Manchester: Following the dire 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his side are in desperate need of the two-week winter break to help refuel his jaded side for the Premier League run-in and a last push to claim an increasingly unlikely top-four spot in the standings.
In one respect, he is right, United do need a break, but not just a fortnight in the sun. They need a permanent break from their manager who continually comes up short in the leadership stakes.
Instead of reading the riot act after another insipid display, the meek Solskjaer was again left looking for excuses when he should have come up with a solution months ago.
“We’ve played so many games in the last two months. The players are down to the bare bones, their energy levels are down and they need a break now,” he moaned after the draw that left them in sixth spot, a barely fathomable 38 points behind leaders Liverpool, and perhaps more concerningly six points behind Chelsea in that fourth spot that secures Champions League football next season.
It is not just in the dugout that United need a break. Upstairs, chief executive and purse-string-holder Ed Woodward has let another transfer window close without bringing in the players United desperately need to compete at the highest levels.
Jadon Sancho and Erling Braut Haaland were both flagged as targets Solskjaer wanted to bring in during the January window, but Borussia Dortmund managed to hold onto the young England striker and also beat United to the signature of Halaand, who has now become the first player to score seven goals in his opening three Bundesliga games. Incidentally, in the same game for Dortmund against Union Berlin on Saturday, Sancho became the first ever teenager to score 25 goals in the German top flight. Oh, how United could do with some of that.
United handed a debut to 47 million winter signing Bruno Fernandes in midfield against Wolves, and he would be forgiven for wondering what he has let himself in for as there was no cohesion, drive or passion from those in red shirts around him.
It won’t be easy or cheap, but if United ever want to get back up tot he top, it is time for wholesale changes all the way from the playing field to the dugout and up to the boardroom.
On the bright side, maybe missing out on the Champions League will be a good thing to avoid major embarrassments against European opposition they used to brush aside with ease.