The players? Solskjaer? The Glazers? Who is to blame for the mess Man Utd find themselves in?

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The club has fallen far from its peak with only four league wins from the last 16 - so how has it got to this for the Premier League giants?

Twelfth place in the Premier League after eight matches, 15 points behind leaders Liverpool and already looking a million miles away from being capable of a top-four finish.

It wouldn't be wrong to say Manchester United are in crisis.

So who exactly is to blame? From the below-par performances of the players to the dismal transfer dealings of Ed Woodward and what of the Glazers - the men at the very top shaping the present and future of the club.

Goal takes a look at where it's all going wrong...

The players

Marcus Rashford Manchester United 2019-20

The sight of Fred mis-controlling a pass on the touchline from Andreas Pereira last Sunday against Newcastle, and fumbling the ball out of play, was enough to have the Manchester United coaching staff turning back to the bench and muttering something unrepeatable to themselves.

It’s undeniably true that the United players have let themselves down from time to time over the past few seasons. Whether it’s David De Gea making errors leading to goals, Victor Lindelof failing to win his headers or Marcus Rashford missing more than his fair share of chances, a theme running through United’s play has been the players’ inability to be consistent.

Inconsistency and downright poor form cost the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku their United careers, but plenty more still have to shape up.

New signings, like Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James in particular, have come in and taken to life at Old Trafford with relish. But there has been chronic underperformance throughout sectors of the team for far too long.

Chris Smalling, now loaned to Roma, and Phil Jones probably epitomise best the sense of things growing stale at the club. There appears to be an acceptance of weakening standards on the playing side.

There isn’t that same run-through-walls mentality around Manchester United. Players are quite happy to pick up their pay-cheques but they don’t knuckle down and suffer through the bad patches.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 2019-20

It would not be right to place all the blame at the door of the players. They are only as good as the system their manager chooses.

And there has been plenty of evidence of dysfunction within the team in Solskjaer’s 16 permanent Premier League games in charge.

They have won only four of their 16 matches during the Norwegian's permanent reign and none away from home.

Their top scorer during this period has been Marcus Rashford, with four goals, and half of those have been penalty kicks.

While his recruitment over the summer was good, with Wan-Bissaka, James and Harry Maguire giving United a boost, Solskjaer has not convinced anyone that he’s got the tactical wherewithal to make this team successful.

Too often he lines up with an extra defensive midfield player, meaning the playmaker struggles for support.

He’s got one of the best in the league in that position in Juan Mata, but the Spaniard has been unable to affect games for Solskjaer. He has not delivered a single assist since March 28 when the Norwegian got his contract.

United are ponderous going forward when opposition teams hand them the initiative. There is no recognisable method to their chance creation and their best moments have come on the breakaway through James.

Teams have got United figured out, as well as their preference for counter-attacking. If Solskjaer is to last much longer, he has to ensure solutions are sought.

Meanwhile, there has been significant pressure placed on the squad due to the number of players missing games through injury.

The manager’s decision to clear out certain individuals has left United short in key areas as they deal with enforced absences.

Ed Woodward

Ed Woodward Manchester United 2018-19

Nonetheless, the imbalance within the United squad has less to do with Solskjaer than it does with Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman.

He has worked alongside Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and now Solskjaer but the squad still looks hopelessly thrown together. There are still fragments of each manager’s team kicking around with no great long-term vision in the components selected for the squad.

He assumed the responsibilities of the out-going David Gill back in 2013, including facilitating transfer activity. Since then United have had far more misses than hits in the market.

He has overseen signings coming into the club at an outlay of close to £1bn and among those have been expensive duds like Angel Di Maria, Morgan Schneiderlin, Memphis Depay, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexis Sanchez and Fred.

He allowed the contract of their best signing during that time, Ander Herrera, to expire and he left for nothing. The contract he approved for Sanchez was the richest in English football history and put the club at a huge disadvantage in subsequent negotiations with other players, including Rashford.

He sacked Van Gaal the day he won the FA Cup. He sacked Mourinho a few months after giving him a long-term contract, a move which cost the club another £20m ($25m), and having failed to back the Portuguese in the transfer market.

He gave Solskjaer the job on the back of a lucky win in Paris and now has no place to turn as the ex-striker flounders.

He waited and waited over the summer to complete deals for Wan-Bissaka and Maguire, ultimately paying the asking price at a much later date than the club would otherwise have liked.

His inability to assemble a coherent squad has left Solskjaer dependent on the potential of Mason Greenwood, far too young to be carrying a burden of expectation.

Woodward is a favourite of the owners having helped them complete the purchase of the club in 2005. And on the commercial front, his impact has been impeccable. Recent revenues topped £627m ($793m), a record. United have grown ever-richer and more marketable thanks to the 47-year-old but it’s over there that his expertise lies.

The club’s attempts to install a sporting director or technical director have until now failed. In the meantime, Woodward is an accountant pretending to be a director of football. It’s not working.

The Glazers

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United Joel Glazer Avram Glazer

So long as the Glazers are in charge, however, there is little chance of Woodward going anywhere. The decline of Manchester United from on-field behemoths to corporatised also-rans began when Sir Alex Ferguson fell out with shareholders John Magnier and JP McManus over the ownership of the champion race horse Rock of Gibraltar.

Once the Irishmen decided to cash in on their stocks – to the tune of an £80m ($101m) profit – it put the Glazers in the driving seat.

And since that day, the six children of Malcolm Glazer, and other assorted shareholders, have reaped fat dividends.

More than £1bn has been extracted from the grandest football team in the world in dividends, fees, costs and interest since the Glazers completed their highly-leveraged purchase of the club.

In that time Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool have zoomed by, leaving United looking like yesterday’s news. On the European front, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are all on another level completely.

Moreover, the club which take in more money than almost any other has a total indebtedness of around £500m ($633m).

In United’s last financial report it was revealed: "[Our indebtedness] could… require us to dedicate a material portion of our cash flow from operations to make payments on our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flow to fund the hiring and retention of players and coaching staff… limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the football industry… affect our ability to compete for players and coaching staff."

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At a time when United continue to record all-time high revenues, it is incomprehensible that they are not the strongest club in the world.

So whether De Gea fumbles, Solskjaer makes the wrong selections, Woodward botches another transfer deal, these things alone mean very little in the overall health status of Manchester United.

It’s at the top that the problems lie.

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