Man United ‘further behind’ in progress

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Manchester United currently sit seven points off the top four as we approach the halfway point of the 2019-20 Premier League season.

In two words their season so far has been: Weird and underwhelming.

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Speaking after their defeat at bottom club Watford and ahead of their Boxing Day clash against Newcastle United (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) Solskjaer revealed he expected the Red Devils to be further along than they are right now.

“We knew this season was going to be a season of some ups and downs,” Solskjaer said. “This season will be used to find a team and a squad for next season, but hopefully we can speed this process up by getting more results. I expect us to be more consistent, definitely more experienced and learning from these setbacks. At the moment we’re a little bit further behind than what I was hoping for.”

United are a real Jekyll and Hyde team at the moment and that is to be expected with so many young players in their starting lineup week in, week out. Their wins against Man City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Leicester City, plus a draw against Liverpool, proves what they are capable of but their inability to break down opponents from the lower reaches of the table (their five defeats have come against Watford, West Ham, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Newcastle) continues to be a problem.

There is promise for the rest of this season and beyond though.

Marcus Rashford is flourishing up top. New signings Daniel James, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have shown flashes of their best but are still settling in. United hope David De Gea won’t keep making costly errors. And Paul Pogba is finally back fit, although how he slots into their counter-attacking team against the big boys remains to be seen.

Solskjaer’s comments show he isn’t in denial and realizes United need a positive second half of the season and to at least be serious contenders for a top four finish. He’s right about building for next season but in the meantime he will be feeling real disappointment with the games United have lost as they continue to make the same mistakes and are far too easy to defend against.

So far this season the Red Devils have taken one step forward and then one step back.