Man United have had a season full of ups and downs. They’ve had performances where you think they’re a League 2 team, and some that make you think they are the best team in England. Either way, it’s not been smooth sailing in the slightest.
You could usually bet on Man United being a side that not only makes the top 4, but is constantly challenging for the title. This hasn’t been the case for a few seasons now, but every team has periods where they underperform, whether that be because of a manager change, a change in strategy or players, or just simply being out of sorts.
Champions League football has always been a non-negotiable for the Red Devils, with this season being no different. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hoping to take his young team all the way to the final, but what do Manchester United need to finish in the top 4 this season?
Let’s start at the top. Has top dog Ed Woodward done a lot for the club? Absolutely, can he do more? They need to. Woodward has upset many fans over the past few months, even years, with his almost profit-driven approach to the club.
They have been dragging their feet with appointing a Director of Football, a position that they desperately need filled so they can bridge the gap between the boardroom and the field. A gap that is becoming more and more apparent.
Ed Woodward has been the man in charge, overseeing massive decisions that seriously affect the club. He unfortunately completely lacks the footballing knowledge required for the decisions he is making.
This plays a part in United’s recruitment strategy. On the whole, it’s been abysmal. Signing players that their original clubs don’t want, just for the sake of signing someone, or paying them insane money just for them to be a flop (Alexis Sanchez, hint hint)
On the other side of the spectrum, they’re letting go of players that they most certainly not be letting go of. What do these have in common? Money. Paul Pogba was the most expensive player in the world at the time of his signing, and if we’re being honest, he hasn’t lived up to it.
Ed Woodward and the United big-wigs are forgetting that great footballing decisions ends up making money for the club. Making millions in profit doesn’t mean you are successful on the pitch.
Ajax is a prime example of good footballing decisions leading to profit. They have a team of young, hungry players, a management system that has the right people in the right departments, and not only are they successful on the pitch, their bank account isn’t doing too badly either.
United also need consistency. I think everyone can agree that one of their biggest problems is their complete lack of consistency when it comes to putting in multiple great performances. Yes they get wins, but they let leads slip away, or not even score and play a dull 90 minutes of football.
This inconsistency is caused by their over-reliance on too few players. Marcus Rashford has been in incredible form, but he can’t be the only one. The moment he gets injured, no one really steps up to take his place as the goalscorer.
United have quality on the field, Daniel James and Mason Greenwood spring to mind. Two young, hungry footballers that deserve some limelight. With a team that consists of them, Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams, United are sitting on a team that can be great.
The problem with the upper management does not look like one that will be solved anytime soon. However, United have all the potential in the world to be consistent enough to get the wins they need.
They have seen multiple successes, and they are still one of the very few clubs to take points off of Liverpool this season. When they play well, they are an unstoppable machine, it’s just a matter of doing this week in and week out.
But to answer the question of what they need to finish in the top 4? Consistency, consistency, consistency. The matters off the pitch are still going to be there when the season is finished, so all they can do now is make what they do on the pitch count.
It also helps that the sides around them are not bulletproof. Liverpool may be flying, but Chelsea, Manchester City and Leicester have all been dropping points this season. United pulling out win after win will seriously be the difference between top 4 and mid-table.
In the end, this group of United players need to put winning at the forefront of their minds, what happens off the pitch should in no way affect what they do when they step out onto the turf. They have the players, they have the drive, they have the backing of a manager who was thrown into the deep end and who is trying to do his best, Top 4 is by no means out of reach yet.