We’ve all heard the jokes about Ole being at the wheel, and the bus heading for a cliff just like in the Italian Job. I suppose we have to blame Rio Ferdinand for that when he got all excited because United won a couple of games when he was a pundit on BT Sport.
However, he was kind of right. Ole is the man who is driving this team at the moment, whether that be to glory or some of the darkest times this club has seen in its long and illustrious history. Only time will tell, but it seems like he’s stuck on a roundabout at the moment, just going in circles.
Every week we hear the same old “it wasn’t good enough” followed by how they’re going to get back to the training ground to put things right. Then they win a game and all seems well, but who are we kidding, beating Spurs was just a plaster over gaping wounds. They’re the only team (besides Norwich) that are a bigger laughing stock than United right now. Then United go and get beaten by derby rivals Manchester City.
But at least Spurs have done something about their driver behind the wheel, by bringing in a world class manager in Conte. We’re still stuck with a man whose greatest managerial achievements are being relegated with Cardiff in the Premier League and winning some trophies in a league no one really cares about.
Is the board right to stick with Ole? Should the fans get behind the club legend? Or should they be looking to get someone new in? And if they do let him go, who do they bring in? Zidane has already said he doesn’t want the job, and who can blame them. Then the rest of the top managers around right now are taken. Heck, even Aston Villa have a potential class manager recruiting Gerrard from Rangers. Not that we’d want him anywhere near Old Trafford, or would we?
Much like Ole, we’ve steered the wheel off course, so let’s get back on the road to Europe. Does he have a chance of leading United to the knockout stages? What do the best online betting sites have to say about their odds? Let’s take a look.
As it stands
As it stands, Manchester United currently top their group, with their odds of progressing being for once this season, overwhelmingly in their favour at 2/5. They’ve played four games so far, winning two, whilst also drawing and losing one game each. The game in which they lost was the tournament opener, and a big shock, not just losing the lead, but then giving Young Boys a win thanks to a terrible back pass from Jesse Lingard.
But then they made a comeback from a goal down themselves against Villareal, who took a deserved lead before Ronaldo rescued the Red Devils as he has done many times this season already since his return. And it seemed to be a story that repeated itself in Europe this year, because the same thing happened against Atalanta in game week three. Fortunately, luck was on United’s side, and they clawed back from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
They then played the Italians again in game week four, and it was the same old story once more. Two goals down at half time, it seemed to be a repeat of the first half from the first game. And it almost was, as United once again pulled it back thanks to the GOAT, although this time, the Reds could only manage a draw, but it was enough to keep them sitting atop of Group F.
Up next it’s Villareal again. The Spanish side dominated the game last time, and being brutally honest, they should’ve absolutely spanked us. We had no right winning that game, but sometimes lady luck, and Cristiano Ronaldo, are on your side. It’s probably one of the only reasons Ole is still driving the United bus, that and Sir Alex whispering words into the ears of the United board. Possibly needs to cut back on the whiskey before he causes permanent damage.
The good news is, a win will secure them qualification. It doesn’t guarantee them top spot, because if Atalanta win their next two games, and Young Boys pull off another miracle, they will top the group. But the positive is that United have a strong chance of making it through. If they draw, it will all come down to the final game, but as long as United win that, their fate should be in their own hands.
Should Villarreal win, and Atalanta beat Young Boys, then that would sit United in third, three points behind the top spot, and a single point behind second. So it would still be all to play for, and at the very worst, should secure United a place in the Europa League. Which nobody really wants, but would be an easier competition to win, and with their dismal form in the league this season, would offer another route into the Champions League next season.
The issue comes if United lose to Villareal, despite being favourites. Because depending on the scoreline, even if United win their final game, if Atalanta beat Villareal in the final week of the group stages, it could all come down to head-to-head records. And whilst United are doing better in that respect with Villareal right now, a heavy loss means even if they finish level on points, it may not be enough to secure them a place in the knockout stages.
Only time will tell which way Ole steers the bus in Europe, we just have to hope he’s on the right side of the road and going in the right direction.