One win in six games – including two humiliations by big local rivals – has raised severe questions about Manchester United’s direction under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Most of the criticism seems to have centred around the Norwegian’s failure to find a system and tactical approach that gets the most out of a talented group.
The Telegraph’s James Ducker has used the struggling Aaron Wan-Bissaka to highlight, among other things, the lack of individual progress being made.
And, again, the many of the criticisms lead somewhat inevitably towards current coaching standards at Carrington.
Ducker observes that Wan-Bissaka didn’t even warrant a mention when England coach Gareth Southgate recently discussed his full back options.
This is seen as indicative of the former Palace man’s stunted progress at the club. It’s not so long since he was being talked about as a major young talent.
Far from fulfilling the potential that saw him head up a list of 804 right-back candidates, the United man seems to be “shorn of confidence and yearning for greater instruction and direction…”
The contrast in fortunes between Wan-Bissaka and Manchester City’s João Cancelo – both bought in the same summer but poles apart in terms of progress – is also seen as telling.
Cancelo is regarded as a typical Pep Guardiola player – a good footballer who happens to play in defence. The one-dimensional United man is viewed as extremely limited by comparison.
The crisis-led change to a 3-5-2 is seen as a contributing factor with “Wan-Bissaka recast as a wing-back, a position that is serving only to thrust an even harsher spotlight on (his) technical and tactical shortcomings…”
It’s noted that the tough-tackling Red Devil had already shown signs of low confidence in his favoured position as part of a back four, so asking him to perform as a wing-back has led to him seeming even more ‘lost’.
His technical limitations lead Ducker to wonder, “…which boxes United specifically felt he ticked during the due diligence process…how much of his development has been stifled at United?”
Despite being recommended by former United ace Gary Neville, the Reds chose not to move for Cancelo. And Ducker wonders. “…does anyone think Solskjaer would have elevated (his) game to the heights…witnessed under Guardiola?”
It’s said that a player of Wan-Bissaka’s limited quality would not have been targeted by City and that, “At United, though, he is going backwards, and he is not alone.”
From scouting to coaching, it’s pretty damning stuff. The worst part being, it’s almost impossible to argue against any of it.