Manchester United have endured a difficult start to the season, and unsurprisingly, their results have got pundits and former players talking.
Following a rather underwhelming transfer window, United ignited optimism among their fan base with a 4-0 thumping of Chelsea on the opening weekend. However, that optimism has all but evaporated as United have failed to win any of their next three games.
United’s 1-2 home defeat to Crystal Palace surprised many, but their failure to beat ten-men Southampton the following week proved to be a huge blow.
As things stand, United have won only one of their first four games, and they don’t resemble a side meant to challenge for a top-four spot. Furthermore, the lack of depth in certain areas has raised questions about their credentials.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues to insist that the recent results are not indicative of the progress that has been made. But not many share the same enthusiasm. According to United legend Paul Scholes, Solskjaer’s side is clearly behind the top-four sides, and he doesn’t see them challenging for top honours for at least another two seasons.
Scholes told Sky Sports: “I think you almost have to write United off for the next two years – this team – until Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has cleared everything he wants out; has four or five transfer windows.
“United are going to be behind Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham.
“I think this is United at the minute; you have to be patient with the young players, but the experienced players have to step up.
“We’ve seen over and over again how many mistakes experienced players are making. It’s difficult for young players to come into a team like that.”
The former midfielder also lambasted senior players like Nemanja Matic, Ashley Young and Paul Pogba for their poor performances in the 1-1 draw at St Mary’s Stadium. He added: “But it wasn’t the young players I was disappointed with, it was more the experienced players. When Matic came on he constantly gave the ball away, Ashley Young gave the ball away, and I don’t know how many times Paul Pogba lost possession.”
Gary Neville thinks progress is being made
However, not every former United player is indifferent of the work Solskjaer is doing at Old Trafford. United legend and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville believes that his former club are playing good football once again and they are on the right track under the current manager. However, he adds that there is a long way to go for United, and the Norwegian manager would need at least four to five transfer windows to restore United to their previous heights.
Neville also defended United’s performances in games against Wolves and Southampton.
He said on the Gary Neville Podcast: “When you have a young team like the one at Manchester United, there are a lot of players who are developing and trying to improve themselves. I think they are going to get a lot of results like the ones at Wolves and Southampton where they actually do quite well in the game.
“I thought they performed okay against Southampton, but they just don’t have that clinical element which would’ve allowed them to go on and win the game.
“I think they are on the right track because the first thing United have to do, they have to have a group of people in that changing room that want to be there.”
As things stand, United find themselves in the eighth spot in the league table, with only five points from their four games. This means that they are already seven points adrift of their arch-rivals Liverpool, who sit at the top with maximum points from their four games.
It is certainly a difficult pill to swallow for United, who had been used to getting the better of the Merseyside club in Premier League. However, it’s a new reality for the United fans, and all they can do right now is hope that Solskjaer can achieve whatever the likes of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho couldn’t.