In the sometimes myopic world of the Premier League, a big question looms for Manchester United and the boss it’s been publicly backing.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw his side lose 1-0 at Newcastle United on Sunday at St. James’ Park to remain on nine points.
He says the loss comes down to injuries and a bad first half.
“The first half was the sloppiest we’ve been,” Solskjaer said. “In the second half we dominated but we didn’t create. We’ve not changed a lot. We’ve played the same way and stuck to our principles. The players are working hard. We’ve had six out from the Chelsea game and that’s going to affect results. But we’ll work hard and get the quality back.”
Next up is a visit from Liverpool after the international break. Even if Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial return, you’d have to bet that the Red Devils might get run out of their own building by their hated rivals.
Solskjaer, however, says maybe they are the right team at the right time.
“That’s a perfect game for us. The international break is also at the perfect time because their heads need a bit of airing. It doesn’t help having a meeting tomorrow. They will go away with their national teams, meet their teammates and come back fresh. We have had a good time together, we have prepared since the first day of pre-season, we have stuck to the same principles. We have not got the result today but we have to keep carrying on.”
I’m going to go ahead and say that that’s a pretty bold sentiment, Ole.
United has seven games in 21 days between international breaks, and it’s wild that United may have to consider both its league and Europa League lives over the next 24-48 hours.
Consider the fixture list. Not only does United need results against three non-traditional powers, but it could lose to two big rivals while dealing with Europa challenges.
Oct. 20 – v. Liverpool (PL)
Oct. 24 – at Partizan Belgrade (UEL)
Oct. 27 – at Norwich City (PL)
Oct. 30 – at Chelsea (League Cup)
Nov. 2 – at Bournemouth (PL)
Nov. 7 – v. Partizan Belgrade (UEL)
Nov. 10 – v. Brighton (PL)
17 – Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed permanently on March 28th, Manchester United have won just 17 points in 16 @premierleague matches (W4 D5 L7), the fourth-worst tally among the 17 ever-present teams in that time. Wheel.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 6, 2019
The Red Devils are as close to the Bottom Three (two points) as the top half of the table. It’s been miserable, as United’s only Premier League win since the 4-0 season-opening beating of Chelsea was a fortunate 1-0 against Leicester City.
Goalkeeper David De Gea‘s emotion was visceral in talking to cameras after the game, saying that United has to improve “everything.”
“It’s a hard moment for us,” he said. “The most difficult time since I’ve been here. I don’t know why, what is happening. Sorry to the fans. We will keep fighting. Come on, we conceded a goal from a comer. That cannot happen. It’s unacceptable.”
It isn’t. And someone will soon be held to the coals for these awful performances. Perhaps Martial and Pogba can rescue the Red Devils, who were also without Victor Lindelof on Sunday, but they are needed now more than ever.