Are we even surprised at this point? Manchester United, again, dropped points against a bottom of the table team to move further down Premier League rankings Sunday afternoon. A lone goal from Newcastle’s Matty Longstaff saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men close Matchweek 8 without a victory. Currently, United sit just two points above the relegation zone and 15 points away from league leaders Liverpool.
It’s a dismal time for the once-storied team, to say the least. Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat against Newcastle United.
Away form is abysmal
Sunday’s defeat means that Ole continues his streak of not winning a single match away since being named the permanent manager of his former club. At this point, it’s likely United will never experience another victory any time soon quite like the comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in March. Players were offloaded with promises of signing fresh talent, but those vows appear to have just been just interim excuses.
The statistics speak for themselves. The Red Devils have registered just 13 shots on target during their four away games so far this season, playing West Ham, Southampton and Wolves in the league. Once dangerous on the road, this current United squad lack creativity, confidence and show all the signs of a club unable to adapt to the modern innovations of this game.
Set piece execution continues to crumble
United’s last goal from a set piece came from now-departed Romelu Lukaku against Crystal Palace back in February, eight months ago. That streak should have ended just before the break at St. James’ Park, yet Harry Maguire sent a free header wide. Ole even acknowledged that his side must improve on form when it comes to set pieces, but only retorted “We’ll get there,” when pressed for a solution.
If United can no longer score goals from open play, then more time in training must be spent on improving their set piece performance, as this run will only indicate just how inefficient United are as a team.
Liverpool could also be Ole’s downfall
After a two-week international break, Manchester United host longtime rivals Liverpool. José Mourinho’s fate as manager was decided immediately following that dreaded 3-1 defeat last December, ushering in what we thought was a better era under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Norwegian described the October 20 contest against Jürgen Klopp’s side as a “perfect game for us,” adding “the international break is also at the perfect time because their heads need a bit of airing.”
The Liverpool match has potential to determine United’s season, and we’re not even close to the festive fixtures. A win would snap Liverpool’s 17-game winning streak in the Premier League, and a loss could see Ole could experience similar consequences to what ended his predecessor’s time at Old Trafford.