Manchester United is arguably one of the biggest soccer clubs in the world, and is known for winning many trophies. But after firing long-time manager Alex Ferguson, the club hasn’t been winning like they usually do. David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho tried to follow the footsteps of Ferguson, but none of them lived up to expectations. The second half of the 2018/19 season you can see how much of a roller coaster ride it’s been for United, but the real question is, do they have a shot at winning the Premier League and Champions League?
In late December, the Manchester United board didn’t think Mourinho was the right man for the job as they were sitting in 7th place at the time. They sacked him, and decided to bring in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker manager. A caretaker manager is a manager who is only in charge for the remainder of the season. If he does well, the United board can make him permanent manager. Solskjaer has a great history with this club, as he was coached by Ferguson and won many trophies. Solskjaer was known for being a super sub and scoring lots of goals. His most memorable goal was when he scored the winning one in the dying minutes in the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich in 1999.
Solskjaer’s first game as manager was against Cardiff City. United killed them 5-1 with two goals from Pogba, and one each from Rashford, Herrera, and Martial. You could see a major difference right away with the whole team as all the players performed at a higher level and were much more poised on the field than they had been under Mourinho. You could say it’s easier to play when you have a boss that believes in you.
United went on to win their next 11 games before losing the crucial first leg against PSG, in the Champions League. They lost 2-0 at home, but they could redeem themselves by going to Paris and beating them by more than 2, or scoring more away goals, and winning the series in aggregate. Unfortunately, United also had 12 injuries, which included many key players like Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, and Ander Herrera. People were calling this mission impossible.
When the team announced their starting line up for the second game against PSG, it looked very strange, as there were a few people playing out of position. This shakeup may have been related to the fact that half the squad was missing due to injury. When the game started, the men that Solskjaer picked went straight to work, as Lukaku scored 2 minutes into the game for United, but they conceded around 10 minutes after. After Lukaku scored a second goal. United still needed one more to advance, and in the last minute. Manchester was awarded a penalty. Rashford was the one to take it, and he smashed it top left corner. That was enough for the Red Devils to advance.
As the season is slowly ending, United has shown that they have a great team with a lot of young talent, but still there are some areas that need an upgrade. Solskjaer will be having a busy summer as he needs to buy a lot of new players. He will have a lot to do with players wanting to come to United, because everyone can see if he’s making the team successful, and making all the players happy.
On defence, Chris Smalling has played pretty well this season, but I’m not too sure if he’s the center back United wants if they’re going to take their game to the next level. According to ManchesterEvening News, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly is a world class center back that has been linked to United for a while. The Red Devils concede an average of 1.8 goals a game, which isn’t horrible, but with the addition of Koulibaly, there’s a high chance that would go down. Koulibaly will cost around 90 million pounds (close to around $160 million Cdn.)
Another player United is targeting is Jadon Sancho. He is a very young player with a lot of potential, and could have great chemistry with all the other young United forwards. And there is also a chance they may get Douglas Costa. According to Talk Sports, “the fact the Red Devils struggled so much without Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial went off against Paris Saint-Germain shows they do need at least one more attacker” and Douglas Costa is that man. I don’t think United will get both him and Sancho, but Costa will be a bit cheaper than Sancho as he’s older. Costa will cost around 52 million pounds, and Sancho maybe near 100 million pounds.
There’s a great chance United could get these players. Since Ole has been in charge, Manchester seems like a great place to go, as they play great attacking soccer.
Near the end of the season, we have seen the ups and downs of the year for United. Jose Mourinho has ruined their chances of winning the Premier League, as their too far from the teams at the top of the table. They need to focus on making the top four, or winning the Champions League this year, so that they can participate in the Champions League next year. When the United board fired Mourinho and hired Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, they became one of the best teams in the world, making those targets very possible.