The feeling of emptiness and frustration is a familiar one to Manchester United fans in recent years. The recent loss to Newcastle is even more worrying for the club’s supporters, writes Alex McCarthy.
The club has made its 'worst ever' start to a Premier League season. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Sunday's defeat to Newcastle at St. James' Park was to be expected from a team that has not won an away game since Ole Gunnar Solskjear’s peak with United in Paris. That night feels like years ago.
The manager’s call for patience and relaxed demeanour feels reminiscent of David Moyes’ tenure at the club. He appears out of his depth, while the club’s rivals excel.
It is worse now though, that squad had leaders. It is hard to imagine the likes of Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, and Giggs surrendering like this crop have made a habit of doing.
Stick or twist?
With Solskjaer being favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave his club, followed by Mauricio Pochettino, one outcome seems likely.
United’s upcoming fixtures point to this happening sooner rather than later, as they play Liverpool at home next, and then play away from home until November 7th.
The recent reports of giving Solskjaer time are hollow. They gave Jose Mourinho a new contract in 2018, before sacking him later that year.
Unless there is a drastic improvement soon, the coming months could see the quickest decline of a team down the table since Jose Mourinho left Chelsea in a relegation fight during the 2015-16 season.
The team is not just lacking quality. They lack the exciting style many thought Solskjaer would bring. The squad is poor, but he is not maximising their potential.
The fans wanted goals. They haven’t even seen chances in a while.
David De Gea summed up how the fans were feeling after the Newcastle game: speechless. The Spaniard struggled for words to describe how poorly the team played on Sunday.
The brilliant football from just over half a year ago has completely vanished. The manager is not the cause of this problem, but he does seem to be ignoring it.
Solskjaer claimed in his press conference a “tactical tweak” was in order, but that they will “probably continue as [they] are”.
He shouldn’t follow in Mourinho’s steps and berate the players after a poor performance, but what he did say will upset the club’s fans even more.
The manager has needed to show a stronger response for a while. Since his permanent appointment on March 28th, only Southampton, Brighton and Watford have fewer points than United of the teams who have been in the Premier League across both seasons.
Manchester United are currently two points above the relegation zone. They are one loss to Liverpool away from potentially being in the bottom three, a quarter of the way through the season.
Although the faith in Solskjaer appears to be ebbing away, a new manager’s arrival would most likely not evoke much optimism from the supporters.
Pochettino is a top manager, but top managers have come before him and failed before him. Whether it's the players or board is debatable, but it's clear there is some kind of poison at the club.
The club has a laudable idea in rebuilding with young, hungry players. Changing that now would seem counter-productive, but they can't play down how awful it has become. No matter what Solskjaer is insisting.
They have a tendency since Ferguson’s retirement to make knee-jerk managerial decisions. Moyes' exit after 10 months and Van Gaal’s departure straight after winning the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace in May 2016 suggest Solskjear may not have the time he desires.
The spending of over a billion euro to end up with a mix of youth academy players who don’t seem to be good enough, and senior players who aren’t good enough, is down to the board.
The Glazers have ignored intense protesting since their arrival. Nasty chants and banners, even threatening to kill the owners, does not seem to have affected them.
Jose Mourinho’s claim that finishing second with Manchester United is one of the best achievements of his career makes more sense every day.
Things can change quickly in football, but United getting back near to anywhere near they should be any time soon looks beyond belief.