The new season is well and truly underway but with the new campaign come fresh problems from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is yet to get his side up and running.
Manchester United started the season in good shape, winning four and drawing one game in their opening five Premier League fixtures. There has, however, been a slump in form since then.
United are out of the Carabao Cup, have one loss and one win in the Champions League, and have failed to win both of their last league games, 90-minute affairs with Aston Villa and Everton.
Solskjaer’s misery has been compounded further after having learned of injuries to his two main centre-backs. Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane are both on the sidelines but crucially, Solskjaer has done enough to avoid making the same mistake Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp did last season.
Liverpool’s failed push to retain their first Premier League title did not go to plan and instead, they finished fourth, 17 points adrift winners Manchester City, a side they had finished 28 points ahead of less than a year earlier.
Klopp will have been blaming his injuries at centre-back for the dramatic turn in form but not replacing a first-team regular in Dejan Lovren proved to be a lapse in judgment from the former Borussia Dortmund boss.
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He decided to go into the season with just three senior centre-backs, a decision that would come back to haunt him as his side were hanging on to the hope of ending their title-defending season with qualification for this season’s Champions League.
Solskjaer identified his side’s need for reinforcements over the summer and heavy investments were subsequently made. Raphael Varane joined the club on the day of their opening Premier League fixture and the four-time Champions League winner has immediately become one of the first names on Solskjaer’s teamsheet.
Now, he faces a period on the sidelines after sustaining an injury whilst playing for France in the UEFA Nations League. Maguire was substituted in the 1-0 loss to Aston Villa last month and will not be fit to face Leicester on Saturday.
Victor Lindelof featured in 45 games over the course of last season and will now be offered the chance to reclaim his spot next to Maguire.
Eric Bailly was linked with a move away from the club over the summer but ended up staying at the club, which means there is able cover for any scenarios where Solskjaer’s first-choice men are unavailable. Phil Jones is also working his way back to full fitness after missing the last 18 months of action.
Whilst two world-class defender have been ruled out for United, there is no need to panic at the Old Trafford club – something that can’t be said for when the reigning Premier League champions (at the time) suffered a similar fate.
Regardless of what Manchester United’s form looks like in the next couple of weeks, Solskjaer will never cite his side’s injury worries as the main reason. He has built a large enough squad to compete on all fronts – the point where injuries are a mere inconvenience in more positions than it isn’t.