Pressure is mounting on Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to finally win a trophy on the eve of the Norwegian’s third full season in charge at Old Trafford which starts with the visit of Leeds United on Saturday.
Solskjaer has been at the club since December 2018 and is entering his third full season in charge of the Reds, with the club trophyless since 2017 under Jose Mourinho when they won the Europa League and League Cup.
After reaching five semi-finals under the former goal machine, United finally made it to a final against Villarreal last season but were beaten on penalties in the Europa League.
Now with Jadon Sancho set to join their side, as well as chasing the likes of Raphael Varane and possibly Kieran Trippier to bolster their options, Reece from United Journal believes it’s do or die for Solskjaer this season.
“As much as I love Ole and think he’s done a good job, he has to win a trophy this year,” he told FansBet.
“A lot of Ole’s spending has been trying to eradicate Jose’s horrific time at the club.
“Half of the money spent by OGS has replaced players signed by Jose – he spent big on Mkhitaryan and Sanchez, who both flopped. I’ve always had this opinion of OGS: he’s going to leave the club in a 10x better state than when we walked in.
“The expectation for United is to always be challenging for trophies. It’s in our DNA.
“Having said that, everyone knows that Ole was brought in originally to steady the ship. He did exactly that and gave us memorable times along the way – the club couldn’t not give him the job full time.
“The Ole In/Out debate is a boring one, but if nothing comes of this season, then questions need to be asked at ‘how far can Ole take us?'”
Last season United finished the Premier League campaign as runners-up behind Manchester City, in their best league finish under Solskjaer’s tenure as manager.
It means their gradual progression has seen them secure back-to-back top-four finishes for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired as champion in 2013.
But the feeling going into the new campaign, which begins with a home game against Marcelo Bielsa’s side, is that the club legend, who scored the winner in the 1999 Champions League final, must go one better at a time when United’s rivals are showing plenty of ambition.
“When City and Chelsea have the money they do, you always worry,” says Reece.
“Being able to splash £100m on one player is crazy but everyone in the Premier League has grown used to this now.
“City clearly need a striker and the one they want is Harry Kane. Like the Varane situation, it’s hard getting a player out of Spurs and having to deal with Daniel Levy is never easy.
“If City get Kane though, that’s the Premier League decided for the next two years at least.
“Chelsea wanted Haaland but after we got Sancho, it was always going to be difficult. We’ve obviously experienced Romelu Lukaku at United for two years so we know what Chelsea are getting.
“There’s no beating around the bush, he’s a proven goalscorer and he’ll do well for Chelsea. Having said that, I’m not too worried personally about Lukaku – everyone knows his limitations.
“On a plus side of Chelsea and City signing strikers, that opens the door for Erling Haaland to come to Old Trafford as we would represent the only realistic option in England.”
The Red Devils have already bolstered their playing squad with England international Jadon Sancho arriving from Borussia Dortmund in a £72 million deal, while Raphael Varane is set for a medical at Old Trafford ahead of his move from Real Madrid, two players that Reece believes can vastly improve United’s squad.
“I’m over the moon. With Jadon Sancho, the transfer should have happened a year ago and many fans were convinced that it was our only realistic chance to sign a player like him,” he says.
“The numbers Jadon has put up especially over the last three years have been crazy.”
“We haven’t had a natural right-winger since Antonio Valencia and even he transitioned to a full back in his last few years at the club, so to have a player who not only is young but be at the level he is at, is still so surreal.
“Raphael Varane was every fan’s dream signing at centre-back. We’ve been chasing him for years but it’s a task getting players out of Real Madrid when they don’t want to move.
“We as a club and the majority of fans were wary of this deal because of what happened back in 2015 with Sergio Ramos. But this time, it just felt different.
“Varane had won everything at Madrid and I think the departure of Ramos aided his decision to try something new. Knowing that Varane was a fan of Rio Ferdinand growing up already pulls on the fans’ emotions.
“He is the perfect partner for Harry Maguire and they will complement each other so well. I still can’t believe we’ve signed him. We now have arguably the best centre-back partnership in the world, and it’s been while since we’ve been able to say that.”
“I don’t think our squad will ever be perfect but I’m relatively happy with where we are at currently. Our starting XI in contrast to Ole’s first starting XI is levels above.
“We still need a holding midfielder to bring the balance that we’ve been missing. We’ll need a striker next summer and as I said, Haaland is the man, so let’s see what happens with him.
“Our depth is what lets us down and that’s the reason why I think we’re not quite at the point where we can call ourselves title contenders.”
🚨 BREAKING 🚨
Manchester United confirm the signing of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund ✍️ pic.twitter.com/OLQt8a368p
— FansBet (@FansBet) July 23, 2021
Pep Guardiola’s City finished 12 points clear of the chasing pack last summer and recently signed England star Jack Grealish for a British record £100million.
Meanwhile, Champions League holders Chelsea, are set to strengthen Thomas Tuchel’s squad by completing a club-record £97.5m deal for Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku.
But despite their recent summer spending spree Reece believes United are not quite ready to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title that they last won back in 2012/13 under Sir Alex Ferguson.
“We now have the most balanced starting XI we’ve had in years,” he explains.
“Having a world-class natural winger will massively help and having a very solid defence will be big as well.
“I think we are two starting positions away from being able to challenge just yet. City are still quite a way ahead, Liverpool will come back stronger and Chelsea are riding high with Tuchel at the moment.
“I’m not saying we can’t challenge, I just think we’re not quite there yet. However, on our day, we can beat anybody. The top 4 is as set as its been in the league for a while, I don’t see anyone breaking into that for a couple of years at least.”
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