Manchester United’s draw at the weekend leaves us in ninth position in the Premier League. A win would have put us up to fifth, and a loss down in 14th. It’s that tight.
Inconsistency has been a big problem this season and a real improvement is required to reach the Champions League places. We are currently nine points back from fourth.
As it stands, United would not even qualify for the Europa League.
So what would happen if United finished ninth?
If United end the season in ninth place it will be the club’s worst ever Premier League finish.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can hide behind an aim to ‘rebuild’ to an extent, but only for so long.
Finishing in ninth would mean he has seriously misjudged the depth of talent in the squad, as seems apparent so far.
As regard to next season, a ninth place finish this time around may actually be beneficial.
Assuming there will be no entry via cup competitions, which is still possible, it would leave United without European football for the first time in recent memory.
This would be a heavy disappointment, but it might actually be beneficial.
European football and playing twice a week is testing this United squad. Probably beyond it’s limits.
Being able to focus solely on the Premier League would help minimise injuries, improve fitness, and ensure more preparation time for matches. All of that should improve results.
It might be the backwards step United actually need re-focus on getting it right in the Premier League. There will be no hiding behind European results.
The big problem for Solskjaer is that while this backwards step could help him out next season, he may not be there to benefit from it.
United finishing ninth would symbolise real backward progress. Calls for Solksjaer to be sacked would intensify from pundits and supporters. What if it actually got worse instead of better? It is possible that he would be fired.
There are high quality available managers out there, Massimiliano Allegri and Mauricio Pochettino to name just two.
One of them could really benefit from the groundwork Solskjaer has laid in terms of bringing through young players.
They could come in with a fresh set of ideas too, and lead United back to the top in 2020/21.
Without any European football as a distraction, and new signings incoming, the situation could provide the right circumstances for United to finally get back on track.
Put it this way. We won’t be hoping for a ninth place finish or similar, but it might be the cold hard remedy Manchester United need.
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