December marks a year since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge of Manchester United and this is his first full season in charge. The team has witnessed changes in personnel and philosophy although results have been familiar with performances still yet to hit the expected mark. The job security of the manager will heavily depend on performance in the League as that remains the primary objective, a trophy that has eluded itself from the cabinet room ever since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club. So in that case, here’s a rundown of likely factors that can determine our league position come end of the season.
Squad Strength and Ability
The boss started the season with special emphasis on fitness and work rate of the players and said that Manchester United may be outplayed but should never outworked by the opponents, a statement that hit home for me. In the process, we’ve witnessed some scintillating counter attacking football. However, breaking down lesser quality opponents who like to sit back and play on the counter themselves remains a challenge. Draw or a loss against the bottom half league teams despite the performance on the day can never be anything but crucial points lost rather than one point gained. Long term absentees in Pogba, Bailly, Fosu-Mensah and Dalot are set to return from injuries imminently. The front line looks in great goalscoring form and McTominay-Fred look the new trending twins in town. Avoiding individual errors and staying fit through the busy Christmas period with at least a couple of quality purchases in January will boost our chances of making the top four.
Step up ESPECIALLY when rivals slip up
For several sad reasons that we’re already aware of, the club finds itself fighting for a shot at top four rather than the league title. However, one can only make the best out of situation at hand and build on from there. United have had the chance to get ahead in the table especially when the likes of Chelsea or Spurs have dropped points but somehow every time that we’ve had this chance, points have been dropped comically. Surely the management needs to look into this as luck will play a very big role(unfortunately) for us going forward and we need to grasp every opportunity that presents itself. It’s a long season ahead and consistency will be key but we must do better especially when we have a chance to leapfrog our direct competition. For if not, soon we might find Crystal Palace and Newcastle for company.
Impact of Cup Competitions
United recently made it to the Round of 32 in Europa League, semi finals of the Carabao Cup and are set to feature in the third round of FA Cup. A trophy is always welcomed with great job and will also be the first feather in the hat of Ole in his managerial career in his dream job. However, 6 years after our league title and hardly challenging for it since, League position will be the main objective while doing our best in the cup runs as they provide an opportunity for silverware, squad rotation, exposure and experience building. Fixtures around the cup ties will also play a role in our performances in the league games with injuries, travel, form and fatigue playing their parts. I certainly hope United can win the Europa League along with one of FA Cup or League Cup as they are well within our capable grasp.That would give us two trophies for the season and the unsurmountable feeling of winning a trophy and a competition. The main target however will be finishing inside the top four which I believe is very much achievable taking all said factors into consideration.
– A stat suggests that since Ole has been appointed manager, only Leicester City(69), Manchester City(89) and Liverpool(101) have picked up more points in the League than United(65). An encouraging stat yet reminding us of the gulf in class between us and the position we aim to be in. However, it confirms that we are in the right direction and it’s time to turn on the afterburners. Ole has embraced the poisoned chalice with a smile and hopefully his optimism and faith will soon turn into reality for all of our sake.
My Predicted League Finish – Fourth Place (Yup, I’m full of Hope)