Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Says Title Challenge Might Not Be Realistic Next Season

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2020

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: A thumbs up from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer manager of Manchester United after the Premier League match between Manchester United and Norwich City at Old Trafford on January 11, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said Manchester United's aim to compete for the Premier League title again in the coming seasons may not be "realistic." 

The Red Devils meet runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday at Anfield after their FA Cup third-round replay against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

In 2019-20, United are the only side to have taken any points off Liverpool, in their 1-1 draw back in October, but they currently sit 27 points behind Jurgen Klopp's side:

Solskjaer said ahead of United's visit to face their old rivals that the club's aim is to compete for the top spot in the English top flight again, but he acknowledged the gulf is currently significant, per Goal:

"That is the aim, of course. I'm not saying it is a realistic one. We are behind and a fair rate behind the top one now, who we play on Sunday, and we'll see where we are against them. But with a few signings, with the improvement these are making, in the next couple of years we want to do that.

"Supporters and the club alike are not happy with not challenging for the top position in the league. That is where we feel we should be, and many of today's supporters have lived that period where we won the league consistently."

Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired after his 13th league title triumph in 2012-13, United have not come close to winning the Premier League again.

Jose Mourinho led them to a second-placed finish in 2017-18, but the Red Devils finished 19 points behind champions Manchester City.

In six of the full seasons since Ferguson left the club, qualifying for the UEFA Champions League has been a struggle, with the Manchester giants finishing outside the top four on four occasions.

Given United sit fifth, five points back from fourth-placed Chelsea, it is likely they could miss out on the top four again in 2019-20. 

The frustrating thing about Solskjaer's first full season in charge at Old Trafford is that United have, at times, looked to be making progress, only to then stumble with another abject performance.

Outings against the bigger sides in the league have been largely successful. Not only are they the sole side to have taken points off Liverpool in the league this term, they have also beaten Manchester City, Chelsea, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

Their six losses in the Premier League, though, have come against a struggling Arsenal, as well as Crystal Palace, West Ham United, Newcastle United, Bournemouth and Watford:

Based on their current average points per game, United are on track to finish the 2019-20 campaign with around 58-60 points.

That would actually represent a decline, as even under David Moyes in 2013-14, the Red Devils' worst campaign since 1990-91, they got 64 points. Last term they finished on 66.

And with City and Liverpool having raised the bar recently for points needed to win a title, United are now arguably further than they ever have been in the post-Ferguson era from competing for the Premier League's top spot. 

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