View from the Opposition: Man Utd insider issues title race verdict ahead of Liverpool clash: ‘I can’t see us being contenders’

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Liverpool have been in largely impeccable form this term, adding another big victory to the pile after securing a rare three points in Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano.

It’s a result that simultaneously extends the Reds’ unbeaten run to 21 games across all competitions and hands Jurgen Klopp’s men a points cushion in their Champions League group.

Having said all that, the Merseysiders are set for yet another tough away fixture in the near future, with a visit to Manchester United on the horizon.

Looking ahead to a meeting between the English top-flight’s traditional arch rivals, Stretty News‘ Editor in Chief, Dale O’Donnell, shares his thoughts on the upcoming tie at Old Trafford this weekend.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has started to face questions with regard to his suitability as a Manchester United manager. Is the Norwegian suited to the role in question? Or are these concerns that you share?

Firstly, thanks for asking me to answer these questions. I have had my share of bickerings with EOTK readers over the years.

I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was suited to the role because up until now, I would argue he’s done a good job. The question going into this season was whether he could do a great job.

As fans, we have more questions eight games into the 2021/22 Premier League season than we had after the Europa League final in Gdansk. That is not a good sign.

We might be lacking in midfield but ultimately, three years in the job, Solskjaer decided to sacrifice that in the summer in order to prioritise other signings — all of which I am happy with, but the performances and lacking in style of play is a huge concern and people are bound to question our transfer activity.

There are huge games coming up and I’d still love to see him turn it around, but it’s a tough ask when every week it feels like United are overly dependent on individual brilliance.

After protests against the Glazer family last term, United’s owners invested heavily in the summer transfer window with big acquisitions, including the purchase of Jadon Sancho and a fairytale reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo. With protests tipped to return for Liverpool’s visit to Old Trafford, are these reactive to the club’s league position? Or are they genuinely focused on the Glazers’ leadership?

There is no protest planned for Sunday – but at the end of last season, there was talk of a greater push for the anti-Glazer movement. 

I speak regularly to some of those involved and the appetite is still very much there.

And, nor am I at a point, completely drunk on CR7, that I can no longer see the damage the Glazers are doing to our club.

The summer signings change nothing as far as I’m concerned and I won’t be swayed by transfers.

Jadon Sancho seems to have struggled to adjust to the Premier League in his debut season and is yet to find the net in 10 appearances (across all competitions). Is it just a matter of time before things click? Or is there a deeper-rooted issue?

It doesn’t help that United have been playing poorly all season.

Look at Raphael Varane, one of the best defenders in the world yet we still concede every week.

So, ultimately I feel the criticism of Sancho is harsh. This is a player I watched closely in the Bundesliga last season and I think there’s an extremely talented player in a shell waiting to hatch.

United must settle on a way to play and find a role for Sancho instead of throwing him out on the left and hoping for the best from week-to-week.

Despite United’s mixed start to the season the club remains only five points behind leaders Chelsea at this early stage. Do you consider the team a likely title contender this year? And, if not, what do you need to get you there?

Looking at the table now, it’s too early to say.

But I can’t see us being contenders because I watch United every week.

Not unless we significantly improve.

It must feel incredibly nostalgic having Ronaldo back in Manchester! Was his return everything the fans dreamed of?

I never dreamed of Ronaldo returning – and definitely not at 36!

But, yeah, it’s nice to have a legend back. 

Even at 36 he’s one of the best in the world and you still fancy him to score in every match.

How confident are you feeling about getting a result at Old Trafford?

The tables have turned in a sense that it is no longer Liverpool you expect to raise their game for this one as underdogs, but United, and the next step for us is turning it again.

While I wouldn’t say I am confident, I know when I’m standing in the Stretford End on Sunday that I will be full of adrenaline and telling myself we’ll beat you b*stards.

I hope the players have just as much fire in their belly.

More Stories Cristiano Ronaldo Dale O'Donnell Liverpool Manchester United

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