Is there a missing ingredient in Manchester United’s winning recipe?

The year was 1999. It was the UEFA Champions League final. 1-0 down to Bayern Munich in the 90th minute. Manchester United staged one of the most famous comebacks to secure the treble and subsequently set in stone that United was one of the best clubs the world had ever seen. 20 years later and United fans are now asking themselves what has gone so wrong. But is everything as bad as it seems? 

No one can deny that a lot has changed for United in two decades, most prominently the retiring of Sir Alex Ferguson who is arguably the best manager in the history of football and certainly in the history of the club. Whilst at the club Sir Alex Ferguson managed United to 38 trophies including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions League trophies. 

Whoever was to be appointed to follow on from Ferguson after his retirement had a near-impossible job on their hands to equal the reputation of his predecessor. David Moyes was the man the club chose to take over the managerial position but lasted only 10 months, the third-shortest managerial stint in United history and the shortest in 82 years. The only accomplishment was winning the FA Community Shield.

The cycle then continued through Louis van Gaal who won just the FA Cup and Jose Mourinho who won the FA Community Shield and the famous UEFA Europa League. Most recently the club has appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who looks extremely comfortable in the role and has no doubt changed the negative atmosphere in the club to a much more positive vibe.

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In the few months that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been managing United, he has turned the club around to the point that they are now in the Champions League quarter-finals after a historic comeback against a strong Paris Saint-Germain side. The club is also only three points off third place which will make for an exciting, nail-biting end to the season.  

However, after a 2-1 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in a match where the team looked lethargic and uninterested for the majority of the game, fans are asking what more can be done to get a great club back to its silverware winning ways? The United team is full of world class players including a World Cup winner in Paul Pogba who looks a lot stronger this season after butting heads with former manager Mourinho.

The team is also full of younger players who, having had to step up to the plate against PSG did not disappoint in the slightest. Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku are now starting to find the back of the net on a regular basis whilst David De Gea is consistently keeping goals out at the other end. Equally the defence is looking a lot stronger with Victor Lindelof proving impassable and Luke Shaw showing his worth every match.

Alexis Sanchez is due back in a few weeks after hitting another injury against Southampton but United fans are starting to question whether the Chilean can still find his form at the club despite Solskjaer stating that Sanchez will come into his own. Is it time to find a replacement for the forward? There is speculation linking United with Gareth Bale but right now it is nothing more than that.

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Looking at the recent form and results of United it doesn’t make for pleasant reading. After coming back on a high from the PSG comeback, the team lost 2-0 to Arsenal and then suffered a 2-1 defeat against Wolves, who have held their own this season, which begs the question of what’s different between what the team did in Paris and why they couldn’t do it on home soil?

Solskjaer made club history when the team achieved eight consecutive away wins in all competitions but then suffered two defeats in the last four matches. United need to show the character and determination of a side that wants to win every time they step on to the pitch so the focus really is consistency and why United are having so much trouble finding it.

Despite this, the club looks rejuvenated and re-energised under the command of Solskjaer and every United fan around the world is eager to see what seems like a much more promising future for the Red Side of Manchester with the Champions League still in contention and the possibility of a top four Premier League finish on the horizon.

It is too soon to tell what could happen with the club but the future, without doubt, is bright for the Red Devils.

Written by Chris Kaye

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