’s ideals. Ideals that have long since been innocuously tossed under the rug in the pursuit of short term gain.
If they get it wrong again, be it with Solskjaer or otherwise, fans may finally conclude that the problem ultimately lies with Ed Woodward and the club’s board. It will be interesting to see whether Solskjaer proves he can deliver, and if Woodward will act on that as he plans to hire a fourth permanent manager after just six years.
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