Manchester United are undoubtedly one of the biggest football clubs in the world. In terms of their history, finances, stadium and fan base, they can compare to anyone on the planet.
That is why their Champions League exit at the hands of RB Leipzig simply cannot be accepted. Admittedly, they were handed a very tough group, which included PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir, along with the classy German outfit. Nevertheless, United should still have expected to qualify when you consider the resources they have, but once again, they came up short. However, the most worrying aspect is that nobody was really surprised because the standards at Old Trafford have slipped so much.
🗣️ “We won’t have our fans [on Saturday] but we’ll have to try and make their fans quiet and edgy,” says Solskjaer.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 4, 2020
A quick glance at the latest football odds shows that you can get 16/1 for the Red Devils to win the Premier League. So, even in this season, one of the most unpredictable ever, the neutrals still don’t give United much of a chance. What’s also worrying for the fans is that nobody would dispute that, as the side have fallen way behind Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and even Tottenham.
From top to bottom, they are a club that lacks an identity or a plan. That was encapsulated by the fact that key figures are now apparently demanding the club look into appointing a director of football once again. They wanted one, they didn’t want one and now they want one again.
Ultimately, that lies with the Glazers, right at the very top. They need to set out a clear vision that everyone can buy into, and they then must appoint the right people in the right places. Whether that means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer keeps his job is open to debate, although the idea that he should be the United manager because he ‘knows the club’ is astounding in today’s game.
That lack of planning has also been evident on the pitch. After years in charge, Solskjaer still hasn’t settled on a formation and key men don’t play to their potential under his guidance.
The saving grace for the Norwegian, and those above him, is that United have somehow managed to just about avoid a catastrophe in the past. They can go 2-0 down to Southampton, but individual magic will rescue them. Similarly, a poor Premier League performance can be overshadowed by a magnificent win in Paris in Europe. They would be on the cusp of a disaster, yet they would just about get out of it.
That didn’t happen against Leipzig though, even though they nearly managed the unthinkable after trailing 3-0 with 20 minutes to play. In the end, though, they were out. We all know the importance of playing in the Champions League to the money men, so the recent elimination will have hurt. It should mean those awkward questions are asked, and then action can be taken.
As one of the richest and most powerful clubs in the world, it’s about time Manchester United started using that to their advantage. The embarrassment of falling into the Europe League, again, has to be the wake-up call that fans have been warning about for years as they look to build a team that can thrive domestically and in Europe, as they should.