BOURNEMOUTH — By the end of this weekend Manchester United could be 10 points off the top four following the first 11 games of the Premier League season.
They’ve now lost to Bournemouth, Newcastle United, West Ham United and Crystal Palace this season.
This is their new reality. It is ugly.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tried his best to put on a brave face after their 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth on Saturday, but he couldn’t put much gloss on United’s chances of finishing in the top four after another disappointing setback.
“It’s a test of character when you come down to places like this. 1-0 down at half time. I though the response second half, at least we went for it, we didn’t stop trying. But it was the lack of quality that couldn’t get us a point or three,” Solskajer said, exhaling. “Two more games before the international break. A chance ton Thursday to quality in Europe and then Brighton at home. We need a response. Games like this you need to win if you want to challenge for the top four. Today we are disappointed.”
But the more United had the ball, the more they struggled to create chances as Bournemouth sat back, soaked up the pressure and their stubborn defense stifled a lackluster United.
Solskjaer lamented United’s lack of creativity in the final third and even though he admitted he could’ve freshened up his squad, when asked if they need new attacking talent in January here’s what United’s manager said.
“To win games you need to score goals. I’m sure Anthony and Marcus are going to get their share of goals. Anthony is going to improve,” Solskjaer said. “We need more creativity but we’ve got loads of players here in the squad who could create more. It is not just looking outside. We have to deal with what we have.”
What United have is a squad which will struggle to get anywhere near the top four this season.
That is their new reality.
United will try to deny it and they will point to youngsters being given opportunities in order to build a clearer identity and brighter future. But right here, right now they are nothing more than a team which can finish in the top six, at best.
There will be better times ahead and United’s inconsistency is the hallmark of a team rebuilding. Solskjaer knows results must get better but in truth, this is where United are at.
Losing to midtable teams is their new reality and this long rebuilding process is nowhere near the end game. It has only just begun and the growing pains are plentiful.