Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job is hanging by a thread after a run of dire performances from Manchester United but is it the manager or his team who are really to blame?
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool tore the Red Devils apart in a 5-0 mauling at Old Trafford revealing weaknesses across the pitch.
But United’s woes started long before the defeat to their bitter rivals as their defence has regularly lay in tatters this season and the attack struggling to gel together.
David De Gea, who was battling for his place with Dean Henderson last season, has been the strongest player so far – even if the score lines suggest the opposite – while Cristiano Ronaldo‘s return has not been the sensation it was expected.
Ahead of a make-or-break trip to Tottenham on Saturday night, Sportsmail take a look at how the United squad are scoring in a crisis report card.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under intense scrutiny after a run of dire performances for Man United
DAVID DE GEA 7
Manchester United have only kept one clean sheet in 13 games this season but that doesn’t really reflect De Gea’s performances.
The Spaniard looks rejuvenated this season after battling to hold onto his No 1 shirt against competition from Henderson.
There is no doubt that De Gea has earned his spot between the posts this term as he had made some crucial saves for the Red Devils, particularly in United’s comeback win over Atalanta.
The goalkeeper’s heroics saw him make a super double save to prevent the hosts falling further behind against Gian Piero Gasperini’s side which sparked the United fight back.
But the 30-year-old followed up his midweek theatrics by conceding five as Liverpool mauled United at Old Trafford.
David De Gea (left) has pulled off heroics in goals to keep Man United in games this season
RAPHAEL VARANE 6
The Frenchman was a quality summer signing for United but his groin injury could not have come at a worse time for Solskjaer.
Varane was brought in to stabilise United’s defence and turn their backline into a fortress alongside Harry Maguire.
But, although injury has limited his opportunities to contribute, the Red Devils have still conceded eight goals with him in the side.
Undoubtedly, it could have been more if not for the defender’s ability but it is still not an amazing testament for an addition who was supposed to revolutionise United’s campaign.
HARRY MAGUIRE 4
Maguire apologised after United’s disastrous defeat to bitter rivals Liverpool at the weekend and if his performances continue in the same vein he could be groveling after every game this season.
The England international was at the centre of United’s defensive shambles. For Liverpool’s first goal he was was inexplicably 10 yards from the half-way line and was never making it back, while for the second he collided with his own team-mate Luke Shaw.
Harry Maguire’s status as Man United captain has been reportedly questioned by a team-mate
Looking at Maguire’s current for for club it is puzzling to see how he made it into the UEFA Euro 2020 team of the tournament.
Despite impressing for country this summer, he return to Old Trafford has seen his form take a nosedive, hammered home in a 4-2 defeat to Leicester before being compounded against Atalanta and Liverpool.
To make matters worse Maguire is captaining United through their present turmoil and conceding nine goals in their last two Premier League matches is his responsibility – though his captaincy reportedly has been called into question.
LUKE SHAW 3
United’s most consistent performer last season has become one of their most inconsistent this term.
His displays have been error-strewn most notably against Liverpool. He was hopelessly outnumbered for the first goal before his collision with Maguire saw Diogo Jota pounce for the second.
On his return from injury against Everton, Shaw looked far from his best and most of the Toffees’ threatening attacks and dangerous crosses came down his left flank.
AARON WAN-BISSAKA 3
Instead of proving himself to the boss after Solskjaer failed to steal Trippier away from Atletico Madrid this summer, Wan-Bissaka has hit a brick wall.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka delivered an abject performance on the right side of United’s defence
The full-back’s confidence has taken a hit and he looks shaky on the right.
The attacking aspect of his game has never been his strongest suit but even his defending hasn’t looked up to scratch this season – especially after being torn apart by Klopp’s side.
He is susceptible to balls delivered deep from left to right and his movement requires work.
But his lowest point of the season came against Young Boys when a heavy touch forced a bad tackle that earned him a sending off.
VICTOR LINDELOF 4
Slid into the team on the back of Varane’s injury and has reminded everyone once again why United had to bring the Frenchman in over summer.
Lindelof continues to struggle with the pace and physicality of the Premier League and is vulnerable when defending set pieces.
Stepping in for both Maguire and Varane at times this season, the Red Devils have been weaker with him in the side, conceding 19 goals.
Victor Lindelof (centre) didn’t cover himself in glory as Liverpool tore United apart repeatedly
DIOGO DALOT 5
With Wan-Bissaka suspended, Dalot endured a horrific game against Villareal and was routinely targeted by Unai Emery’s side.
He did very little to merit more of a chance or leapfrog Wan-Bissaka into a regular starting position and wasn’t seen until coming on as a second-half substitute against Liverpool following Paul Pogba’s red card.
BRUNO FERNANDES 6
One of the few bright sparks of United’s side this season, Fernandes is doing all he can to stop Ole’s bus veering completely off course – well, just about.
One of only five players to start all league games this season, the Portugal international has registered four goals and two assists with another four in the Champions League.
But he was guilty of a glaring miss against the travelling Reds – although it is unlikely it would have made much difference – and skied a stoppage-time penalty over the bar against Aston Villa.
His compatibility with compatriot Ronaldo has also been called into question at times, with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s arrival appearing to have thrown Fernandes off his game. But is the onus on Ronaldo or Fernandes?
Bruno Fernandes was guilty of a glaring miss early on but it would have made no difference
PAUL POGBA 4
Sent off only 15 minutes after coming on against Liverpool, it seemed the Frenchman had hit a new low in his Old Trafford career.
Pogba enjoyed a dream start to the season as his opening day performance saw him join the Premier League history books, equalling the record for the most assists in one game – a feat achieved by only seven other players.
But his campaign has taken a dramatic turn as his record this season reads; zero goals, four bookings and one red card.
Pogba’s current contract at United expires next summer and Paul Scholes has claimed he would not be missed.
Paul Pogba’s reckless tackle on Naby Keita (right) saw him sent off 15 minutes after coming on
SCOTT MCTOMINAY 5
McTominay is a hard-working midfielder but has been restricted in a holding midfield position.
In fairness to McTominay, he would be most comfortable in a No 8 role and being asked to sit deeper and shield the back four certainly doesn’t play to his strengths.
The Scotland international is forced under pressure by United’s attacking line’s reluctance to track back and he is often left exposed and prone to error.
Solskjaer has stuck by him in his McFred pairing but Fred looks like he’s constantly chasing shadows.
Fred rarely wins a tackle, is barrelled off the ball easily, is too easy to by-pass and is not combative enough.
The biggest impression he made during the crunch clash with Liverpool was to Naby Keita’s head.
And the Brazilian was arguably responsible for Everton’s equaliser earlier this month as he was barged off the ball by Demarai Gray who was then able to race towards goal.
Fred (left) and Scott McTominay (right) were completely overwhelmed in the midfield battle
DONNY VAN DE BEEK 3
Perhaps ranked unfairly low but it is impossible to give an accurate judgement considering he’s seen a grand total of six minutes of league action.
The Dutchman has been shackled to the United bench, making only three appearances in all competitions.
His career has stagnated since he joined United from Ajax for £40million a year ago and rightfully a furious Van de Beek made his feelings known.
He was caught on camera angrily throwing his chewing gum to the floor and being consoled by team-mates after he was left on the bench for the final minutes of United’s Champions League win over Villarreal.
Solskjaer claims he is not freezing the youngster out but it is clear to the confusion of everyone else that Van de Beek has no role in the manager’s plans.
Donny van de Beek (top) has found himself practically glued to Manchester United’s bench
JESSE LINGARD 6
Jesse Lingard has been somewhat of a revelation since his West Ham loan spell last season.
Lingard impressed at the London Stadium and Solskjaer’s omission of the England international from the starting XI this term has left many scratching their heads.
The forward offers intelligent moves, and intensity and urgency in possession, attributes which United are often found lacking.
When he has been introduced on to the pitch, Lingard has been an asset for the Red Devils, scoring twice, including a sublime winner against West Ham, and providing an assist despite only seeing 145 minutes of action.
NEMANJA MATIC 5
Despite being a popular and long-lasting member of the squad, Matic does not feature much under Solskjaer.
The 33-year-old is good on the ball but does not have the pace he used to and is burdened by the attack who do not track back enough.
JADON SANCHO 4
Sancho has done nothing to justify his £73m price tag since arriving at Old Trafford.
His anonymous displays have even warranted the taunting of Sky Germany who have branded him the new James Bond thanks to his 007 statistics this term.
The ex-Dortmund star has yet to register a goal or assist in his seven top-flight appearances this term or the four matches in other competitions.
Sky Germany have poked fun at Jadon Sancho’s difficult start to life at Manchester United
MARCUS RASHFORD 5
Rashford’s campaign suffered a late start as he recovered from shoulder surgery and his return disappointingly coincided with United’s alarming drop in form.
But the England international was bright when he came on against Leicester to score before bagging another against Atalanta.
His relentless runs and drive has caused the opposition all sorts of problems so far this term and he is one of the few players Solskjaer can rely on to get up and down.
However, his run of form took a blow against Liverpool as he was substituted off with a dad leg after looking a bit inhibited in his display.
MASON GREENWOOD 7
With three goals in their first three outings and another against Leicester, Greenwood has looked one of United’s best players this season.
The 20-year-old is arguably the most lethal finisher in the team making him one of Europe’s hottest young prospects.
Although the defensive aspect of his game could use some work and he was hooked off for Pogba at half-time against Liverpool, Greenwood is clearly on an upwards trajectory.
Mason Greenwood (right) found the net in United three opening outings in the league
CRISTIANO RONALDO 6
Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford with a blistering start.
The Portugal star has scored six goals in nine league games and has been crucial in United’s Champions League rescue missions, chipping in with vital last-gasp goals.
But if you look beyond the surface, Ronaldo’s presence in this United side is more detrimental than beneficial.
Solskjaer is struggling to get Ronaldo’s attributes to complement the rest of the team and United’s frontline is having trouble to connect.
Ronaldo has also let his frustration boil over at times as he lashed out at Curtis Jones and threw a strop after being taken off during their loss to Young Boys.
It’s beginning to look like this was a signing for signing’s sake.
Cristiano Ronaldo (left) got away with a yellow card after lashing out at Curtis Jones (bottom)
ANTHONY MARTIAL 5
Martial came under-fire at the start of the season and undoubtedly has long blown hot and cold for United.
But the Frenchman did score on a surprise start against Everton and United have only lost once with him in the side – for more than a minute anyway.
Yet, after finding himself injured once again, it is hard to see how Martial can work his way back into a starting role.
EDINSON CAVANI 5
Cavani’s season has been interrupted by injury and internationals and now he finds himself pretty much ousted by Ronaldo.
The Uruguayan started the season as the Red Devil’s main striker but has played just 171 minutes under Solskjaer so far this term.
Despite an impressive campaign with 17 goals in 32 games last season, the striker has seen his place in the starting XI snatched away by Ronaldo.
While he remains a solid target man and his work rate is an asset to United, Cavani will struggle to make much of an impact if he is resigned to keeping the bench warm.
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