So we’re a few games into the season and I have to admit it’s not been completely impressive from United.
The first thing I feel is now apparent is that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is once again searching for what his best eleven is. We’ve seen different teams in every game. He’s looking for players he can count on again – players who can do it consistently.
Maybe he’s doing it because it’s the start of the season. Maybe he’s looking to say he intends to use a different team depending on what the game and who the opposition is. That is going to be a difficult task when you consider that just one or two changes can leave United looking pretty weak.
I can understand why he might think it’s a good idea to rotate – a lot of games coming up, the need to get players up to speed so that when they are called upon they are ready. It should be the case that when a player gets a chance they seize it with both hands but these days it seems to be an excuse for them to not play well. It’s difficult to find a harmony and a happy balance even when everyone is playing well.
If there is one thing that’s obvious it’s that Ole doesn’t need to look at the players to see how good they are anymore. He knows what they can and can’t offer, how they fit in. He won’t be able to afford to make the changes in the League Cup to look at players because now he needs to win a trophy and that is going to take his strongest squad.
I just don’t think United can afford to go any weaker than their first choice squad for any game. The Champions League draw was difficult – you have wonder if United as they are are equipped to deal with it. We are going to have to just do the best we can but I hope that people appreciate the stage we are currently at when it comes to expectations.
The transfer market is close to ending and no matter what eleven he does play, to me it’s obvious that he needs to strengthen. He need a central defender to go alongside Harry Maguire. We saw it last season and it’s already happening this season – we’re conceding far too many goals and that is going to cost us in the long run.
Yes, some players need to be moved on as well, but Ole will be keeping his eyes open for the potential of a special player coming in. As we know, those players come with a premium. Let’s take Jadon Sancho as an example – everyone is saying that at £100m or more he will need to hit the ground running with some world class performances. That’s right. But if he doesn’t, the finger will just be pointed at Ole again, and he’s not going to get any mercy from either the press or the fixture list.
Or, for that matter, from the players. I always say there’s no loyalty anymore in football. Ole has given these players a chance – certainly in comparison to the man returning to Old Trafford this weekend, Jose Mourinho. Mourinho is the classic mercenary when it comes to management – buy the best to win the most and if it doesn’t work he moves on. Ole obviously believes in developing and patience, two qualities you don’t often see in the game at this level, and certainly when it comes to patience and time I don’t see people being as generous to him as he is to others. I say that for the players as well as the owners. They need to give him 100%.
Even if those standards are unrealistic with the way the game is at the minute I would say I would much prefer to see them at Manchester United than I would want to see Jose Mourinho.
Ole has his critics but I hope this weekend will be a reminder that the grass is not always greener – certainly when it comes to the way both managers conduct themselves.
Ole can only do so much, though, and he’ll be swimming against the tide if he doesn’t get the support. Let’s hope that in my next column I’ll be talking about some of the new signings.