Analysis: Is this the lowest point for Manchester United under Solskjaer – and where to next?

As the whistle blew on Burnley’s first win at Old Trafford since 1962, you couldn’t be blamed for thinking that this was one of the lowest points to be associated with Manchester United. 

Jeered as they exited the pitch, United were stunned by a resilient Burnley on Wednesday night as Chris Wood and a spectacular Jay Rodriguez strike was enough to see the Clarets take a historic victory.

Since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013, an array of away teams have won at Old Trafford with this game marking yet another historic unbeaten home record squandered against a ‘lesser side’. 

For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the man revered by fans for his performances as a player, his status as a legend is under threat of diminishing with a rather more sour end than that night in 1999. 

He cut a beleaguered figure on the touchline as his side succumbed to defeat against a team United were expected to beat, and again failed to capitalise on Chelsea’s shortcomings above them.

Admitting on the night that he understood the “disillusionment” among fans, the Norwegian said: “At the end you do feel disillusioned because maybe they (the fans) do.

“But we’ve got to stick to our values and beliefs and it’s no use feeling sorry for yourself.

“Go out there and have the same commitment and get ready for Sunday [in the FA Cup].”

As for squad depth, optimism has not been aided by the recent injury of Marcus Rashford, along with Scott McTominay and the elusive Paul Pogba.

However, this was a game that illustrated the faults of those still left standing.

Anthony Martial was the man needing to step up to the plate with a chance to stake a claim as the club’s long-term number nine, but the Frenchman looked jarringly off the pace throughout.

He wasted two excellent opportunities from Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross and Nemanja Matic’s through ball – lacking sharpness on both occasions.

These misses only reignited the chants around the stadium against the Glazers, against Woodward and against the regime now all too familiar to the United faithful.

It felt like a new low.

The culmination of losses in the 2020 sporting calendar to Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal and the growing sense that, at least in the short term, things are not going to get any better, made it all the more telling on a night where the seats emptied, the anger roared and the fate of the club as it is seemingly just accepted.

In the immediate term, it stressed the chronic need for January purchases to rectify a squad that is under-stocked, overworked and continues to falter under the spotlight.

It would certainly be criminal if United finished the window empty handed, but with the Fernandes deal stalling and signs of other activity scarce, times are looking bleak.

Solskjaer suggested that his squad had played too many games saying: “We’ve had X amount of games since beginning of December and they are stretched.

“Some have played more than they should have and more mentally than physically they need a mid-season break (in early February).

“I’m responsible for what’s happening on the pitch and of course we’re looking to strengthen.”

As far as we can see Solskjaer remains backed by the board for the time being, but backing is surely needed.

With Pochettino reportedly waiting in the wings to take over in the summer, Solskjaer has just limited time to build something with the broken pieces at his disposal.

Either way, this is Manchester United in 2020 and surely things can’t get any worse, can they?

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