Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP)
Like any coach, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is an ideal culprit to explain Manchester United's poor start to the season, but the responsibilities are widely shared and save almost no one.
Strange as it may seem, Solskjaer, after his first 29 matches on a Premier League bench between last season and the start of the season, has a better record than Jürgen Klopp: 49 points against 47!
The German technician visits him leading Sunday with Liverpool, for the derby of England, with this season an immaculate record before the 9th day.
The vast majority of these points were taken as interim coach after the dismissal of Jose Mourinho. But since he was confirmed at the post in late March, his team has taken only 17 points in 16 league games.
"I do not hang on to this kind of statistics," Solskjaer said.
Solkjaer coach would he walk in the footsteps of Solkjaer "Super Sub" (super-substitute) when he was a player? Devilishly effective out of the bench, but irretrievably disappointing over time ...
Currently 12th with 9 points, Manchester started with a flattering 4-0 against Chelsea who launched the new exercise on a good basis. The loss (1-0) after a particularly poor performance in Newcastle, before the truce, is more representative of the current state of the team.
- A changing team -
Admittedly, the group was not spared by the injuries to start with those of Paul Pogba or Anthony Martial, interesting on the first days.
But Manchester lacks everything: a guiding idea in the game, fighting sometimes and above all realism, like the penalties missed by Pogba and Rashford or head six meters not framed by Harry Maguire 0-0 against Newcastle.
With 9 goals scored on 110 shots, the Red Devils have an appalling ratio. Only Southampton (8 goals in 107 shots) and the red lantern Watford (4 goals in 113 shots) are worse.
Solskjaer, who remains for many fans the decisive striker in injury time against Bayern in the 1999 Champions League final, insists he is working in the long run, that the team is changing and that he has "a plan"...
The players arrived this summer - Aaron Wan-Bissaka (21) Daniel James (21) and even Harry Maguire (26), all for 145 million pounds (167 M EUR) - discover this pressure.
Like Chelsea, but with much less success, Solskjaer is promoting locally trained talent, such as midfielder Scott McTominay (22) and Mason Greenwood (18) in attack.
- Woodward more criticized than Solskjaer -
A rejuvenation and refreshment of the workforce that inevitably leads to a bit of trial and error, but it also questions the strategy and ambition of a club whose recruitment does not convince anyone.
ManU let go of Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian and Marouane Fellaini, players who, without belonging to the global gratin, reported points that are lacking today to work in peace.
If he is less visible, the executive vice president and real boss of the club Ed Woodward focuses more critics than the coach.
"Sports performance does not really matter in terms of our bottom line," he said in a conference call with investors, suggesting that the economy was winning.
"Everyone at Manchester United is committed to the success of our first goal of winning trophies," he recently had to retro-pedal.
"The money is there to strengthen us in January, this summer (next), and we are planning, we are looking, we find targets," said Solskjaer Thursday, promising this time "confirmed players".
In the absence of dreams, the Mancunian fans would like to at least ignite from time to time.
From Sunday against Liverpool? "It's a perfect match for both players and fans," Solskjaer told a press conference, "an opportunity to get into the history books". Hoping that it is on the side of the winners.
© 2019 AFP