The Theatre of Dreams has been anything but that for Manchester United as they remain winless at home in the Premier League this season.
The Red Devils have collected just one point from a possible 12 at Old Trafford in the top flight so far to leave them languishing in 14th in the table.
That solitary point came in an insipid goalless draw with Chelsea last month, while Crystal Palace, Tottenham and Arsenal have all left M16 with victories. This is in stark contrast to their away form which has seen them win all three of their matches.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be demanding Manchester United improve their home form instantly
The defeat by Arsenal earlier this month means they have lost three of their four home games
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping to end his side’s miserable home record on Saturday against West Bromwich Albion, but the question is he can he?
While United have faced successive home matches against top-four rivals Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal the performances themselves have been woeful.
And reflecting on their home form even centre back Axel Tuanzebe admitted he couldn’t put his finger as to why they can’t make Old Trafford a fortress.
‘I couldn’t tell you, to be honest,’ he told United Review. ‘I think we just need to go out and play the game like it’s any other game.
‘It’s as surprising to us as it is to the fans and everyone else watching. But we definitely need to correct it.’
The 23-year-old – who celebrated his birthday on Saturday – noted that the absence of fans has made a huge difference this season, but acknowledges that this impacts both teams on the pitch and can also have positive effects as well as negative.
United opened their home campaign with a dismal defeat by Crystal Palace in September
‘You can say that the pressure from the opposition fans has kind of faded, which, to some extent, makes things easier for the away team,’ he added.
‘Fans are a massive part of the game [but] now you can hear everything that’s being said, you can communicate easily with your team-mates.’
If their season-opening 3-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace could be excused, in the loosest sense, due to a lack of pre-season following their European exertions the campaign before, then no excuses could be made for United’s next encounter at Old Trafford.
The calamitous 6-1 drubbing by Tottenham was embarrassing for everyone connected with the club but, without doubt, if fans were present the scoreline may have not been as damning.
Despite taking a two-minute lead through a Bruno Fernandes penalty, United found themselves trailing 3-1 and down to 10 men after 30 minutes following Anthony Martial’s debatable red card for a spat with Erik Lamela.
United were then embarrassingly thumped 6-1 by top four rivals Tottenham on October 4
The subsequent next home match saw Solskjaer drastically change his personnel for the visit of Chelsea. It would work to the extent that there was greater solidity defensively, but once again United lacked a true attacking presence in the match.
It was a case of deja-vu at home to Arsenal on November 1 – where United could only muster two shots on target. In truth that game seemed destined to be goalless too before Paul Pogba’s moment of madness to give away a penalty on Hector Bellerin.
Pressure will be on Solskjaer to implore a more attacking impetus within his side for when lowly West Brom visit on Saturday.
The Baggies are winless in their eight Premier League matches and sit in the relegation zone in 18th place.
Their four games away from The Hawthorns have yielded one point – with Slaven Bilic’s side having scored just three goals, while conceding 10.
United also played out a 0-0 draw with Chelsea, meaning they have one of a possible 12 points
West Brom’s plight should in theory point to a United victory. However, the Red Devils’ home form is well documented above and the visitors have a good record in recent trips to Old Trafford.
West Brom have won three of their last five away league games against United, with the other two results being a draw and a defeat. The last time this fixture was played, the Midlands outfit emerged with a 1-0 win in April 2018 courtesy of Jay Rodriguez’s strike – a result that confirmed United’s ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City as Premier League champions at their expense.
Delving further, United have failed to score in three of their last four home league games against West Brom – as many as in their previous 53 such matches against them.
Indeed, the Red Devils have failed to score in their last two against West Brom at home, last going three in a row without scoring at Old Trafford versus an opponent against Arsenal in September 1982.
United can turn their form around against West Brom, who have a good record at Old Trafford
While those statistics have nothing to do with Solskjaer as manager, the following ones do. United’s winless home slump in the Premier League stretches back to six matches if you incorporate the fact they drew with Southampton and West Ham at the end of last season.
They last failed to win any of their first five at home in a league season back in 1972-73, while they last had a longer overall winless home run in March 1978 (seven games).
To compound matters United have conceded more home goals than any other side in the Premier League this season (10). Having lost three home league games this season too, only the 2001-02 (six) and 2013-14 (seven) campaigns have seen United lose more in a single Premier League term.
Under-fire Solskjaer knows it’s about time to correct that slump. Having tasted victory at home in the Champions League, via a thumping 5-0 win over RB Leipzig, he knows it’s about time they correlate that kind of display domestically.
If they don’t then their task at securing a top-four berth will only become harder and we’re only approaching a quarter of the Premier League season.