Manchester United have endured a tough start to the season, to say the least, and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now faces the biggest test of his managerial career to date.
The Norwegian tactician enjoyed a strong stabilising campaign last season as he guided the Red Devils to third place in the Premier League table. Considering rivals Liverpool and Manchester City were streets ahead of the competition, United finishing ‘best of the rest’ was a reasonable achievement.
It could have been so much more for Solskjaer’s side as they managed to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Europa League last term but failed to secure a place in a final. Building on that foundation was going to be the key to this season, but it has been far from an ideal start for the men in red, and punters will be wary of backing this side at present.
A disrupted pre-season, which was endured by all clubs going into the current campaign, seemed to affect United more than others.
United have looked off the pace from where they were last season, and perhaps the international break will serve a side that is 2/1 to finish in the top four in the football betting well. The lack of match sharpness was evident in their Premier League opener as they suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace. The Red Devils then managed to scrape past Brighton 3-2, before a 6-1 hammering at the hands of former United manager Jose Mourinho and his Tottenham Hotspur side.
However, United did manage to get some significant business done in the transfer window on deadline day, with Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani being brought in. It will be interesting to see how experienced striker Cavani handles the transition to the Premier League, and he will certainly be an outside contender in the betting for the golden boot this season.
Former Molde boss Solskjaer will not only have to get the new faces up to speed, but he will also need to work on one of the club’s biggest ever signing.
Club captain and England international Harry Maguire is having a significant dip in form at the start of the campaign. A sending off for the Three Lions was another low point on the field for the centre-back as he was given his marching orders in a 1-0 defeat against Denmark at Wembley.
Solskjaer’s man management will be put to the test with how he handles the seemingly fragile Maguire, trying to get the 27-year-old back to the imperious defender that shone for Leicester City and England during the 2018 World Cup.
It’s still the early stages of the season, and United have plenty of time to make this campaign a successful one, trying to compete with the likes of Liverpool and Man City, who are joint-title favourites in the Premier League’s outright winner market.
But too many more negative results and Solskjaer might no longer find himself at the wheel at Old Trafford.
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