Why is Manchester United playing so badly now since Sir Alex Ferguson left?

The standout fixture of Gameweek 4 in the premier league saw Manchester United host Tottenham Hotspurs at Old Trafford

Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s men were looking to get their first points on board at home in the Premier League but Jose Mourinho had different plans. 

Manchester United took an early lead inside two minutes through a Bruno Fernandes penalty after Anthony Martial was clipped by Davinson Sanchez inside the penalty area. Business as usual, right? Not quite. 

A blistering display by Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son equaled by a calamitous defensive display by Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly along with Martial’s sending off helped Spurs lead the red devils 4-1 at half-time. 

We know Mourinho likes to get one over his former teams as he always feels that he has a point to prove to his former employers. 


Spurs continued to carve apart the fragile United defense in the second half with the match ending at the scoreline of 1-6 to Spurs. The last time Manchester United lost this big was in 2011 with the same score-line against their noisy neighbors and arch-rivals Manchester City. 

What has gone wrong for this Iconic club?

1) Recruitments:

Manchester United have spent roughly £850 million on transfers since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. This includes the world-record signing of Paul Pogba in 2016 for a fee of £89 million. Most of the signings done in the last 5-6 years are no longer at the club. 

Many of them have been last-ditch buys in the window and left the fans wondering of logic behind buying these players. Alexis Sanchez revealed that he had asked his agent whether he could head back to Arsenal after just one training session at Man United.  

The combined cost of the back four that started against Tottenham in the 1-6 loss adds up to £191 million. Surely you would expect such talent to be a defensive wall against any attack in the world. 

There have also been question marks over who controls the recruitment decision at the club, is it Ed Woodward or the manager. 


2) Loss of identity:

Under Sir Alex’s reign, Manchester United had created a unique place amongst their fans through their dynamic gameplay, counter-attacking football, leadership on and off the field, late goals and a never say die attitude. 

All these qualities have been missing evidently since 2013. The constant changing of managers hasn’t helped the club either. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment in January 2019 was seen as a step in the positive direction, which showed some intent from the club in terms of getting back their lost identity. 

A club that once boasted of leaders all over the pitch such as Steve Bruce, Peter Schmeichel, Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, and Wayne Rooney was struggling to find inspiration inside the locker room.  


3) Stability:

Manchester United has experimented with different managerial styles since 2013. David Moyes was seen as an ideal replacement at the time not due to his trophy cabinet but because of his stability at Everton. 

However, he couldn’t last a season in the hot seat, which led to United going for an experienced manager in the form of Louis Van Gaal. 

During his time, he was criticized for his style of play, which didn’t resonate with the United supporters. Hence, even after winning the FA Cup for the club in 2016, van Gaal parted ways with the club the same season. 

In came a certain Jose Mourinho who looked a perfect profile for this role taking into account his personality, track record, and premier league experience. 

His two and a half seasons at the club cannot be seen as a failure with him helping the club win their first Europa Cup and finishing 2nd in the premier league with the squad that he had at his disposal. Mourinho was never seen as a long term fix considering the fact that he didn’t last at any of his previous clubs for more than 3 years. 

After being sacked mid-season during the 2018-19 season, the Manchester United hierarchy put their faith in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He was one of their own, a club legend, a great individual, understands the United DNA. 

After starting his tenure on a high winning his first 8 games as a Manchester United manager, which earned him a permanent contract, things haven’t gone quite smoothly for Ole.  It would be harsh to point finger at him entirely for the club’s poor performances as he is still young as a manager and requires time to get things right at the club. 

Current Tactics:

Manchester United line up with a 4-2-3-1 formation under Ole Solskjaer. They enjoyed great form post the lockdown in June, which helped them achieve a flattering 3rd place finish in the premier league last season. 

Anthony Martial leads the line for United supported by Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, and Mason Greenwood in the attack. Their attack got a new dimension with the arrival of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon earlier this year. 

The major problem for Manchester United has been in the midfield and defensive areas. Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic have seen themselves struggle especially when they have been pressed aggressively by opponents. 

The defensive errors from the United defenders keep piling up with each game. The game against Tottenham was a perfect example of a ‘how not to defend guide’ for an upcoming young defender. 

How can The Red Devils turnaround their season?

Manchester United was one of the busiest teams on the final day of the transfer window as they struck deals for Edinson Cavani and Alex Telles. Cavani, 33, has been a free agent since leaving Paris Saint-Germain in June and his arrival would certainly lift the mood inside the United camp after their 1-6 humbling by Spurs over the weekend.   

Ole Solskjaer needs to find a way to get the best out of his current squad by instilling more desire, hunger, and aggression that has been missing since the start of the season. 

The baby faced assassin will have to make some hard decisions by dropping big names when they are not performing to stamp his authority on the team. It’s early days in the season and United have enough games in hand to turn their season around. 

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