With the conclusion of the Premier League season, there will be a certain degree of soul searching amongst many top clubs regarding their performances throughout the season. Perhaps more so than any other club, Man United will be asking some serious questions over the summer.
United slumped to a 2-0 home defeat to relegated Cardiff on Sunday; not exactly the season goodbye that fans would have been hoping for. The loss once again highlighted the glaring deficiencies that currently trouble the Red Devils.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (£0.29) scored both goals for Cardiff and was able to win the striker dividend for Sunday; whilst also giving the Cardiff fans reason to cheer on the final day. But the result added yet further fuel to the serious doubts which continue to linger of Old Trafford.
Paul Pogba (£7.59) continues to be a divisive character and videos of the Frenchman reportedly arguing with United fans at the final whistle, have done little to help the situation. Rumours regarding Pogba’s future continue to circulate, but despite his apparent attitude problems, can United seriously consider selling their highest producer of both goals and assists this season? Pogba managed 13 goals and 9 assists in the Premier League, with Romelu Lukaku (£1.41) managing just 12 and Marcus Rashford (£3.57) was the clubs next highest supplier of goals with 6. Whichever way you look at the situation with Pogba, it doesn’t bode well for United. Either Pogba stays and there remains the risk of continued disharmony, or he is flogged off thereby taking away United’s greatest output of goals this season.
Then there is the farcical situation surrounding Alexis Sanchez (£1.30). It has been a torrid season for Sanchez, both on the pitch and on the Football Index. The Chilean’s poor form has been reflected in his price chart over the season. However, having hit a yearly low of £1.07, he has since seen a slight upturn on the market and he is currently 19p up over the course of the week. This is likely due to the fresh transfer links that Juventus are willing to offer Sanchez an escape route away from Old Trafford. There is no smoke without fire and this one could be a win-win for all parties. United are keen to get the striker’s massive wages off their books, whilst Juve will look to take advantage and pay a significantly reduced fee (if at all!) in order to sign him. Sanchez first made a name for himself in Europe during his stint at Udinese. As such, a move back to Serie A could well have a positive impact on his performances on the pitch. You would think that Juventus will continue to dominate the league and so it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Sanchez will have plenty of opportunities to re-find his form.
Whilst there are plenty of issues on the pitch at Old Trafford, perhaps the biggest question mark of all is that of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s future. The Norwegian was on cloud 9 after taking over the wheel from Jose Mourinho, but since making the managerial move permanent, things have gone horribly wrong. In the last 10 matches, Solskjaer has chalked up just 2 wins, 2 draws and 6 losses and the calls for his sacking have already begun. Again, United have forced themselves into an awkward decision. If the Norwegian stays and he can’t stop the rot next season, United will have wasted an entire summer and the knives will soon be out again. But if they bite the bullet and sack Solskjaer they will have to take the financial hit of his huge contract, whilst also having to begin a rebuilding process under a new manager (who will also take time to hire!)
Perhaps more galling than anything else for United fans, is the fact that both Man City and Liverpool are currently hitting such lofty heights. City could well make it a domestic treble, whilst Liverpool have made it two Champions League finals in a row. Meanwhile, United will have to make do with Europa League football next season. Man United were very much the dominate force of English football during the nineties and noughties, but if they are to topple the current dominance of their two fiercest rivals, it is certainly going to be a long road to recovery for the Red Devils.