The results since the new year has been depressing. Loss to Arsenal, Liverpool and Burnley sandwiched between the two legged progress in the FA Cup against Wolves and a loss in two legs to neighbours City in the League Cup. The two victories came against bottom side Norwich and league two side Tranmere in the FA Cup 4th round! Burnley beat MUFC at Old Trafford for the first time since September, 1962. The last match before the winter break was a draw against Wolves in which Bruno Fernandes made his debut with five shots of goal, organizing the midfield but dropped deep to support the team that reduced his potency to score or assist. MUFC played better in the second half, after 88 minutes Dalot was introduced to play on right wing not Tahith Chong and the Portuguese sent his header off Man of the Match Aaron Wan-Bissaka's cross wide of the goal.It's a triple delight indeed! #BrunoFernandes , #NathanBishop & now #OdionIghalo joins the club he supported as a boy #MUFC 2019 AfCoN leading scorer, Chinese FA Cup winner at 30 gets to emulate his hero's Cole & Yorke! Not my 1st choice Thomas Mueller but I am fully behind him!— Srinivas Rao (@srinivasjrao) January 31, 2020
This game saw the victims of Munich air disaster remembered by a ceremony before the game at the memorial and during the game with a round of applause in the 58th minute. Neither Ed Woodward nor the Glazer family were present in the stadium to mark one of most important events in the annual calendar of the great institution that Sir Matt Busby painstakingly build from the bombed Old Trafford pitch post the war. The fans walk-out protest did not materialize either in the 68th minute. United and Wolves having played each other six times within a year lacked the edge to tilt the match as players and staff longed for the winter break due to depleted squad and additional matches for Europa League qualification respectively. The winter break after almost two thirds of the league fixtures having been completed isn't correctly placed but is positive step towards fulfilling a long standing demand from Sir Alex Ferguson who cited this as a major reason why continental teams had an edge in winning the European trophies during his reign. United now have not scored a goal in their last three league games against Liverpool, Burnley and Wolves.
The next six games are against Chelsea, Watford, Everton, Man City, Tottenham and Sheffield United till 21st March while most of the later seven games of the season are against the bottom half of the league except the last one against Leicester City. Solskjaer has got the two players to push for the top four, and two Cups FA and Europa. For final top four spot there are ten clubs within seven point gap chasing Chelsea including MUFC. Solskjaer is yet to win three consecutive league matches this season and based on form will lead United to its lowest ever points total in Premier League history. The return date of Paul Pogba is not yet known. Based on form if Solskjaer finishes outside the top six and fails to win a trophy questions will be raised over his position. Mauricio Pochettino who has worked on a shoe-string budget will attract the interest of any club owner, more so the business minded Glazers. As in the summer and January window this break will also see a plethora of stories linking Manchester United to attract its millions of fans to sites based at times not on fact but fiction like the take-over by Saudi's, player stories like Pogba and summer transfer wish list.
United face yet another old team of Tommy Docherty in Derby County in 5th round of FA Cup at Pride Park where Wayne Rooney is trying to revive the clubs push for promotion. Tonight the youth team play Leeds in the FA Youth Cup 5th round a stage reached for the first time since 2012 speaks volumes of the way the competition synonymous with Busby Babes and club now have not kept pace. The restructuring of the youth setup in the summer is progressing in the right direction at least. The prospect of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba playing together will cheer the supporters only if the club becomes more transparent over the Frenchman's progress from injury which on paper does not sound too serious. Pogba doing well at Euro 2020 and later sold to the highest bidder in the extended summer transfer window till end of August is the best hope. Fans though are more excited about Scott McTominay's return to help push for top 4.