The Board must take the blame for the mess at Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) /

Firing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer won’t help Manchester United in the short term. Liverpool versus Manchester United is arguably the biggest fixture in English football.

The rivalry between the Mancunians and Scousers runs as deep as the hadal zone (the very bottom of the deepest sea trench). Liverpool are jubilant after thrashing their biggest rivals. For United, the result is embarrassing.

Solskjaer owes Jürgen Klopp a gesture of gratitude

Liverpool‘s 5-0 demolition should surprise no one. The Red Men are in dominant form and Solskjaer’s problems go beyond the start of the season. The club have not kept a clean sheet since they won 1-0 at Wolves in late August.

On Sunday, United’s gaffer sat in the dugout with the look of a lost soul. Liverpool’s ability to score at will paralysed Solskjaer’s ability to think like a tactician capable of changing the game. Trailing 2-0, Solskjaer stood unsure of himself or his team. An early first-half substitution would have signalled his players, and the Old Trafford crowd, that he had a plan. Instead, he stood on the edge of his technical area, arms folded.

If the board was to conduct a post-mortem on Sunday’s catastrophic result, they must start with a period of self-reflection. Spells at Cardiff City and Molde does not amount to a CV worthy of occupying one of the biggest seats in world football.

The decision to appoint a manager without a proven track record is one the board must live with. The board didn’t manage the risk of hiring an inexperienced manager.

On Sunday, Liverpool handed the club a haymaker.

Mo Salah scored a hat-trick, but it disappointed me to see Liverpool taking their foot off the gas at 5-0. Despite the scoreline, Liverpool were not at their best. The visitors turned the ball over, but they won the ball back repeatedly. Per FBref, Manchester United rank last in winning back possession (72 times).

Solskjaer can’t fix Manchester United’s problems

Football has developed into a high-tempo pressing game. Excellent teams choke the opposition by outnumbering the ball carrier. United’s problem starts with Cristiano Ronaldo. The 5 times Ballon d’Or winner hasn’t lost his touch, but he has lost his legs. To put that statement into context, I wrote about Ronaldo’s lack of defensive play prior to Sunday’s game.

"Per FBref, since his return to Old Trafford, Ronaldo has pressed 6 times in 31 attempts. In comparison, during the same period, Mo Salah has pressed 36 times in 109 pressures.Salah is relentless with and without the ball. He has pressed 11 times fewer than United Midfielder, Paul Pogba, and five fewer than Chelsea’s Jorginho. Ronaldo doesn’t have the legs to maintain a high-tempo game for 90 minutes.(via Goal Line)"

Barcelona and Spain (2008-2012) were relentless without the ball. Xavi and Andrés Iniesta ran the opposition ragged to the point whereby teams sat on the edge of their own 18-yard box. Liverpool’s style is to win the ball back quickly and counter-attack. The marauding runs of Trent Alexander-Arnold on one flank and Andy Robertson on the other, can overwhelm defences.

On Sunday, United didn’t have any answers for Liverpool’s movement, or desire to win the game. Teams are playing around United’s midfield. Leicester played out from the back in last weekend’s 4-2 win – in a game when United’s individuals pressed half-heartedly.

Discipline is a problem for United in all areas of the pitch. Paul Pogba’s performance was unacceptable for a player of his reputation. The French midfielder received a straight red card on the hour for a dangerous tackle on Naby Keita. Ronaldo was lucky not to see red after a petulant kick at Curtis Jones.

Liverpool’s attack is sublime. The referee’s assistant did not flag once them for offside in 90 minutes. United can’t create chances down the flanks. Liverpool caught Ronaldo and co offside 7 times in Super Sunday’s drubbing.

Spending money to get out of trouble seldom works. Jadon Sancho sat on the bench, looking like he did not want to be at Old Trafford. The former Dortmund forward has made seven appearances this season, four from the bench.

Liverpool’s 5-0 win will hurt Manchester United fans for generations

Liverpool supporters have a smorgasbord of chants. The Kopites will sing about Sunday’s victory for years to come. The wheels have come off the track under Solskjaer’s tenure. Things could get worse for United fans in November with games against Manchester City (h) and a visit to Stamford Bridge at the end of the month.

Related Story. An interesting week ahead for those at Old Trafford. light

The Manchester United board has a binary decision to make, fire Solskjaer or stick with him. Solskjaer is out of his depth, and now is the time to panic. A new manager could breathe life into a lame duck. One win in five games is not good enough for Manchester United.