November 2020 saw two ex-Manchester United managers nominated for Premier League manager of the month. Nominated Jose Mourinho has created a new sense of confidence at Tottenham Hotspur as well as nominated David Moyes who has taken West Ham United to 5th in the Premier League before the end of the the month.
Also nominated is current Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer who has divided opinion amongst fans and pundits. As United seemed to find their legs in November and picking up important wins at Everton, West Brom, and Southampton, what can Ole do to ensure success for the biggest team in England?
United have a difficult fixture list for December and it could be make or break for the Norwegian coach as his side face noisy neighbours Manchester City, old foes Leeds United and a recent bogey team, Nuno Espirto Santo’s tricky Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Where has it been going wrong?
- Defensive Issues
The Reds have been criticised for lacking quality in defence and after £80 million was spent on Harry Maguire and a combined £70 million on fullbacks Aaron wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles.
While there is still time for 27-year-old Maguire to come good as the Red Devils captain and backing him seemingly all the way is Ole. Despite a dip in form in October which saw the English defender concede six against Mourinho’s Spurs at a thrashing at Old Trafford this was only to be followed up on international duty with a potential leg-breaking tackle against Denmark which saw him sent off.
This was all following the traumatic event Maguire suffered in Greece in the summer, despite this Ole continued to favour a partnership of Maguire and Victor Lindelöf who conceded 11 goals in the opening three games of the season.
2. Problematic Pogba
Another issue Ole has found amongst his personnel is the club’s record signing Paul Pogba, who has rarely featured in the reds side due to a string of injuries and the arrival of the new kid on the block Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese has made an instantaneous impact since arriving in January – the type of immediate impact that was expected of Pogba.
Partner this with a history of ‘flirting’ with Real Madrid, while away with France when quizzed on the chances of him working with Zinedine Zidane ‘All football player would love to play for Real Madrid. It is a dream for me, why not one day?’ It looks like an exit from Old Trafford this summer is in Paul Pogba’s future, while Ole will be parting ways with a World Class talent the United team itself may benefit.
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While Ole has preferred a midfield three on occasion seeing the double pivot of Fred and Scott McTominay introduced, Pogba has also been rotated for Donny van de Beek. United have seemingly managed to survive and at points thrive without the Frenchman bolstering their midfield.
His performance this Saturday against West Ham saw Pogba score a classy outside the box strike to equalize, his goal and tenacious play helped inspire a Man United comeback. Pogba recorded 10 possession regaining tackles, more than any other player on the pitch.
Ole will be hoping these performances become more consistent as the Reds head into December.
3. Old Trafford no longer intimidating
Manchester United have struggled to find form at home this season managing to win only one game at Old Trafford in the league, that’s 3 points from a possible 15.
The Red’s lifeless performance in their league opener at home to Crystal Palace provided warning signs for the embarrassment that was to come at the hands of the man last in charge of Man United, Jose Mourinho.
Spurs would visit Old Trafford on Match week four and dominate the home team 6-1 a derogatory score line that echoes the nightmare of October 2011 with that game against Manchester City.
Spurs were the first visiting side to score four gals in a league game away at Old Trafford since 1957.