Manchester United: A shaky lot but with a lot of potential

Manchester United's Paul Pogba (Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Manchester United's Paul Pogba (Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

Manchester United have been too inconsistent for even an optimist to find solace in.

After the defeat to Istanbul Başakşehir in the Champions League Group Stage, the first ever such victory for the legendary Turkish outfit, serious questions must be asked. Is it time for Manchester United to panic? Is it time for them to consider some alternative innovation to the ones they are currently tinkering with?

Ed Woodward has shown patience with the former club legend as boss after firing Jose Mourinho after far more success. For United, keeping Ole is a tacit confession that their reactionary run of post-Fergie boss firings were flawed and not entirely reasonable for building a strong club or culture.

Firing him is an even further admission of this, considering the pedigrees of bosses who were relinquished for greater success. Louis van Gaal and, “the Special One” both come to mind of course. But the truth of the matter is far more complicated than simple firings or hirings; the truth lies as much within the club, as well as their players, as within the boss.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United: A Match Made in Heaven?

The truth is a bit of both; Solskjaer, by the standards of his recent predecessors should absolutely be axed for the lackluster, inconsistent form in both Europe and England. The amount of talent and capital available at United is staggering and results cannot fall so far from the standard they wish to uphold; this is especially true considering the form they showed after the league restart. There are other sides to everything of course, but it has been disappointing and uninspired to say the least.

On the other hand, poor form is not exclusively the fault of the manager. His players, the aforementioned multimillion dollar men with names like Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and more must play with the same sense of great urgency in each game that they do in some. As we all can see, even one game where tensions are relaxed can be the clubs undoing.

And so which is it? Who can we blame more? And when we find out who we can blame, how can we proactive? All are fair questions, and yet, the dichotomy of the manager is also the dichotomy of his players and their club as a whole; but we can’t get rid of the whole club, can we?

No, no we cannot. And so for now, Manchester United fans are likely stuck with the Norwegian as skipper because, like his players, he has games where he is listless and matches where he is vibrant. The entire team operates in much the same way and at this point, it is difficult to tell where it began and who can take ultimate blame.  One could say the administration, the club itself, and that would be fair to remark, but will it win United some hardware? What can be done regarding that?

Innovations in northern England: The Same old Fix

It will come down to the boss and his players. The players are inspiring when they themselves are inspired and so, one might suspect that, like he himself after the departure of Mourinho, Solskjaer could find himself replaced by someone the board believes is more capable of inspiring with tactics and charisma than the Norwegian.

And there are names, big names, that could be seen as replacements. Two of the three that come to mind off the top of my head are Italians with pedigrees, although only one has translated to England before. Maurizio Sarri and Massimiliano Allegri are geniuses in their own unique ways, and not everyone appreciates them for this; the third, an out of work Argentine, might be best of them all if he’ll return to England for coaching.

Sarri is a well known smoker who, Juventus players said, would have the entire locker room smelling like stale tobacco. His style. Of Sarriball has been celebrated and mocked with equal ambition, as has his rigid nature regarding its development and utility with players and talent. He has found success wherever he has gone and major hardware in the last two in particular, yet he has also found the door after a season at Chelsea and Juventus respectively; might he be new blood for United to grow with?

Or could it be Allegri? He has won Serie A and domestic titles so many times, repeatedly, year-after-year until the feat itself, was no longer enough to save his job without European success. In the time since he left the Old Lady, Max has chosen not to manage either in Italy, his home country, or England, Germany or Spain. He has enjoyed his time without worrying about organizing a team but has always kept his ears peeled; might he finally return for a massive job like the Red Devils?

Or could it even be Mauricio Pochettino? The Argentinian former boss across town in the north, at Tottenham, was linked to United before Mourinho was fired, yet he was either crossed or chose not to accept a position with Manchester at the time. He has stayed out of football as well since he was let go from Tottenham and with him being passed over for the Barcelona job once more, one can only guess what his future might hold.

Any of these names will inherit a wonderfully talented roster full of players that cannot seem to string consistent performances together with each other for the life of themselves. Does Manchester United, with whomever the boss is, look to sell players in order to purchase further players? The list is eternal the names they could buy, which includes Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland of course. But simply swapping out talent for talent to find a fit of a very niche footballing culture seems odd but with the Red Devils money, anything is possible tactically speaking.

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It just is a seemingly endless refrain since Fergie left; who will bring the club back to the promised land? As of right now today, I couldn’t tell you but it doesn’t look like anyone who is currently here has even the slightest ambition to still remain here when they do eventually return there. It might just be a lesson that, no matter how hard we look for blame in one another, it is really ourselves that we should be most disappointed in.