Manchester United’s season was a tough one. It ended in no trophies, an early cup exit, good Champions League campaign without truly great performances and a finish in the sixth place of the Premier League. We could easily split the campaign in three parts and only the shortest one was impressive. But that did not bring much to the club in the end.
Jose Mourinho’s Reign Had To End This Way
First part of the season was one under Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese manager was starting his third season at the club and historically, that meant a sour end. However, even before the pre-season truly kicked off, it was obvious things had to have a sour end. Mourinho’s first press-conference was incredibly grim and negative. In hindsight, we know that for many things Mourinho was right about this squad not being good enough, but he did not exactly put himself in a strong position with Ed Woodward in regards to summer transfer window.
Also, Mourinho’s constant negativity throughout the 2018 was hard to swallow and the players definitely did not enjoy playing under him. Martial made an early sign in the summer and then the Pogba situation was the real climax of the whole thing. Getting out of League Cup early on against Derby did not help, neither did poor form, keeping Man United far from the top four places with a negative goal-difference for the most part of the first half of the season.
The Honeymoon Reveals
The Honeymoon Period, or the period just after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over from Mourinho in December, revealed couple of things for us. First, it was the fact that this team can play much better, have desire week in week out and consistently win matches. Man United were not dropping points, they were climbing up the standings and even got into the top four after they previously trailed 11 points.
And the second thing is that once the honeymoon was over, Solskjaer was unable to get the team to play way they did just weeks before. He started changing formations, mixing up all the players, not really sure what to do exactly. Some might say it is still too early judge him, but the team kept going from bad to worse.
Solskjaer’s Tenure Kept Showing The Mess
And that is what we have learned from his tenure. Not only that Solskjaer is still limited in his tactical approach, but also that the structural mess at the club is overshadowing everything. At once, Solskjaer was suddenly unable to motivate the players, which matches in the last two and a half months are showing. Players that were brilliant, like Martial and Pogba, suddenly could not do much and Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Ashley Young kept showing why many would not mind them being sold this summer.
Across the whole season, the only positive was reaching Champions League quarterfinal, but even that achievement was scarred with the fact that in 10 matches in the competition, Man United did not have a single great performance, not even in Paris (it was a great achievement, but not the performance itself).