Premier League 2018-19: 3 reasons why Manchester United are likely to finish outside the top 4
Manchester United have had a tumultuous season. They had a rocky start under the management of Jose Mourinho, and Mourinho was eventually sacked and replaced by caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The team's performances experienced an incredible improvement from there and United were playing smooth, attacking football. Their unexpected comeback against PSG in the Champions League prompted the club to appoint Solskjaer as the permanent manager.
However, ever since Solskjaer's new contract has been signed, United's performances have dropped dramatically. There a few reasons that have contributed to their failure to perform on the Premier League stage, and that could cost them a spot in Europe's top-flight competition.
Here's a look at three of those reasons:
3. Sub-par squad quality and depth, primarily in defense
Quite simply, Manchester United have a sub-par squad. Their defense is in shambles.
Phil Jones and Chris Smalling would be unlikely to start in any other top 6 Premier League team. Ashley Young is a major liability and gives the ball away, on average, over 15 times a game.
Victor Lindelof is the only saving grace for the defense, but he cannot shoulder all the responsibility by himself. He needs a strong centre-back partner and United will be looking for one (Kalidou Koulibaly and Toby Alderweireld are rumored to be at the top of the list) when the summer transfer window rolls around.
Eric Bailly has the potential to be United's other centre-back to partner Lindelof, but is too rash and inconsistent to be so right now.
Additionally, the front line does not have enough support, as seen when Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard were injured. Romelu Lukaku can come off the bench, but that forces Solskjaer to shunt Marcus Rashford off to the right wing, where he is far less effective.
Solskjaer will definitely be looking to add strong players to the bench in the summer. He will also want to sort out his midfield and judge whether the currently ineffective Fred and Andreas Pereira should be sold.