These are testing times at Old Trafford, and former Red Devils defender and Unibet Ambassador Ronny Johnsen has had his say on the current situation at the club and the big clash with Arsenal on Wednesday...
Manchester United are on the verge of crisis.
I’d like to try and phrase this another way, but after the draw with Fulham there is no doubt that if United don’t get into the Champions League places this season it will be a crisis.
We are 15 points off Chelsea at the top of the table and the calendar is only showing February. We cannot escape that the situation at Old Trafford is bleak, however much I want to deny it!
I still hope that it is possible to get into the Champions League, but it will be difficult with only 13 games left this season and Liverpool nine points ahead in fourth.
Unlike David Moyes, I hate using the phrase “unlucky” because it ties in so well with not being good enough. I would rather say we are not good enough. Being lucky or unlucky always evens out in the long run, anyway.
There are a lot of factors going into the fact that we are in such poor form, but I strongly believe that instead of blaming the manager or the players, each and every person involved should take a share of the blame and unite to turn it around together.
Fergie Created Winners
I cannot recall a similar situation when I played for United. Of course we had difficult periods, but we knew what we had to do when those periods arrived because our manager had instilled it in us.
Sir Alex Ferguson was always on about how important it was to react after we lost matches. He was looking at our attitudes after defeat more than any other time, and he created winners that way. A player that can turn defeat into a positive on the learning ladder will become a winner. That was the manager’s philosophy.
I have to admit that I am surprised at the way the goals have flooded in against us this season. They seem to come from simple, structural errors in the formation.
But that said, the defence is not only about the four defenders and the goalkeeper. We have been poor without the ball all over the field and this needs addressing.
What has surprised me tactically is how far back we are sitting. United should be able to control all the games they go into, and play attacking football.
I understand that it is difficult for the club’s younger players to take responsibility, but they have to step up their game.
The so-called experienced players are all on their way out of the club, most notably Nemanja Vidic, and so therefore we need the younger players to come forward.
It is only hard work that will spark the momentum required to get us through this blip and the younger ones will have to prove they are ready, especially players such as Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones, who all have a level of experience now.
I think it is too easy to say that if only Rio Ferdinand was free of injuries then we’d be okay. I strongly believe that these young defenders are more than capable of doing the same job, but they need to come out as leaders now. There is no one to hide behind.
I know we will get a big defender to replace Vidic in the summer. I don’t know who that will be, but I am hearing a lot of talk about the former United player Gerard Pique. I would love to see him back at Old Trafford – he’s a class act.
Even if it isn’t to be Pique, I do feel certain we will not settle for another older player at the end of his career. Vidic’s replacement will be a big name in his prime.
Arsenal match will be explosive
It is in amongst all of this that we go into a huge match at Arsenal on Wednesday. This is the kind of match that I used to love playing in; big matches when you need to stand up and be counted have historically always been good for United. But after last week’s embarrassment for The Gunners at Liverpool, Arsenal kind of need to step up too. It promises to be an explosive encounter!
I would love to say I am looking forward to the game, but my feelings are all over the place at the moment. It would probably have been better for United had Arsenal won at the weekend and not lost so heavily to Liverpool. It’s not a good time to play them - they’ll be determined to bounce back now.
I really hope that this will be the match where it turns for United. Playing against Arsenal in London is really tough, but I do have a feeling that this match suits the Red Devils.
We need to play a strong opponent now, and for the players to prove that they can turn it on at the top level.
So I’m going to tip United to win the match 2-1, with Juan Mata scoring the first goal.
Hopefully they can do it, and then all talk of a crisis will soon disappear!
Ronny’s score prediction: Arsenal 1 Manchester United 2 at odds of 11.00
Ronny’s first goalscorer prediction: Juan Mata at 13.00
Bet now on Arsenal v Manchester United