Everton 4-0 Man Utd: Top four hopes are definitely over for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men

Everton

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had a big chance to go into top four for the first time in recent months, with their next fixture being against Everton, a side that are in the top half of the table and have produced several huge results against the league’s top-six this term at home.

Marco Silva’s side started the game on all fronts, as they enjoyed majority of the possession in the first half and were causing a number of problems in United’s own half. It only took the hosts 13 minutes to take the lead, which started off from a long throw-in from Lucas Digne, which was touched on by Dominic Calvert-Lewin before Richarlison volleyed the ball into the back of the net.

Everton doubled their lead through a counter attack just before the half an hour mark, which was via a well-taken shot by Gylfi Sigurdsson which somehow caught David De Gea off guard. On the other hand, the visitors were unable to do anything in the first half, as they allowed the hosts to play the ball around with flair and freedom whilst reaching the half-time break with no shots completed on target at all.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors in the second half, as Everton were not even trying to pile on the pressure and still managed to score another two goals through Lucas Digne and Theo Walcott. As a whole, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United will now see this season as a finished one, with no trophies to play for as well as the hopes of finishing in the top four being over.

Here are the three factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…

Lack of defensive composure from the team

United were all over the place from start till end, especially on the defensive side of the game, where they allowed Everton complete 15 shots, with eight of them being on target. Over the last couple of weeks, it has been more than clear that the side cannot soak up the pressure and defend for majority of the game, yet they still decide to sit very deep rather than making the opposition work on and off the ball.

Like many managers and players have said in the past, the best form of defence is to attack, meaning the more you play in the opponent’s half and the more you attack the ball in that side of the pitch, the less defensive duties you will have to worry about. If United were able to use this saying and put it into serious play, they would have a better chance of winning league matches constantly whilst being defensively sound.

No urgency or desire to dominate and retrieve possession

With the recent statistics stating the hosts ran 8kms more than the visitors, it really sums up the game as a whole of which side were more desperate and hungry for the three points and which one were not. On top of that, Tottenham Hotspur’s defeat against Man City yesterday and Arsenal losing to Crystal Palace today, will inflict more frustration and pain into United’s missed and wasted chance of going into the top four.

For sure, the Red Devils have had the chances here and there to return into the top four over the last couple of weeks, but it cannot be possible to complete without dominating possession properly and creating constant chances. The side looked like they became a high pressing team in Ole’s first few games in charge; however, they have now referred to a defensive or a park the bus method that was once deployed under Jose Mourinho, who was crucified by literally everyone for this specific style of play.

Manchester United need to act quickly and prepare for the summer window

With how the season has panned out so far and the fact that the club have gone through another campaign trophy-less, Manchester United need to get their act together and prepare themselves for a make or break summer transfer window. If they fail to buy and sell the correct players, they may not go on to compete in any competitions effectively for the next two to three years whilst also possibly losing their main stars.

Overall, the club have wasted a lot of money and have not planned well in each of the summer windows they have gone through since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. However, if they manage to spend aggressively and miss out on the areas that badly need strengthening, they will start to fall down the pecking in the Premier League. Something they are currently facing, and could fall even further below both Arsenal and Chelsea, two football clubs who have been facing their own problems in recent months.

Four Championship players who have the capability of being a big hit in the Premier League

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Premier League football is a month or so away from coming to an end, with some clubs currently chasing for a top four finish whilst the others are aiming to escape the relegation zone before it is too late.

With the summer transfer window being just a few months away, most of the teams will definitely be looking at the familiar names within the top five leagues to purchase. However, no harm would be done if many of the mid-table sides are scouting the lesser-known players in the divisions below the top flight.

It’s no secret that the transfer fees continue to rise massively summer by summer, especially for the talented players from the Championship, though it shouldn’t put many of the big teams in the Premier League off, as many of the rising gems and youngsters have proved their crucial worth so far this season.

The quality of the Championship and League One football may not be on the same level as the Premier League, but players from the second and third tier have shown how good they are at the top level of English football in recent years, with the likes of Dele Alli, James Maddison and Joe Gomez being the perfect examples to have gone on to do well at their respective clubs.

Here are the five players who are impressively talented and could become unplayable at the highest division of English football, if they are to reach that level through promotion or a huge transfer move…

Che Adams – Birmingham City

Being one of the five players to have bagged over 20 league goals in just less than 40 Championship starts, Che Adams is currently enjoying his third season at Birmingham City, which is proving to be his most prolific one till date. At the age of 22, the Leicester-born forward has a long career ahead of himself, as he is already showing his rising ability to score from open play as well as from his favoured right foot.

Scoring 22 of Birmingham’s 58 league goals so far this campaign, he has kept his team above the relegation zone practically on his own, which already clearly shows how much of an impact he has been at St Andrew’s and under manager Garry Monk over the last six to nine months. And following his recent contributions, he has begun to gain the attention and recognition for a number of Premier League clubs.

Known for his incredible pace and his amazing eye for goal, he is also able to work hard defensively along with his team-mates whilst completing the required tackles and tactical fouls when required. Having already being reportedly linked with a huge move to the top flight of English football, a potential move to the likes of Leicester City, Southampton or West Ham may make sense for his long-term career plans.

Conner Roberts – Swansea City

Since his senior debut for Swansea City in 2018, Conner Roberts has been a regular starter for the club this season and has been earning all the rewards he deserves, after spending a number of years in the youth academy as well as the unsuccessful loans at Bristol Rovers and Middlesbrough. Now, he is playing week in and out at right-back and has also achieved nine appearances for Wales over the last year or so.

Over the last couple of years, English football has evolved to the next level and improved tactically, where the full-backs are starting to play a crucial role on both sides of the pitch and are proving to be a main factor in offering another dimension to the team’s attacking ideas. On that note, Roberts looks to be doing the same for Swansea so far this term, as he has managed to achieve five goals and one assist.

Roberts has completed 46 key passes so far this season and has produced the same amount as league goals as attacking midfielder Bersant Celina, which makes him Swansea’s second-highest creative threat within the final third of the pitch. If he continues to remain consistent defensively and attackingly, he could easily become a wanted man ahead of the summer window, as the lack of quality right-backs in the Premier League is starting to become a huge concern.

John Egan – Sheffield United

It is never easy to find a good defender in the Championship, whether it is a centre-back or a full-back, because the defending in this division compared to the Premier League is a few standards below. However, Sheffield United’s John Egan has proven to be one of the best defenders in the Championship, having played a colossal job in help the Blades to have the second best defensive record in the league.

Before making his move to Sheffield last summer, Egan previously got going at both Brentford and Gillingham, where he gained the experience as well as the game time to become a good centre-back that allowed him to play for a club with more ambition and higher aspirations. Standing at 6ft one inch tall, he has the presence to be aerially dominant on both sides of the pitch, especially through the set-pieces.

For sure, he may not seem as an ideal candidate to make a move to any of the teams in the top half of the table, due to those clubs already having better players and individuals with more potential. However, the likes of Bournemouth, Burnley and Newcastle United could do with his leadership and presence at the heart of defence, where he can literally get the best out of the backline as well as the rest of his team.

Said Benrahma – Brentford  

The league’s current top player in terms of assist is none other than Said Benrahma, who will be hoping that his 14 assists as well as his 10 crucial goals will allow his team to finish in the top half of the table at the end of the season. After moving away from the reserve team of Ligue 1 side Nice, last summer, the Algerian has now found a place where he play to his potential and in a team that is based around him.

Although Benrahma’s contributions have been appreciated by quite a lot of people, his displays for the club may be forgotten if Brentford end up being unsuccessful with their aim of picking up maximum points or somewhere along 16 to 18 league wins as a whole. Either way, the 23-year-old will have caught the attention of many by now, as he looks to have reached the early peak days of his football career.

Possessing the intelligence and understanding to play down the flanks as well as in the number ten role, Benrahma would without a doubt not find it hard to handle the physical style of play against the Premier League midfielders and defenders. When you see the likes of Felipe Anderson, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ryan Fraser having a solid season, it will surely motivate him to finally make that big move to the top flight.

Man Utd 2-1 West Ham: Another unconvincing win at Old Trafford

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With fixtures against the likes of Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City coming up over the next couple of weeks, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had to win their next fixture, being against West Ham at home, a side that have won four league games away from home this season.

As Liverpool take on fourth-place Chelsea in the Sunday afternoon fixture whilst Arsenal face a tricky away day at Watford on Monday evening, it was crucial for the Red Devils to win whilst put in a dominant display on both sides of the pitch, something they haven’t done in quite a long time at Old Trafford.

United were all over the shop, with no defensive composure whilst lacking the required balance in midfield and inconsistent play up in attack. On the other hand, Manuel Pellegrini’s men were causing havoc from start till end, through the likes of Arthur Masuaku, Felipe Anderson and Michail Antonio.

As a whole, the hosts were able to get the two goals through Paul Pogba, who managed to score from the penalty spot in each halves of the game. Meanwhile, the visitors levelled up in the first couple of minutes in the second half, where Anderson’s goal came through United’s defensive mistakes.

Here are the three main factors we learnt from United’s latest league game…

United’s defensive problems continue to increase week by week

Looking at the teams currently in the top four spots and then seeing United lingering around in either fifth or sixth place, it has to be considered that the goals conceded and goal difference will play a huge part in who ends up playing in the Champions League next season. At the moment, United unsurprisingly have the worst, conceding on 44 occasions in 33 Premier League games.

Throughout the campaign, the side have had constant problems defensively, where both Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have failed to identify the solution as well as find out the best backline to place on a regular basis. And if it wasn’t for David De Gea’s brilliant saves, Manchester United would have conceded the same amount of goals as Brighton and West Ham by now.

West Ham were unlucky to leave Manchester without a draw or a win

The West Ham players along with Manuel Pellegrini will have felt hard done by once the final whistle had arrived, given that Felipe Anderson’s goal in the early minutes of the game was harshly ruled out for offside, whilst United were given two penalties to pick up the three much needed points. Luckily enough, the Hammers are not in a relegation battle, or they would have definitely complained about the decisions made by the referee and the linesman’s to the FA (Football Association) straightaway.

Despite conceding two goals, the visitors played well for majority of the game, where they were dominating possession and were playing with flair through the middle as well as down the flanks. When you come to Old Trafford and attempt 18 shots with four of them being on target, which was the same as what the hosts had managed, you can definitely leave with your heads held high even if no points were picked up.

Fred and Paul Pogba together dragged the side to the crucial three points  

For sure, there were not many positives at all to take from the game, but the chemistry and understanding that Fred and Paul Pogba have started to gain between one another is allowing the midfield to dictate and dominate the match to another level. With both players having the ability to drop deep when required and the intelligence to command for the ball regularly, United’s midfield looks more energetic and as a possession-based team when the duo are working their magic.

The renaissance of Fred has been more than helpful to all parties, where he had some concerning issues at adjusting life to the Premier League and showing his quality on and off the ball, but he is now doing enough to prove why he deserves to play as a regular starter. As Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic look to be out for another two to three weeks with an injury, it may give the Brazilian international the perfect amount of time to show what he is capable of to his critics and to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer himself.

Manchester United v Barcelona – Who were the best performers for the Red Devils

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Going into the match, majority of the Old Trafford faithful would have seen this as an intense fixture against Barcelona, but also as a bonus one, given the monumental comeback they produced versus Paris Saint-Germain in the previous round. Meanwhile, the La Liga champions were looking to make a potential statement, as they aim to achieve their sixth Champions League trophy in club history.

The 1-0 victory to the Spanish giants much sums up the match, where the hosts were unable to create chances and failed to complete a shot on target whilst the visitors were comfortable with the away goal and did not push badly for the second to take back to Camp Nou. On the other hand, the Red Devils were just about consistent defensively, but were not able to break down the opposition’s defence and were only allowed to create a few half chances from Barcelona’s sloppiness on the ball.

With United having a bit downfall over the last couple of weeks or so, including an unconvincing victory over Watford and a defeat Wolves away, it was more than important that the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were able to put on a hard work of a performance. Despite being the underdogs and having little squad depth, there were no excuses for the players to not put on a complete display.

Now, it’s time to take a look at United’s best performers against Barcelona back on Wednesday…

Fred

Since joining Manchester United last summer for just over £50million, Fred has had some minor issues in adjusting life to the Premier League and doing enough to show he deserves to play as a regular starter.

However, over the last couple of weeks he has began to show his quality, especially in the Champions League, where he started off with playing a crucial role in the second leg against Paris Saint-Germain to now proving he is a midfielder that is active and energetic player against Barcelona.

The Brazilian international was a really busy player in the middle of the pitch, completing 64 passes at a successful rate of 86.5%, winning five of the attempted nine duels and dribbling past two players whilst in possession of the ball. With Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic out with injures problems, it is more than fair to say that Fred had quite a good match from the start till the final whistle.

Scott McTominay

Just like Fred, Scott McTominay was another midfielder that was able to put in a good shift on both sides of the pitch and was able to keep his head up high despite the defeat. Thanks to his aerial presence and willingness to press when required, both Arthur and Sergio Busquets were unable to dictate and dominate the match to the highest level like they normally do so.

As Matic is starting to lose his legs and is suffering a massive decline throughout the season, McTominay could potentially be the long-term defensive-midfielder that the club has been looking for in recent seasons. And if not, he could be utilised as a squad player, to play in games that may need his drive and work rate, something that Darren Fletcher used to do under Sir Alex Ferguson.

As a whole, the youngster has come up with a number of bright performances this season and the one against Barcelona will be added to his collection. Being a player that came through the youth academy over the last couple of years or so, McTominay will definitely be backed by the Old Trafford faithful to have a good career at the club, whether he goes on to prove that he is good enough to be a regular starter or not.

Victor Lindelof

He may not be seen as the type of centre-back that will constantly go head to head or into a physical battle with the opposition’s forwards, but Victor Lindelof has shown his pure quality on the ball as well as his leadership ability to guide the his team-mates in defence and midfield. Once he commits to being more dominant and aggressive, he will be regarded as the club’s best defender for sure.

During the Barcelona fixture on Wednesday, the 24-year-old Swede had a busy night down the right at Old Trafford, as he was playing along Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw in what looked like a back-three formation with Ashley Young and Diogo Dalot as the wing-backs. Due to this setup, the side were able to have enough protection defensively whilst intending to counter down the flanks.

Lindelof went on to complete two interceptions, three clearances, two successful duels whilst completing 33 passes at a success rate of 84.6%, evidently proving he had a lot of work to complete on and off the ball. Had Barcelona pushed for a second goal in the second half of the match, a full review would have been provided on if Lindelof is defensively composed to be a world class defender.

Manchester United have to be ruthless in the summer by selling their beloved old guard

Old Guard

Manchester United have without a doubt suffered a huge downfall over the last six years, where they have failed to challenge for the Champions League and Premier League effectively in that time. On top of that, the ongoing problems on and off the pitch have been clear for quite some time now, which could not be fixed or solved by the likes of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.

A lot of managers and players have come in throughout the last couple of seasons or so, however, not many of the deadwood individuals have actually been shipped out of the club since the departure and retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. From then till now, players such as Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones continue to play regularly for the team despite not being good enough.

Each one of the coaches have had their good and bad moments at Old Trafford, but have not been able to match the club’s style of play as well as produce the consistent results that you expect from a big club like Manchester United. Also, the same goes for the big signings that have come through, who have not been able to rally the side on or create the big moments that were badly needed.

Now, it’s time to focus back on the old guard and to why the board and Ed Woodward should be blamed for the situation the club are currently in at this moment of time. Many still remember the days of when Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young were the side’s main starters at full-back, two players who used to play as wingers week in and out but used in a position they are not experts in.

Thanks to the arrival of Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw being more injury-free this season, it has led Valencia to only play in the league on five occasions as he is expected to leave in the summer on a free transfer. Meanwhile, Young has been playing a lot this season either at left-back or right-back, where he is a defensive liability and is a huge burden in terms of progressing forward with the ball.

And in the heart of defence, both Jones and Smalling have played too many games than necessary in a United jersey, where they have committed constant mistakes whilst not showing enough intelligence and quality on the ball. Victor Lindelof has been at the club for nearly two seasons, and is already proving to be the side’s best defender, summing up the severe problems in defence.

Once upon a time, Jones and Smalling were brought into to be the long-term replacement for Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, but have been unable to reach the top tier level that many of the football experts had predicted them to reach for both club and country. Fast forward the clock, the English duo have spent more than seven seasons at the club and are yet to show consistent displays.

Potentially, United may have to take a page out of Pep Guardiola’s book in his second campaign at Manchester City, where the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager got rid of individuals such as Aleksandar Kolarov, Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy, Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta, players who were no longer crucial or useful enough despite spending a number of years at the Etihad stadium.

The club may feel they will miss out on the experience and leadership of the old guard, on the other hand, the hungry and younger player will strive on the opportunity of playing regular football and also in their natural position. Not only that, it will allow the side’s style of play to be more fluid and unpredictable, as it currently looks to be limited and lethargic through the middle and the flanks.

Overall, the Old Trafford faithful will be hoping that the hierarchy are bitterly seeing the rivals in Liverpool and Manchester City challenge for the league whilst United are sat in sixth-place and are attempting to finish in the top four to save their season. If the people in charge truly care about the club, they would be making their plans for the summer window, including on how to get rid of the deadwood.

Wolves 2-1 Man Utd: Top four hopes are starting to run away from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men

ABC

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had a big chance to go into top three spots for the first time since the start of the season, with their next fixture being against Wolves, a side that are in the top half of the table and have produced several huge results against the league’s top-six this term.

Looking at it as a whole, United created a few big chances in the first half and dominated the possession of the ball for majority of the game, but still went on to only score once throughout the whole match. Meanwhile, Wolves defended confidently in their own half and were able to use the man advantage to their extent, when Ashley Young was sent off in the 57th minute of the contest.

The Red Devils took the lead through Scott McTominay, who scored his first Premier League goal for United as his well-taken shot somehow went past Rui Patricio and into the back of the net. However, the hosts equalised and cancelled out the visitor’s lead in 12 minutes, with a tidy finish from Diogo Jota following a lack of communication from the likes of Ashley Young, David De Gea and Fred.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors in the second half, as Young’s red card led Solskjaer with no choice but to bring off Fred, to allow defender Phil Jones to enter the pitch in order to gain stability. Not long after that, Wolves were on their way to a comeback, as a counterattack led through the flanks ended with an unsurprising mistake from De Gea whilst Chris Smalling drifted the ball slowly into the net.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…

Big chances missed in the first half

United had the perfect start to the game at the Mollineux Stadium, right up until the equaliser from Diogo Jota, where they were enjoying the ball on both sides of the pitch and were progressing into the opposition’s half through the middle and the flanks. A few minutes into the game, Romelu Lukaku had the perfect chance to score from an inch-perfect cross by Diogo Dalot, which was unfortunately headed straight at the keeper.

On the other hand, Jesse Lingard also had a good cross from the left flank and opted to head the ball towards goal, which took the pace and height off the ball before it reached towards the defender and the goalkeeper. With these two big chances, United would have had a comfortable and straightforward 2-0 or 3-0 lead before Jota had scored, allowing the side to not drop momentum going into the half-time break.

The big game players in David De Gea and Paul Pogba seemed distracted

When it comes to intense fixtures like these and ones that can play a major role in finishing in the top four, one would expect the main key players in the team to lead by example and to help restore confidence and faith into the team. Though, this was not done at all by David De Gea and Paul Pogba, two individuals who were not at their best and have been below par in recent weeks whilst the rest have been lacking badly too.

For sure, both players are seen as the club’s two main assets on and off the pitch, and they may be linked with the likes of Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, but they have not done enough to show why they deserved a massive contract extension. The duo may feel uninterested with the club’s lack of ambitions, but they cannot be lacking professionally at this stage of the season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a massive task from now till the end of the season

Just under a week ago, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was over the moon as he received the news that he has become Manchester United’s permanent manager for the next three years. However, he will feel the hardest part of the job will be now, as he just about beat Watford on the weekend and has now suffered a defeat to Wolves, which leaves them in fifth-place as Arsenal and Spurs have a game in hand to play very shortly.

Having a quick look at the fixtures remaining, the Red Devils have to still face the likes of Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City in the league whilst going head-to-head against Barcelona in the Champions League. With how the circumstances have changed and how quick and fast the matches are coming, it seems very unlikely that Manchester United will go on to finish in the top four of the Premier League.

Manchester United 2-1 Watford: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wins his first game as permanent manager

RashToto

Manchester United had the chance to re-enter the top four positions for the first time in recent weeks, with their next fixture being at home to Watford, a side that have won five league games away from home and are sat in the middle of the table. With Arsenal playing on Monday and Tottenham facing Liverpool on Sunday afternoon, it was a massive must for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men to achieve the much needed three points as well as the victory itself in a dominant manner.

As a whole, the visitors were the ones who surprisingly started the game and ended the game on a high note, where they forced the hosts to sit deep for majority of the first half but failed to create the clear chances to test the goalkeeper David De Gea. However, the first goal of the match actually came from United, as Marcus Rashford latched onto Luke Shaw’s perfect through ball and swept it passed Ben Foster, who had rushed out from his line to do his best to put the centre forward off.

Following the Rashford goal, the Red Devils completed the first half in the ideal way, but could have done more to complete the win with the number of shots they had on goal. The two main attempts that will be remembered the most by the Old Trafford faithful at the half time break would be, Anthony Martial’s chance from a corner which was literally hit straight at Foster, and the other one being Rashford’s dribble from the right into the middle but the shot not causing any problems at all as the defenders had it covered.

The second half was the same as the first, with Watford dominating the possession of the ball and grew in more confidence by the minute whilst United were not sure whether to sit deep or to press high up the pitch. United thought the game was set and match with Martial scoring for the home team in the 72nd minute, though, the side faced a huge scare towards the end of the match as Abdoulaye Doucoure pulled a goal back for Javi Garcia’s men, who were simply not ready to give up till the final whistle.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…

Midfield were ineffective and sloppy

As the usual midfield trio of Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba came out to play at Old Trafford against Watford, it felt like the three players had not played for a long time or were not familiar of one another. The balance on both sides of the pitch was not there, as they looked out of their depth in the opposition’s half and could not defend consistently enough when required.

Both Matic and Pogba had quite a few poor moments throughout the match, where they lost possession of the ball easily and were unable to pick out the simplest of passes. Meanwhile, Herrera was alright to some extent but failed to influence the game as a whole. Given the performances in midfield, it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see Fred or Scott McTominay return into the team for the Wolves fixture on Tuesday night.

Watford will surely end the season on a high note

It’s been quite some time where a team from outside of the Premier League top-six had dominated and overrun the hosts at Old Trafford whilst looking like they are going onto to win the match. If Watford had an attacking midfielder with pace and trickery and a much more complete forward, they would have surely converted one of the eight shots they had on target before Doucoure had scored in the final minutes of the game.

Although the current focus is on who will win the league, who will finish in the top four and who will be relegated to the Championship, Javi Garcia’s Watford deserve more appreciation and credit for the type of football they are playing and how well they have done against the bigger teams. Leicester City and Wolves have received a lot of gratitude in recent months for their desire and results in the huge games, but it’s time for Watford to get their fair share of recognition of how they have managed to do it their way.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer showed when and how to make changes

The questions were raised during the matches against Arsenal and Wolves a few weeks ago, on if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has the intelligence to understand when to make the substitutions and how to change the game around. In the first game after the international break, the 46-year-old Norwegian international proved the critics wrong with the two changes that helped his side to win the game.

Solskjaer showed off his cleverness in the second half of the match, where he brought on both Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard for Ander Herrera and Juan Mata, two players that went on to inject more energy and pace into the side’s midfield and attack. Ten minutes after that, Ole was forced into bringing Martial off due to a minor knock he picked up, but was smart in adding Marcos Rojo into the team and went to a back-three setup, as Watford started to pile on the pressure and were looking for the equaliser.

Digging deep into the potential that Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford has

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When you look at Manchester United’s attack, you see two bright and talented gems in Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, two individuals who have the capability of becoming Premier League beaters within the matter of months. However, the duo’s development has been stagnated and been put on pause, due to the fact that Jose Mourinho has failed to them both to the next level.

The inconsistencies and issues to be clinical in front of goal have been there, but the attackers have been unable to take the game up a notch during the 56-year-old Portuguese international’s three years at Old Trafford. Since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Rashford has been able to pick up his fine form once again whilst Martial has had problems with injuries and small struggles off the pitch.

Now, focusing more onto Marcus Rashford, he has huge potential at a young age and the type of player he wants to become is an important choice to make. Having played a large number of games as a winger whilst being utilised in a more central position recently, it is more than crucial for the youngster to recognise which role suits him best, which is starting to become clear as time goes on.

At the age of 21, the Wythenshawe-born star has already achieved crucial goals against the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. Not only that, he has impressively scored on his debuts in majority of the competitions, from the Europa League in May 2016 to the Champions League in September 2018, allowing him to become an instant fans favourite.

Looking at the numbers he is producing in the Premier League, he is expected to reach double figures before the season comes to an end, as he is currently on nine goals with eight games remaining. And even when he is not shooting from distance or isn’t ruthless with his finishing, he has put his team-mates into good scoring opportunities, helping him to reach to a number of six assists.

Once the season comes to an end, majority of the Old Trafford faithful as well as the Premier League experts will be expecting the Englishman to consistently hit double figures in terms of goals and assists for the next five to ten years. This will only be possible if the team is built around him, as he has completed fewer shots in the penalty area (37) than the regular forwards in Jamie Vardy (49), Joshua King (44) and Salomon Rondon (50), summing up the side’s lack of attacking identity.

For sure, Rashford’s dribbling ability and burst of pace will give him the advantage over a majority of centre-backs and full-backs, but it’s his decision making and lack of concentration in the final third that prevents him from being compared to the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele. If he was to improve on these two areas, he will be seen as the perfect striker for both club and country.

He may want to look at the careers of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, two players who were very successful at Manchester United, with the former still being seen as one of the best footballers in the world whilst the other suffered a decline which led him to the Major Soccer League (MLS). The only difference between the pair is that one of them devoted their body and whole life to nothing but football whilst the other enjoyed a number of perfect seasons but failed to look after himself.

Overall, the world is at his feet and he will be going through a lot of good moments and bad moments through his career, where his mindset and reactions will be the major role that plays in the outcome. As long as he is developed and improved by the right manager and coaching team, there should not be a problem at all for Marcus Rashford to go on to become a top forward or winger.

The international break came at a good time for Manchester United

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If you ask a football fan of one of the things they hate the most during an ongoing season, it’s an international break, which tends to last for 10 to 14 days. In that time, a number of negative factors tend to pop up, such as injury problems and being distanced away from the club squad for some time, but without these matches, there wouldn’t be a European Championship or a World Cup.

Now, focusing on Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it can be straightforward to mention that the break away from club football has come at a good time. With the side suffering back to back defeats away at Arsenal and Wolves for the first since the departure of Jose Mourinho, the team are in need of a required rest whilst the interim coach plans well for the final two months of the season.

Although the side are currently just outside of Premier League top-four and have recently been knocked out from the FA Cup, the work that Solskjaer has done to revive the club’s style of play whilst enjoying a good run in the Champions League deserves a lot of credit. Not only that, he has reinstalled confidence into the Old Trafford faithful with the belief that the club are close to bouncing back.

Looking at the recent news, the likes of Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic, Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof have either been withdrawn from international duty or have not joined due to personal reasons. With how it is being seen, if the individuals have actually returned to focus more on league football, it will mean that Solskjaer has taken a huge page out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s book.

Meanwhile, players such as Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling and Jesse Lingard are not involved at all with the international fixtures, allowing them to regain instantly to full fitness whilst also training in hotter conditions abroad to reach a higher level. If they can use this spare time effectively and professionally, they could be the perfect players to lead the charge to return into the top four.

Both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur had their fair share of injuries in recent months, so this factor should not be used as an excuse if the side go on to missing out on a Champions League spot for next season. On top of that, United’s results in the home fixtures have not been dominant enough, where they have suffered draws in the hands of Arsenal, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Wolves.

Analysing the league table as a whole, Arsenal and Chelsea seem to have the ideal list of fixtures compared to Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, but will have to be aware of rotating the team around if they are to seriously compete for the Europa League. On the other hand, the Red Devils still have to face Chelsea and Manchester City at home in April, which could potentially play a huge part or role in whether the team will go on to finishing inside or outside of the top four.

Overall, winning the Champions League is very unlikely, but the main aim for Manchester United is to make sure they are featuring in the competition once again next season. This will allow them to prepare for a successful summer transfer window and have a clear understanding of who to buy and sell. If they fail to do so, the 2019-20 campaign would be the third year where they failed to qualify for the biggest competition in Europe, since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final year at the club in 2014.

Wolves 2-1 Manchester United: Back to back defeats for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men

Wolves

Manchester United had a really good chance to stamp a marker of being the favourites to win their first silverware in the FA Cup under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Though, the quarter-final fixture was not straightforward with it being a difficult one against Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves away from home, a side that have picked up a number of results against the Premier League’s top-six so far this season.

Overall, United started on a positive note and dominated possession for majority of the match, but failed to breakdown the opposition’s defence and did not test goalkeeper John Ruddy until the final moments of the game. Meanwhile, Wolves were defended in numbers and created the bigger chances and were ruthless on the counter, with the goals coming from Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez.

Here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest match…

Squad has been burned out from top to bottom

With Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku unavailable due to current injury problems, whilst the likes of Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic have been rushed back into the starting line-up, it is not a surprise that the team have struggled to get going following the monumental Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain. The side have been lacking the quality from the bench to help them effect and turn the game around, leading to back-to-back defeats.

On top of that, Solskjaer himself has not got the ideal options available for him to use in the squad as a whole and the blame should definitely be referred back to the board and Ed Woodward. When looking at the current team and the fact that only Diogo Dalot, Fred and Lee Grant came into the club in the previous summer transfer window, it can easily be stated that the new arrivals was simply not enough to allow Jose Mourinho or Solskjaer to guide the side to a successful season.

The problems in the final third have started once again

At this moment of time, the problems in the final third have returned to what it once was in the final months of Mourinho’s time at the club, where the front three fail to provide enough creativity and movement on and off the ball. There was one stage in the match last night at Molineux Stadium, where it had seemed like Martial and Rashford were nowhere to be seen in the opposition’s half.

For sure, if Lukaku was fit and in good condition to play, the side would have played more down the flanks and would have sent constant crosses into the box for the Belgian international to pounce on. However, with his much needed presence missing, the back-three/five of Wolves were able to isolate United’s attackers and left the midfielders with no choices but to play backwards or sideways.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got outdone by Nuno Espirito Santo  

Since his arrival as Manchester United’s interim coach from the middle of December, this has been Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game where he has tactically been dominated and outdone by the opposition. In his favour, Wolves have actually eased down in the league over the last couple of weeks and have quietly been preparing for this match through less training and more resting.

On the other hand, the signs of a goal coming were there in the early moments of the second half, with the hosts becoming more comfortable in possession and attacking with intent along whilst both Matt Doherty and Ruben Neves enjoying a lot of space and time on the ball. Had Solskjaer and Mike Phelan spotted this and looked to match up with Wolves’ setup, the game could have potentially been more balanced and the side would have had more control to the match.