Another week, another Premier League club in crisis.
This week it was a bit of a toss up between Luton Town and Manchester United…and for the simple fact that Manchester United are in that toss up with literal Luton Town there could only be one winner (loser) this week.
That’s Man Utd, you’re in crisis right now and here’s why…
What’s the crisis?
Man Utd spent over £150m on new recruits during the summer transfer window, hoping to make the leap from top-four club to title-challengers, and instead they’ve totally regressed in every conceivable way.
The Red Devils look goal shy up front, leaky at the back and totally non-existent in the middle of the park. And if you think all of that is an exaggeration then you clearly didn’t watch the games against Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton & Hove Albion.
Issues on-field aren’t the only thing that’s led to the current crisis at Man Utd as the club and its players, through their actions off-field, have created a very uncomfortable atmosphere around Old Trafford and on football Twitter too.
Why are they in crisis?
Let’s address the last point made above: the off-field issues.
The manner in which the club handled the Mason Greenwood situation in August has notably left a bitter taste in many Man Utd fans’ mouths, particularly due to the fact that reports stated that the club were in fact willing to reintegrate him into the first team squad.
These reports were rightfully met with ire from Man Utd fans who did want not a player who had been charged with “attempted rape, engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm” playing for the football club they support. And while Man Utd did eventually back down and send Greenwood on loan to Getafe, the fact that female fans had to release a statement explaining how “women don’t matter” to the club in order to get them to do so certainly isn’t a good thing.
Now another player in Antony has been accused of assaulting three different women in Brazil, and while the wide forward has been granted leave from the team it remains to be seen if the club has learned the right lessons from the Greenwood debacle.
On the pitch, Man Utd’s problems lie in the fact that, generally the squad has seemingly been poorly, and expensively, assembled. Erik ten Hag had quite a strict budget to work with in the summer due to potential FFP breaches, but overspending on the likes of Mason Mount and Rasmus Hojlund meant that the Red Devils couldn’t really go out address every need they had.
This has led to Ten Hag’s team trying to play a style of football that, taking injuries and the lack of depth of the squad into account, they just don’t have the capacity to play.
There isn’t the legs in midfield to play a high-pressing game, nor is there the deadly quality up front to convert chances, nor is there the on-the-back quality at full-back to create overloads in midfield when they’re ‘inverting’ as in vogue right now.
What can they do to rectify it?
Sofyan Amrabat’s return from injury may be key to improving Man Utd’s performances on the field. The loanee has both the quality on the ball and cardio off of it to provide some much needed cover in midfield, and help protect a rather porous defensive unit.
Off the field, Man Utd have been a PR disaster in recent months and simply need to learn from the mistakes they’ve made in handling the Greenwood situation. The club need to take into account how fans reacted to that debacle, and ensure their concerns are acknowledge and addressed moving forward.