Manchester United are in such a state right now that some people - pundits included - are wondering if relegation to the Championship is a realistic possibility.
The Red Devils were beaten 1-0 by a poor Newcastle United team last weekend and currently find themselves 12th in the Premier League table, just two points outside the relegation zone.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has left himself with a threadbare squad after allowing Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to both leave Old Trafford at the end of the summer transfer window without bringing in replacements and it’s hard to see the team’s fortunes changing after the international break.
United face Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday 20th, then travel to Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League on Thursday 24th before taking on Norwich City at Carrow Road three days later.
Every fixture currently looks difficult on paper for this Man Utd side and Solskjaer surely needs to strengthen his squad when the transfer window re-opens in January - or else this season really could be a catastrophe.
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The tabloids believe Solskjaer will be sacked if he loses his next three matches, but this doesn’t tally up with what sources from Old Trafford are informing the media.
The Telegraph’s chief football correspondent Jason Burt understands the club’s hierarchy are pledging to give the under-fire Solskjaer time to get things right and will show patience with him.
The same report also provides details of United’s transfer strategy for the next two years and how they plan to return to the top.
First of all, the powers that be at Old Trafford realise that they are ‘around six players short of challenging for major honours’.
To rectify this, United will make up to four signings in each of the next two summer transfer windows.
One of those signings, however, might be accelerated to January.
United have already drawn up a list of targets to pursue in the coming weeks, the report adds, while the club could spend around £150 million in the next two summer transfer windows in order to close the gap on Liverpool and Manchester City.
“Ole is looking at a three-year vision of a squad. It will be an evolution over the coming years,” a senior source said. “We are at base camp now.”
Players will continue to be recruited following a thorough process of identifying, scouting and profiling targets before a shortlist of three is drawn up for each position. Matt Judge, United’s head of corporate development, is the man in charge of leading negotiations.
The club are happy with last summer’s three signings - Harry Maguire, Dan James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka - and are committed to acquiring young players of similar profile. There is an insistence, however, that not only British players are being targeted.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, despite his excellent goalscoring form since joining LA Galaxy, will not be returning to the club. United are not interested in signing short-term fixes, which suggests 33-year-old Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic is also unlikely to arrive in the New Year.
Those at the top will also push on with plans to hire at least one technical director - two people may end up covering the role - to become the “lightning rod” for recruitment.
A former United player is expected to be appointed to this role - or someone who can quickly understand the club - and the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Darren Fletcher have previously been linked with this future position.
As for Solskjaer, the Norwegian coach must start gaining more victories in order to climb the table but the club will not necessarilyy sack him if the club finishes outside the top six this season.
As long as there are clear signs of progression under Solskjaer by the end of the season, he will remain in charge of the team.News Now - Sport News