To start where all great stories do – the beginning – the fact Chelsea didn’t bring their scoring boots makes no odds to United in that opening game, the home side did and were clinical when needed. Perhaps that opening weekend could be seen as a false dawn for Ole and his men, but for me it is a prelude to what we can expect when the right personnel are available. Of course luck was ridden, but reality speaking for a moment, to win anything in life you must have luck on your side. And that brings me nicely on to the next variable holding back this depleted side; luck.
History is littered with Manchester United injury crises, almost as if they go hand-in-hand in the club ethos with the use of academy players. It seems to be that when one goes the rest will follow (all except Phil Jones, he is a law unto himself) and this is precisely what has happened. Now before you start thinking that I’m offering an easy way out for the players and Solskjaer, stop, breath, and consider who is injured. Paul Pogba – the creative force. Anthony Martial – far more a number 9 than Rashford. Marcus Rashford – the only other senior player who can play up top. Mason Greenwood – the back up. Luke Shaw – first choice left back. There are big holes left by these that were filled against Chelsea, the managers plans simply cannot survive without at least 3 of the wounded. There’s a reason United aren’t quite firing right now.
As far as Mourinho goes, I’m ignoring most everything he is coming out with until it begins to get juicy. Perhaps if he had held himself in better esteem he would still be in charge, but he went for the whole “I’m playing people out of position in protest” approach and remains culpable in the current mess.
Records wise? Well, since Solskjaer took charge only City and Liverpool have more points than United. Performances haven’t been great, and form is patchy at best, but let us not get too carried away in criticising them.
Strange decisions were made this summer, but we would be fooling ourselves if we ignored the fact that numbers are so short because deadwood has been shifted. Something that everyone was screaming for until 2 weeks ago. Where a thin squad doesn’t scream “plan”, there is obviously one in place – shift the shit and sign lads who want to be at the club. The 3 summer signings have been the most impressive thus far, and that is something no one has been able to say since Anthony Martial first burst onto the scene, before him well, you’re looking at Robin van Persie. Maybe waiting for the right players to be attainable takes time, and deadwood could be kept until they are so, but would any of you really have been happy with Sanchez staying? Smalling? Darmian for Christ’s sake?! No! Everyone was made up when Lukaku left, but all of a sudden he isn’t looking too shabby, is he? Be careful what you wish for.
Acceptance of the current funk isn’t something that should be lambasted. Remaining in denial is far worse, wasting energy on screaming abuse at the obvious weak links in the side (yes, Nemanja, I mean you) will drive you into an early grave and doesn’t put you on any higher ground than anyone who doesn’t waste precious hours on social media dreaming up new hashtags. The squad isn’t good enough right now, maybe form is currently saying mid-table but the quality is still there for Top 4 with a bit of confidence and consistency in selections and fitness. Ole is learning still, he will make mistakes, but so did Mourinho, van Gaal and Moyes. Experience is only valuable if you use it to your advantage. There is no quick fix and things can certainly get worse before they get better, but not even Ben Stokes could turn the clubs deep-rooted issues around.
It all seems an awful lot like post-defeat hyperbole this weekend, and I can understand where it is coming from after the abject display on Sunday, but the current form of fans is as unsavoury as that of the playing staff. In 7 years, we as a fanbase have completely abandoned our own ethos and become as bad as everyone else. The default stance after a bad patch is now to replace the manager – something that has arguably failed on 3 previous occasions – and an uncertainty on where the blame actually lies. Camps and in-fighting are rife, and I’ve never known such a miserable time to be around other United fans. Beat Arsenal on Monday (entirely possible) and West Ham is forgotten. Get a result against Liverpool and suddenly the grey skies are clearing. The old saying that form is temporary, but class is permanent was once synonymous with this club, however, it now finds itself lying in the gutter, swigging from the bottle of White Ace it’s last 40p could afford. Things are a long way from perfect, but if it ends up as 3 years of no marquee signings and the project building nicely then we should all be grateful mediocrity was accepted and not forced to another sticky end.