Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's predicament this season
Manchester United had an excellent season last year, as they finished second behind Manchester City.
They looked impressive and were on verge of winning their first trophy after four years, but a defeat against Villarreal in the Europa League final put a dent in Manchester United's hopes of winning a trophy.
On that note we glance you through Manchester United’s defensive performance comparison, the impact of new signings, and what tactical changes should Ole make to return to winning ways.
Manchester United’s defensive stats comparison of the current season so far against the 2020/21 and 2019/20 season
|Shots on Target |
|Errors Leading |
|Clean Sheet %||11%||34%||34%|
It is clear from the above statistics that Ole's men have regressed with their defensive shape, with just one clean sheet so far this season, which says a lot about Man United's defensive endeavours this season.
Last year the Red Devils were indomitable, as they had one of the best campaigns finishing second and were unbeaten in 29-away matches. They kept setting records after records last season.
The team exhibited top-class performance and embarked on a winning streak, despite not winning any trophy.
Manchester United were bound to challenge for trophies in this campaign, after signing France defender Raphael Varane from Real Madrid, England winger Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, and Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus, the was team meant to be better.
The Red Devils started the season well but subsequently started to deteriorate performance-wise and suffered defeats after defeats. Ole was on the verge of sacking, albeit the board gave him more 2-3 games to turn things around.
Impact of Ronaldo since joining Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo started his new era well with Manchester United but drastically downgraded in subsequent, games. Many pundits have questioned, has the Portuguese man hindered United’s gameplay since joining?
Despite having many playmakers in the side, the team has failed to get Ronaldo the ball in dangerous places.
In his 483 Premier League minutes Ronaldo’s shots per game went from 5.1 to 4.2, and key passes from 1.1 to 0.7, his dribbling 1.8 to 0.3. Ronald has started every game and therefore United’s high pressing game has gone down to the wire.
He is yet to register a tackle in the Premier League since returning to Man United and ranks 384th for presses per 90 minutes and 385th for successful ones. His touches per 90 mins is 45% lower than three of United’s outfield players.
"He can [legitimately] argue he's been the best footballer ever, but in terms of him making Manchester United a better team? No," said Souness after the Liverpool defeat.
He has the same rating as Jesse Lingard, Douglas Luiz, and Demarai Gray, despite starting all the game for United.
It's either he is poorly used or washed up which is not believable, because Ronaldo is scoring goals after goals for Portugal, so it could be the former one? Whatever it is Ole should start using him to his potential as Ronaldo is really dangerous in the box.
What should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer do to improve his side?
The Norwegian manager is running out of time at Old Trafford and will need to tweak his tactics to make full use of his star-studded squad.
High-pressing game, one of the most important plays United has lacked this season. Against Liverpool, many United’s players were out of position which allowed the Reds to exploit their defenses. The team made 72 'pressures' in the game compared to Jurgen Klopp's side's 134.
Ole will have to work on his players’ off-the-ball movement to play smart football and ensure they secure positive results in their next matches.
Solskjaer should play two strikers, Cavani and Ronaldo. Edinson Cavani presses frequently which will give the team momentum and a ball-winning attitude from Cavani.
A midfield that can set the tone of the game for Manchester United, not having CDM this season who can switch things up as the side looked lethargic and cumbersome in Midfield this season. United midfielders have made only 312 ball carries in their previous game while Liverpool made a total of 507.
Solskjaer has two masterclass midfielders Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, but the unavailability of a proper CM who can bring a bit of stability into the game which Scot McTominay and Fred has lacked. Ole should offer Donny van de Beek a chance he most probably will flourish in that position.
A well-organised defense, the only area where Manchester United have been abysmal. It has been the most infuriating aspect of United’s performance this season. Compared to their Euro 2020 performance Shaw and Maguire have looked like headless chickens in United’s games.
Most of the time Maguire has made frequent errors with poor positioning and late tackles, while Varane has shown his impact since joining.
Lindelof and Maguire's partnership hasn’t looked great, so it would be great if Varnae return sooner so the center-backs can dovetail and form a robust defense.
Featured Image Credits: extra.ie