Manchester United’s biggest challenge and what they can do about it

Manchester United are in the worst position of the five teams hoping to challenge Manchester City at the top, but they’re the club shouldering the most unrealistic expectations.
Manchester United Chelsea

Chelsea and Liverpool both have the ability and potential to take City on next season, while Arsenal and Tottenham are in a building process with little pressure — either inside or outside the club — to win the title. But United’s history and pedigree means that they will always be expected to challenge, despite obvious shortcomings that continue to undermine the team.

Right now, United don’t have a permanent manager and the team is performing dismally under interim boss Ralf Rangnick. 

Paul Pogba is almost certain to leave in the summer, Cristiano Ronaldo’s future is likely to depend on who United appoint as manager and leading players such as Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho are suffering worrying and prolonged form slumps.

United lack any kind of reliability or flair in midfield and they need upgrades in both full-back positions and up-front, where Ronaldo (36) and Edinson Cavani (34) cannot be expected to deliver consistently if they remain at the club beyond the summer.

But maybe there is a silver lining to the ever-present clouds hovering above Old Trafford.

If — and it’s a big “if” — United make the right managerial appointment, then a top-class coach could very quickly put many of their under-performing players back on track and make the team look capable of winning again. United have a good squad, but it has been allowed to drift aimlessly without elite coaching for so long they currently look like a team of strangers.

With the right coach and some key signings — a world-class goal scorer this summer, as well as a commanding midfielder — they could be back in the race next season. After all, they can’t get much worse, can they?

Chances of catching Manchester City (1=not likely, 10=guaranteed): 4 — There are too many issues to address at Old Trafford for United to win the league next season. If they hire the right coach and recruit properly, they can start the path back to challenging again, but one step at a time.