Top on to do list for Ole Gunnar Solkjaer this summer to arrest the United slumber

The 2018-2019eason will have its good share of the United season as one of their worst, they lost Mourinho and landed Ole Gunnar who impressed the management forcing them to hand him full control of the team.

But after an impressive start to life as Manchester United manager, things have taken a dramatic turn for the worst for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his squad that once looked revived.

A 2-0 loss at home to Manchester City in the Premier League on Wednesday night was the seventh defeat in their last nine matches in all competitions for the Red Devils a record that has never been recorded in their history books.

United crashed out of this season’s Champions League at the quarter-final stage in the hands of  Barcelona leaving goalkeeper David De Gea receiving all the blame and are at risk of not qualifying for next term’s edition altogether.

It was always expected that there would be no quick fix for United as they aim to return to the glory days they achieved under Sir Alex Ferguson but as things look at the moment it is in the open that the team needs major surgery.

And with a busy summer schedule expected for Solskjaer, here is a short look at the main areas of concern that he must swiftly look into for improvement.

#1 Goal Keeping menace

United’s goalkeeper has one year left on his contract and has yet to agree on a new deal, with his employers unwilling to meet his £400,000-a-week basic wage demands.

United fans have been demanding that the number two keeper be brought on board following the number ones poor show of the game in his recent matches.

The uncertainty over De Gea’s future is now affecting his form, with the usually reliable Spaniard making a catalogue of errors in recent weeks, culminating in his two gaffes that cost United both goals in the 2-0 derby defeat to City.

United say they won’t be forced to make a decision on De Gea this summer and would be comfortable with him entering the final year of his contract, even if he hasn’t committed to a new deal.

But while his future remains up in the air, De Gea has become a liability rather than an asset and Solskjaer must resolve the situation before the start of next season.

#2 Leaking Defence

Handing contract extensions to Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Ashley Young says everything about the acceptance of mediocrity that has been allowed to permeate at United.

None of them have done anything to justify their lucrative new deals, with Luke Shaw the only one of United’s defence to have earned the right to the contract extension he signed earlier in the year.

In simple terms, United’s defence needs a major overhaul, with 50 goals conceded this season their worst record since the Premier League was formed.

Of the current defence, only Shaw and Victor Lindelof possess the requisite quality to take United forward, with Solskjaer needing a new right-back and at least one, ideally two, centre-backs of world-class stature, although there is little hope of the Glazers and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward providing the funds for the necessary strengthening at the back.

When Pep Guardiola demanded an entirely new defence at City, he got it. United must do the same if they are to have any chance of competing with the likes of City and Liverpool.

#3 Paul Pogba

How do you solve a problem like Pogba? United’s club record £89million signing has reverted to type and regressed, having flourished in the immediate wake of Solskjaer’s appointment with eight goals and six assists in the Norwegian’s first 10 games in charge.

In his subsequent 14 games under Solskjaer, Pogba has three goals two from the penalty spot and a solitary assist, and against City, he was a peripheral figure, just as he was in both legs of the Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona.

Former United skipper Roy Keane called him out in his analysis of the derby on Sky, and the time has come for Solskjaer to make a decision over Pogba, who talks a good game off the pitch but has failed to deliver consistently on it for United.

Real Madrid wants Pogba and if they are willing to pay in the region of £130m, United would do well to take it, given the World Cup winner clearly does not see his long-term future at Old Trafford and is desperate to move on.

#4 Shaky mid field

The match starts and ends in the mid field because it is here where the ball is supplied to the front for strikers and it is the same place where the defender end the ball and the mid return to help the defense when things get thick.

The current midfield personnel is simply lamentable: Pogba cannot be relied upon to perform consistently and needs to leave, Nemanja Matic had a decent first season at United but is too slow now, Ander Herrera is industrious but limited and set to leave this summer as a free agent.

Fred on the other side has been an unmitigated disaster since his £52m move from Shakhtar Donetsk, Andreas Pereira has failed to impose himself on games when given the chance on several occasions, which leaves Academy graduate Scott McTominay as the only midfielder United can rely on to deliver whenever he plays.

United need to recruit a creative midfielder with the guile of City duo David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, as well as an enforcer with the ability to dominate the middle of the pitch like Fernandinho.

It is galling for United that City, for so long the local rivals they revelled in mocking for their enduring failings, have now set the standard to which United must aspire, but that is the gnawing reality facing the Reds.

#5 Blunt and blind attacking side

For a side famed for their rich attacking heritage and gluttony for goals, United’s failure to score in open play for eight hours and 47 minutes is extraordinary.

You have to go back to McTominay’s 13th minute goal in United’s 2-1 defeat at Wolves on April 2 for the last time United scored in open play, since when they have played five matches and found the net just twice from the penalty spot, in the same game, the fortuitous 2-1 win over West Ham , with Pogba converting both spot-kicks.

Marcus Rashford is bereft of confidence and composure in front of goal, Romelu Lukaku has not scored in seven games after getting six in three, Anthony Martial has one in 10 and has slacked off since signing a lucrative new deal in January, Jesse Lingard has one in 17, while Alexis Sanchez, even accounting for his recent injury lay-off, also has a solitary goal in his last 14 appearances.

It is a pitiful return from forwards at the highest level and Solskjaer has more tough decisions to make with regards to his attack.

Rashford is wanted by Barcelona, and if United fail to make the Champions League for next season, he may decide his future lies elsewhere, while Martial, Lukaku and Sanchez could all be on their way this summer, with none providing on a consistent basis the cutting edge up front that United need to get back to the top.

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