TIME IS UP

by | Nov 8, 2021 | General | 0 comments

Sky Sports (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer)
After the disappointing and humiliating 5-0 loss to arch-rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford, the pressure mounted even more on Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Everyone was convinced that was the curtain call for Solskjaer but the Norwegian remained in the job to oversee a commanding 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur. Surely they have brushed the poor result aside, right? Wrong.

Midweek, United journeyed to Bergamo to face Italian side Atalanta in the Champions League where they came from behind twice, thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo, to draw the game 2-2. Even though Ronaldo has made it clear that this is what United have bought him for, and even if he is the greatest goalscorer of all time, they cannot continue to rely on him for every game. Individual brilliance is something that has bailed out this side a lot of times and it cannot continue.

While for his tenure I’ve been a strong supporter of Solskjaer, it has come to show that he may be finished here at United. During his interim period when he took over from Jose Mourinho in December 2018, he went until March undefeated including that classic night in Paris coming from 2-0 down, with more than 6 first team players out with injury/suspension. The main problem that most fans have with Solskjaer has been the lack of identity. Now I am not sure if everyone is watching what I’m seeing but I think Ole is the only Premier League manager who had a different striker every year.

During his first full season it was clear what the identity was; tiki-taka, through the lines with the central striker occupying spaces between the full-back and center-back. Players such as Martial who played through the middle very effectively, James and Rashford who are both very quick down the flanks, Lingard, and then later Bruno, the intricate dynamo in behind the striker, the ball-winning midfielder whether Fred or McTominay or Matic the build-up play was easily recognized. The next season when French midfielder Paul Pogba returned, then the inclusions of Alex Telles and most notably the king of Uruguay Edinson Cavani the style of play changed. Instead of the ball in behind, Cavani who’s not much of a runner was more of a false nine to have the build-up centralized instead of down the flanks. This season the style of play is really hard to recognize now that Ronaldo is in the team.

Sky Sports ( Cristiano Ronaldo)
When the season began at home to Leeds, we witnessed Mason Greenwood through the middle, and the style of play was recognized; Pogba of the left cutting in to create a presence alongside Bruno Fernandes, Greenwood making runs from out to in to create more space for his teammates, Fred and McTominay creating the energy in midfield winning duels and getting the ball forward, and incorporating Aaron Wan-Bissaka into the attack from the right-hand side. Since Ronaldo has come in, the team has been unrecognizable. Even being one of the greatest of all time, he is not a sole striker. Isolation is not Ronaldo’s game as he needs a strike partner or an attacking midfielder making runs so he can peel off the side to stretch his legs. Not saying he is a problem in the team, but you see the contrast with him than without. A prime example is the game against Everton where he was on the bench from the start. United were pinging the ball around playing really attractive football, not allowing Everton any chances and then Anthony Martial opened the scoring and brought United into the half up 1-0. When Ronaldo came on the team’s level somehow dropped with untidy passes, weak play, and atrocious finishing.

I still can’t blame the manager for the latest performances because the players just look dejected. Even if that is a coaching issue, Solskjaer didn’t hire himself, didn’t come in with a massive CV like the others but he has done much more than the rest. He stabilized the club with consecutive top 3 finishes for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. Firing Solskjaer just puts United back where they were in 2014 when David Moyes was hired and fired after 9 months.

Sky Sports ( Erik Ten Hag)
If a new manager is to come in, now would be the perfect timing. The international window is where you can get to see the players who weren’t selected for the Internationals and also see how those international players perform. Reports have emerged that ex-Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is who the board is pursuing but that would be a stupid decision just on a moral decision. There is no way a man who previously coached your biggest rivals should manage the team. The manager I think who should take the reins from Solskjaer is one who can incorporate the youth into the squad while making the egos of the experienced players remain calm. He is Erik Ten Hag.

The Ajax manager has his team doing wonders in the Eredivise and the Champions League. In fact during, the calendar year of 2021, he has seen his team score over 50 goals and concede only 4. Defensively sound, tactically proficient, and lethal in attack, these are the qualities that Manchester United needs in their dugout to bring them back to the promised land of what Sir Alex left them with. Will Joel Glazer pull the trigger though? He has seen what it has done to get a tactical coach with world-class players in the team, he owns the Buccaneers. This is a decision that may change the whole shape of the league if it is done.

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Well, I am 18 years old currently undergoing my Bachelors of Science in Media and communications. I'm currently in my first semester and I would like to be a sports analyst in the future. I am also from Jamaica. I would like to work at one of the biggest sports companies in the world (ESPN/SKY/BT) but everyone needs a start and I would love it if you were to give me that start.

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