Manchester United could mount a title challenge next season if they can maintain their recent form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
It’s been seven long years since Manchester United last lifted the Premier League title.
Replacing Sir Alex Ferguson was always going to be difficult but few expected the Reds to struggle as much as they have done since the legendary Scot retired in 2013.
A second-place finish under Jose Mourinho two years ago remains United’s highest finish in the league since Ferguson’s departure, an achievement that might not get enough credit considering their point tally that season matches the maximum amount of points Manchester City can reach this year.
United’s fierce rivals Liverpool ended their 30-year wait for a league crown last month, a testament to the evolution of the side under the management of Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool’s forward trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah is regularly, perhaps rightly, lauded as one of the best in the world and is viewed as a key reason behind their recent success.
Despite their talent, United’s forward three of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood have actually outscored their Merseyside counterparts in all competitions this season. Indeed, United have played significantly weaker opponents in the Europa League but the recent signs are positive that their current crop of forwards can fire United back into contention, even without the potential addition of Jadon Sancho in the upcoming window.
However, one issue remains for United and it is one that plagued Liverpool for years too.
United made Harry Maguire the world’s most expensive defender last summer and some improvement at the back has definitely been made. Even so, problems remain and were on show during the weekend’s win against Bournemouth. The United skipper set the tone with some wayward passes and was beaten far too easily for Junior Stanislas’ opening goal. Question marks remain over Victor Lindelof’s suitability as his long-term defensive partner while Eric Bailly has struggled for fitness in recent years. It’s surely just a matter of time before Phil Jones is sent through the exit door.
Liverpool tried and failed to outscore their opponents during Brendan Rodgers’ reign at the club and came close to securing the title under the Northern Irishman’s leadership but such an approach is simply not sustainable. Things changed for United’s rivals following two major transfers – Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker.