Pablo Fornals: Lowdown on West Ham’s latest signing who is more than ready for English football

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Over the past few seasons, it’s been quite easy for a young individual to announce himself as a player with an immense career ahead of him and be regarded as the next big talent. However, the situation has quietly been different for Pablo Fornals, someone who was a regular starter in midfield and was a key player for La Liga side Villarreal. However, the club and player did not have a solid season as per their normal standards, as the lack of consistency and squad quality became concerning month by month.

Fornals only returned to Villarreal in the summer of 2017 after spending five beneficial seasons in Malaga’s first team as well as their reserve team, and was recently linked with a £24million move to Premier League’s West Ham United. With the deal now becoming official yesterday, it would mean that Villarreal would be making an estimate profit of around £15million and potentially any add-ons or bonuses, which is quite good for a player that was seriously looking for a move since the January transfer window.

Before West Ham smartly snapped him up, both Arsenal and Napoli were interested in the Spaniard a couple of week ago, but were no longer looking at the player and have moved onto the other midfield targets they have in mind. The Yellow Submarines have not seen many major departures so far this summer, but it has shockingly began with Pablo Fornals moving from sunny Spain to rainy England.

It’s time to look at everything you will want to know about the 23-year-old…

Villarreal background

Over the last 10 to 15 years, Villarreal have been recognised for the types of centre-backs and central-midfielders they have purchased for quite a bargain, before going on to developing and nurturing them into top quality players. The likes of Giuseppe Rossi, Joan Capdevila, Marcos Senna, Ruben Cani and currently Bruno Soriano have played for this beautiful and passionate club, individuals who have given their all on the pitch whilst becoming fan favourites during their good moments and bad moments.

The current Villarreal squad is still blessed with quite a number of individuals that are born and raised in Spain, including the experienced Santi Cazorla, captain Bruno Soriano, the calm and collected Vicente Iborra and Gerard Moreno, someone who has not had the best of seasons in front of goal but will always be a huge aerial threat, as long as the crossing is effective from the flanks.

Which world-class central-midfielder is he similar to…

It’s still early days for Fornals to be dubbed or regarded as the next Cesc Fabregas or Koke, however, his style of play is very similar to team-mate Santi Cazorla, who once upon a time was a crucial player for Arsenal and was seen as one of the most underrated players in England. With his constant knack for wanting the ball and his ability to dominate it whilst being seen as the focal point of the midfield, he is able to avoid the press with his dribbling skill as well as his intelligent movement.

On top of that, he is more than capable of producing a large number of perfectly-timed passed thanks to his range of passes and his sharp vision to even attempt, which is something that many central-midfielders don’t take the risk to complete. The style of play of both himself and Cazorla is something to admire, given that the latter flourished in the Premier League and the former will without a doubt, do the same as long as a system is in place and the team is built around him, and no one else.

Strengths

Complete midfielder. Not many players within La Liga, especially from outside of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid, can boast about playing in a number of tactical roles within midfield whilst dominating the match and the opposition. Due to this natural blessing, Fornals’ quality has always been undervalued, purely because of the other talented midfielders and attacking-minded players produced within Spain.

Being a player that does not rely on pace or physicality, the Castellon-born midfielder has proven himself to be dominant on both sides of the pitch. From completing the second most key passes (42) and fourth most successful dribbles (39) when compared to the rest of the squad, he has actually achieved more than expected as the side have recently not been known as a possession-based team. Thanks to his intelligence and positive thinking on the ball, he is able to work really well within tight areas and has the actual ability to get past one or two defenders or midfielders without even trying.

Weaknesses

Although it will be his range of passing as well as his rising quality to get the best out of the midfield that may be what the West Ham supporters will be looking forward to the most. However, Fornals’ has had a bit of a consistency to give away cheap fouls and also in a number of dangerous positions. Unfortunately for him, the Premier League referees will not be be too lenient and inconsistent like the ones in La Liga.

On the other hand, it is ideal and useful to have a player that is quite stocky, aggressive and is willing to go into the much needed tackles and tactical fouls. With a number of players that come to play in England from other European countries, they tend to lack the defensive duties or the mentality to help the team to retrieve possession, which will surely not be a problem for Pablo Fornals at all, as he always puts the team before him.

How would he fit into West Ham?

Fornals could potentially play alongside Mark Noble and just ahead of defensive-midfielder Declan Rice in 4-1-4-1 formation, which is a system that manager Manuel Pellegrini has used time and time again, that has allowed the Hammers to play with the ball confidently and also more productively.

Given that Jack Wilshere has become unreliable and is still battling his own injury issues whilst both Mark Noble and Robert Snodgrass are starting to age and decline, it makes sense Pellegrini’s side to continue to play their football in a 4-1-4-1 setup, providing more space and time for Fornals to pull the strings deep in midfield or to advance up the pitch in possession to create chances for his team-mates or for himself.

With a lot of things spicing up for West Ham, including the fact that they have been scouting and recruiting players effectively for the last couple of seasons. It wouldn’t be a total surprise to see them aiming for a Europa League spot finish for the upcoming campaign, despite the competition from the likes of Everton, Leicester and Wolves.

On the other hand, the budding transfer of Fornals and Celta Vigo’s Maxi Gomez could prove to be perfect signings in the long run, and only if the East London side go on to finish within the top seven, especially in what could potentially be a really competitive season. Now that the deal is official, the Spanish international will certainly be regarded as one of the best signings of the summer window and also for such a really low fee.

The rise of the UEFA Nations League

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As the finals of the UEFA Nations League took place on Sunday in the beautiful city of Porto, between the home country Portugal and Netherlands, majority of football supporters will look back at the contest and will wonder what the actual strengths and positives are of the competition.

To start off with, the lively challenge and crucial thrill has been instantly injected into when the international break arrives, rather than the usual pointless friendly matches that take place here and there. Because of these futile games, a large number of well-known players feel their hunger for success and concentration decreases during the 10 to 14 days they spend in another environment.

Now, looking back at the UEFA Nations League from a fans point of view, it can easily be stated that the tournament is closely watched and followed by nearly everyone as the manager as well as the players have began to take it serious.  The winners receive a trophy as the prize award and another chance to qualify for the 2020 European Championships should they fail to do so through the qualifiers.

Given that the chances of winning either the Euros or the World Cup are very little for the countries outside of the top ten teams, this short competition will allows the likes of Croatia, Denmark and Serbia to potentially be successful in the long run. Not only that, both the players and the managers from these respective countries would receive more recognition going into the major tournaments.

Thanks to this incredible format, the supporters of the beautiful sport of football had the chance to see Netherlands overcoming France and Germany, England dominating Spain and having revenge on Croatia as well as both Portugal and Switzerland magically making it through their respective groups. On that note, there shouldn’t really be any issues or queries that downfalls this entertaining system.

Digging more into it, the system has been organised by four leagues and where they are placed separately by their current world rankings, with the motivation and inspiration being to reach League A before heading onto the knockout stages of the competition. The winners of the league move up a level, on the other hand, those who finish at the bottom are relegated to the tier below.

When reviewing it from the UEFA’s prescriptive, they have turned the friendly matches into a more meaningful list of fixtures, which gives the governing body of European football a better reputation for what they stand out for. And financially, the Union of European Football Associations can make a huge amount from the contest compared to making nothing at all from the international friendlies.

Overall, with how straightforward and effective the Nations League has been, it would not be a surprise to see a similar setup for the international football countries that are based in Asia and South America. If it was to end up happening, all the parties would see it as a win-win outcome, from the people making the decisions off the pitch to the supporters watching it live or at home.

Eden Hazard is now La Liga’s gain and Premier League’s loss

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After Friday’s breaking news in England and Spain, it is now official that Eden Hazard has moved from Chelsea to Real Madrid for a reported figure of around £100-£120million. Following the constant reports summer after summer, the Belgian international finally completes his dream of playing for the club he supported as a youngster, which he has expressed in interviews time and time again.

Going a bit deep into the two parties, they have had their ups and downs throughout the term but will be looking to make huge amends over the summer. The Blues may have found themselves in a sticky situation, with the transfer ban coming into effect for the next two windows whilst manager Maurizio Sarri is expected to leave the club for Juventus. Meanwhile, with Real Madrid, they have already signed Eder Militao and Luka Jovic as well as continuing to target a few of the best players within Europe.

Focusing back onto Hazard, it always looked like a deal would be more of when rather than if it happens, which would really be seen as an insane shift in power as La Liga will arguably be bringing in someone that has been the best player in the Premier League for the last couple of years. With his individual brilliance, end product in the final third and his mentality to show up in the big games, he has unsurprisingly been ahead of the likes of Harry Kane, Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah and co.

Spending seven full seasons within English football, it is no secret that the 28-year-old joined the club as a quiet and shy boy, but is now leaving as a Chelsea legend, potentially a Premier League great and most importantly as a complete man. Achieving six major trophies in 352 appearances, including two league titles, he has dominantly completed 110 goals and 92 assists in all competitions.

For sure, the 2018/19 La Liga season seemed a bit one-sided and uncompetitive as Barcelona won the league by 11 full points. However, Los Blancos will have learnt their lesson from the lack of business they completed last summer, which led to an average season compared to their usual standards, as they finished in third-place and were embarrassingly eliminated from the Champions League in the round of 16.

With Cristiano Ronaldo leaving the capital of Spain for Italian giants Juventus last year, Ernesto Valverde’s system hindering both Barcelona and Lionel Messi, whilst Diego Simeone’s men are beginning to experience a crazy transition period on and off the pitch, the rising signs are clearly there, that neither of the sides are quite ready to dominate the Spanish league consistently for the next couple of years or so.

The quality in La Liga may no longer be the same as it used to be, on the other hand, all three of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid will surely be looking into taken the title challenge up a notch and aim to regain European dominance again. Fortunately, the Eden Hazard factor will come into play for Zinedine Zidane’s side, as they were somehow lacking the cutting edge in the opposition’s half and could not beat the mid-table teams, a really concerning issue that has now been resolved with ease.

Looking back at the Premier League, they have lost the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho over the last five to ten years, due to the pulling power that both Barcelona and Real Madrid have been boasting about for such a long time. And even after that, English football has still remained popular and truly thrilling, but the departure of Hazard will eventually lead Chelsea to fall down the pecking order and maybe a shit in power within London.

It is more than fair to say that Liverpool and Manchester City are ahead of the rest of the top sides in the league, two well-known teams that have incredibly gone head-to-head with one another for the league title in the season that just went passed. On that note, the last thing either Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United or Tottenham Hotspur want, is to lose their key players and fail to reach their ambitions of being successful.

The flaws and weaknesses that Real Madrid constantly showed this term, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it being harshly passed onto Chelsea football club, who will now be missing the much needed creativity and intelligence in the final third of the pitch. Not only that but if Maurizio Sarri leaves soon, the Blues may end up having a catastrophic season and could finish outside of the Champions League/Europa League spots.

Overall, there are no doubts at all that Eden Hazard will take his pure brilliance and sheer class from the Premier League to the La Liga, an incredible league that is focused on proactive and technical football rather than relying on the players’ physicality and intention to solely counter during transition. At the end of the day, the Belgian winger has deserved this huge move and it should have happened straight after the 2018 World Cup. Nevertheless, he has remained professional and stayed patient.

Which players are leaving Manchester United as a free agent?

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Without a doubt, Manchester United will be one of the main clubs that will be going all out within the summer transfer window, when compared to the other sides in the Premier League and in the whole of Europe. Following the embarrassing season they have experienced through both Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, they will now look to make a huge statement off the pitch.

However, the full attention happens to be just on the hopeful incomings, rather than the players that may leave on a free transfer and those individuals whose services are no longer needed. With a lot of deadwood still remaining at the club along with the team’s squad depth being really thin, a lot of planning and top recruitment is badly required in order to have a successful summer window.

Here are the three United players that will potentially be leaving on a free transfer…

Antonio Valencia

After spending ten long years at Old Trafford, Antonio Valencia will be leaving the club at the end of June with the full appreciation of the Manchester United supporters. From playing consistently as a winger to being utilised as a makeshift right-back over the last couple of years, the Ecuadorian never failed to wear his heart and passion on his sleeves despite being regarded as a very limited player.

Majority of people will be content with the displays he has produced but some will be unsatisfied with how he failed to reach his true potential as a dominant and effective winger. The 33-year-old went on to make just fewer than 350 appearances in all competition, whilst winning the league on two occasions, the EFL Cup on two occasions, the FA Cup as well as the Europa League in 2017.

Juan Mata

Whether he stays or leaves, Juan Mata’s time at both Manchester United and Chelsea will be seen as quite underrated as a whole, purely because of how he played out of his natural position and how it prevented him from being at the heart of each attack. Even during his time out wide on the flanks, he was still able to create chances for the team whilst also getting the best out of his team-mates.

On the other hand, the attacking midfielder could make a return to Spain and do quite the job for the likes of Sevilla, Valencia or even Atletico Madrid, who are always looking to improve in the league and in Europe. At the end of the day, many will be unsatisfied with how Juan Mata went through four United managers, who failed to play him in his best role, which is behind the forward.

Ander Herrera

The one player that will be leaving on a free transfer that has shocked the Premier League experts and most importantly the United fanbase is no one other than Ander Herrera. A complete midfielder who has always been effective and consistent on the pitch, and is also seen as quite the type of vocal leader when necessary, which is something that the current squad is lacking from top to bottom.

Overall, some of the folks will not be too angry with his departure as he apparently wanted £200,000 a week, which does seem extortionate for someone who does not play regular football. However, when the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba are on a lot of money whilst not proving to be consistent or reliable enough, you could see why Herrera cheekily demanded a massive pay rise.

Four big name players that are expected to leave their respective clubs this summer

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That exciting time has come once again, where the summer transfer window will be filled with opinionated rumours and ridiculous speculations, before the deals begin to become finalised and publicly official. So far, the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have got down to business quickly within the transfer market, as they will potentially look to dominate their respective league for many years to come whilst also strongly challenge for the Champions League next season.

Meanwhile, it could be another enormous summer where the big name players will be making the huge moves left, right and centre. And if the reports that are constantly being raised within the English media and the European news outlets happen to be true, then we can expect a number of the best clubs inside of Europe to lose one or two of their key players or be forced to sell them.

With no further ado, here are the four big name players that will be on the move this summer…

David De Gea

The perfect player to start off with is none other than Manchester United’s David De Gea, someone who is seen as the best goalkeeper in the Premier League as well as one of the best in Europe. Since the moment his transfer to Real Madrid unfortunately broke down due to a faulty fax machine in August 2015, he hasn’t been the same despite being the team’s best player in recent years, as he has silently questioned the direction the club is heading and the lack of progress made by them on and the pitch.

On top of that, with Ander Herrera leaving on a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain and Juan Mata not receiving a contract extension by the board, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the former Atletico Madrid shot-stopper moving away after spending eight long years at Old Trafford. If there is much meaning to this and he does end up joining his fellow countrymen in the coming weeks, it will leave United with further problems to resolve, as they are currently in a transition period and will be losing their main man.

Gareth Bale

Another club that will be going through a transition period of sorts will be Real Madrid, who have surprisingly been quiet in the transfer window over the last couple of years and are now in a position to bring in young blood and fresh energy, as the likes of Luka Modric, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos are starting to age. But the main focus just happens to be on winger Gareth Bale, who doesn’t get along with coach Zinedine Zidane and will be looking to move away from the Spanish giants as soon as possible.

The ideal outcome for the player would be to return to the Premier League, a league he has already proved himself in rather than going into a new league and a new culture where it will most likely take him a number of months to adapt and settle into that environment. With Real Madrid being linked with the likes of Eden Hazard, Mohamed Salah and Neymar, offloading the Welsh international instantly and at a discounted figure would make total sense, especially to balance the books on a financial note.

Mauro Icardi

Mauro Icardi has experienced a lot of ups and downs at Inter Milan, especially throughout the last five to six months, where he has had contract issues with the board, huge fallout with the manager Luciano Spalletti and then it leading to him being one of the main reasons to why the dressing room was filled with tension and diversity. Though, focusing on his ability on the pitch, there are no doubts that he simply knows where the back of the net is as he is the type of striker to score 30 goals a season.

The future of Icardi doesn’t happen to be quite crystal clear at this moment of time, and it will purely be dependent on if Spalletti is replaced by Antonio Conte, a well-known coach who does not allow anyone to get away with their antics or unprofessional behaviour. And if that is the case, the 26-year-old may as well start to look for a new club straightaway, which might not be a problem at all, as the likes of Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus and Manchester United could do with his goal-scoring prowess.

Matthijs De Ligt

After winning the Eredivisie title for the 34th time and reaching the Champions League Semi-Finals, Ajax have once again, caught the attention of majority of the football supporters around the world. However, when that tends to happen, they end up losing a number of key players which is something that they are starting to experience, as Frenkie de Jong has joined FC Barcelona whilst individuals such as Hakim Ziyech, Matthijs de Ligt and Donny van de Beek are now wanted by literally everyone.

For the time being, it’s time to put the full focus on De Ligt, a 19-year-old centre-back that is already seen as a phenomenal leader and has time and time again, showed his quality on and off the ball. From showing his physical strength to his incredible intelligence to be in the right place at the right time, he is seen as the full package of a defender, which cannot be said about many players that play within his department. If he is to leave during the summer window, it would be for around £65million-£85million.

Three perfect options for Man Utd to replace the outgoing Ander Herrera with

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After Saturday’s confirmation by both the club and the player himself, it is now official that Ander Herrera will be leaving Manchester United once his current contract expires at the end of June.

Throughout his five years at Old Trafford, he has gone on to win the EFL Cup, FA Cup and the Europa League whilst managing to make just fewer than 200 appearances in all competition. On top of that, it can be stated that he is one of the popular figures within the club’s fanbase, regarded as an individual that gets what it means to play for the team and how he gives everything on the pitch.

Meanwhile, it leaves United with more serious work to do with their summer rebuilding job, as they were already lacking the much needed quality and depth in midfield. With Marouane Fellaini gone in January and Herrera about to leave in a couple of weeks or so, the manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to keep a good look in the transfer market for a defensive-midfielder and a box to box player.

With no further ado, here are the three main candidates to replace the Spanish international…

Abdoulaye Doucoure – Watford                                   

The United board and Ed Woodward have constantly chosen for the bigger name players and individuals past their prime years. However, when finding the perfect and most intelligent of midfielders it can be shrewd to review and analyse within the Premier League itself, something that the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have done really well over the last couple of years.

On that note, Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucoure would potentially be the ideal individual to have in United’s midfield, someone who has the capability to complete the required interceptions and tackles as well as progress with the ball through his burst of pace and dribbling ability. It’s no surprise that he has been linked with clubs such as Chelsea, Everton and Paris Saint-Germain.

Still only 26-years-old, the central midfielder has shown off his attributes and skills on both sides of the pitch, which is something that the Red Devils are missing from the current set of midfielders. From being in the right place at the right time to understanding when to press forward and when to sit deep, Dourcoure is the type of player that United could do with for the next couple of years.

Igor Zubeldia – Real Sociedad

If United were to complete some shrewd business, then La Liga would be the place to look for Ander Herrera’s replacement, a league that is filled with players that are technically great and are not afraid of going into challenges and tackles with full commitment. Looking at the last couple of seasons, it’s quite a surprise that the club have not gone onto to buy many players from Spain.

On the other hand, should United dig deep into the Spanish League to find a player, they should look no further than Igor Zubeldia, who has had a great campaign in his second full season in top-flight football. Playing at the heart of Real Sociedad’s midfield, either as a defensive-midfielder or central-midfielder, he is able to provide the protection to the backline whilst recycle the ball effectively.

For sure, the questions will be raised by the Premier League experts and Manchester United supporters on who the player is, but no one knew who Ander Herrera was at the start and he turned out to be one of the side’s most crucial individuals over the four to five years. And if the €50million release clause happens to be true, Igor Zubeldia could go onto be one of the signings of the summer.

Youri Tielemans – AS Monaco

With his loan deal at Leicester City now coming to an end, it can fairly be stated that Youri Tielemans enjoyed his time in England and the Premier League even if it was for only five months. Notching three goals and four assists in only 11 league appearances, he has instantly showed his intelligence and ability to adapt in a new league, something that a number of summer signings have failed to do.

The Belgian international took a number of people by surprise, as he was predicted to not feature on a weekly basis whilst expected to start very low in the pecking order within the midfield department. However, it did not take him long to win over the Premier League pundits and the Leicester City supporters, as his final third contributions and composure in midfield has been pleasing to watch.

Overall, it is unlikely that he will return to France and play for AS Monaco on a regular basis, who are currently near the relegation zone in Ligue 1 and are just about fighting for survival. No matter how it ends for Leonardo Jardim’s men, a number of the key players will want to leave the club in the summer, especially Youri Tielemans, given that he is already a wanted man in all the top leagues.

Huddersfield 1-1 Man Utd: Time for the Red Devils to kiss this horrendous season goodbye

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had the final chance to go into the top four, with the second to last league fixture being against Huddersfield, a side that have been in the relegation zone for most of the campaign and were confirmed to go down to the Championship since the end of March.

The visitors unsurprisingly started the game off well, making good movement on and off the ball whilst attacking with serious intent, which allowed them to take the lead, as Scott McTominay’s attempt fortunately, went through goalkeeper Jonas Lossl in the eight minute of the match. Meanwhile, the hosts were aiming to prevent conceding anymore goals but somehow ended up finishing the first half as the better team.

After the half-time break, Huddersfield started off well again and were cutting through United’s midfield and defence with pure ease. The side’s equaliser actually came from a corner set-piece for the opposition; with Lossl’s long and instant goal kick being poorly misjudged by left-back Luke Shaw, before winger Isaac Mbenza pounced onto the ball and calmly slotted it past David De Gea.

The last 30 minutes of the game was filled with excitement and tension for both sides, as the hosts were looking to bow out of the Premier League in their final fixture at home on a high note, whilst the away side were chasing for the needed three points to get out of sixth-place and a step close to Champions League football. In the end, the result led to many disappointments for both teams, as they had the chances to get the victory.

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

Lack of ability to be dominant and ruthless

United were all over Huddersfield for more or less the whole game, in terms of the 65% possession, 23 shots attempted and seven shots on target, and still somehow ended the match with only one goal scored. Just after McTominay’s early goal, two good chances fell to the feet of both Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford, who were unable to make them count or take on the shot convincingly.

Although the defensive record and the side’s backline is seen as the main weak link, the lack of combination in the final third as well as big chances created has been one of the main problems this season. United have constantly failed to dominate possession of the ball or forced the opponent to make mistakes high up the pitch, which have prevented the team to attack and be more effective when required.

Europa League football is what they all deserve in the end

The last couple of months has been all about whether they will finish in the top four or not, but in the end, Europa League may truly be a blessing in disguise, where it will allow the board, the players and Ed Woodward to understand the mediocre and lethargic football has led to this outcome. If this isn’t a wake up to the people in charge, then the Old Trafford faithful are unsure of what actually is.

Manchester United were previously in the competition during the 2016-17 campaign, where they went on to win the trophy under Jose Mourinho as they went on to beat Ajax in the finals. Since then, majority of the people who run and support the club would have thought and predicted this would be the turning point to revive the sleeping giants, but fast forward two years, that hasn’t been the case as they look a number of years away from competing seriously in the Premier League and the Champions League.

Most of the squad are not fit enough to play for Manchester United

You would have to go back to just before the middle of April to remember the last time United won a match in the league, and even then, it was an unconvincing victory against West Ham, who were the better side and were unlucky to lose to a very late penalty. Since then, the team have embarrassingly lost to Everton and Manchester City whilst drawing to both Chelsea and Huddersfield, when the results mattered the most.

Over that period of football, the desperation, hunger and motivation has not been there for a team that feels they should be playing in the Champions League next season. Despite the big talk from the players and motivational interviews by the manager, the squad is simply not good enough and a rebuilding job is desperately needed, or the club will fall even more behind than they currently are.

Fred is starting to adapt well at Man Utd, and will only get better

Fred

Manchester United’s lack of midfield depth and quality is quite concerning compared to the top teams in the Premier League, especially when you’re a meant to be either challenging for the league title or finishing in the top four, despite the situation they have found themselves in at the moment.

However, central midfielder Fred, who they spent over £50million on to bring to Old Trafford last summer window from Shakhtar Donetsk, has started to show bright moments here and there as he has began to gain a good understanding with the likes of Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Victor Lindelof.

Over the last couple of months, he has shown his range of passing to shift the ball out at a quick pace to making the interceptions and tackle in the middle of the pitch when required. On top of that, he has shown some good awareness of when to drop deep to build-up the play from the back to progressing possession into the final third, something that is not done often by the midfielders.

For sure, many of the Premier League experts and pundits will see the Brazilian international as one of the flops of the season, purely because he couldn’t get into the team on a regular basis and when he did, he was unable to stamp his mark on the game or dominate the midfield and the opposition.

Having made 17 league appearances, with 13 of them being from the start of the match, Fred will have understood his debut season may not have gone down as he had predicted and will be one of the players hoping that the club have a massive overhaul in the summer. If this is to happen, a solid backline and a natural winger may allow him to play with more freedom and protection around him.

To be fair to Fred, a number of midfielders that have arrived at the club over the last couple of years or so have struggled to get going within the side’s style of play. Morgan Schneiderlin is often seen as the perfect example, someone who was once seen as one of the best holding midfielders at Southampton, but had failed to replicate the demanding performances in a Manchester United kit.

Meanwhile, both Bastian Schweinsteiger and Nemanja Matic have been seen as the ideal individuals that could fill the void that was left by Michael Carrick, a player that was a regular starter for the club for many years as he kept the side ticking through his intelligence as well as his composure on and off the ball. This instantly sums up the ongoing matter at the club, where they have found it really difficult to replace the players who have been loyal servants and very vocal season by season.

The questions have been raised about the future of Fred, purely because no one in the dressing room is totally safe following another unconvincing and horrendous season in all competition. On the other hand, the pre-season tour as well as the next campaign will be the defining moment for the Brazilian international and his time at Old Trafford, whether he goes on to prove the manager and his critics wrong, or he ends up having an average season and falls down the pecking order.

Sleeping giant Man Utd have to plan for a make or break summer window

Woodward

After going out of the Champions League the other night to Barcelona whilst currently sitting outside of the Premier League top four, the questions are being raised on which way Manchester United Football Club are heading. As they look to finish another season without any trophies, it may lead the Glazers and Ed Woodward to dive into the summer window with around £200-£250million to spend.

For sure, since the last time they had won the league title, which was under Sir Alex Ferguson during the 2012-13 campaign, the club have incredibly spent just over £800million on 24 new players over the last six years. The evidence and proof is here, that the capability of splashing the cash is simply there, but the lack of planning and recruiting shows why no actual success has followed from it.

United’s Champions League exit to a dominant and ruthless Barcelona sums up that the team needs badly refreshing. The rebuilding job was expected to be completed by now, with both Jose Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal spending a lot of money in their first season at the club, but have failed to take the team back to the top of the league and have not turned Old Trafford into a fortress once again.

From the defensive problems, midfield lack of quality and depth to the inconsistent and attack, the team has its holes that will need covering before they can start to challenge in each competition. The likes of Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones should no longer be seen as regular starters, three individuals who are seen as loyal servants but are holding the side back to quite an extent.

Meanwhile, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit a poor run of games since being appointed as the permanent manager, where he has suffered defeat to teams such as Arsenal, Everton and Wolves whilst unconvincingly beating both Watford and West Ham in recent weeks. In all honesty, Solskjaer inherited a team that is mixed with deadwood players and individuals with potential, rather than a complete squad that is filled with the needed proven stars and are really hungry to be successful.

With the local reports advising of a possible director of football arriving, whether it is either Edwin Van der Sar or Mike Phelan, the hierarchy need to forget about saving costs and appoint an individual that has experience and practice within this demanding role. Once this matter is sorted out, the club can organise a list of players to target before going guns blazing in the transfer market.

On the other hand, as majority of the Old Trafford faithful will fear, the group of transfer targets as well as which players should be bought and sold may not be crystal clear until the end of the season, when it is finalised if Manchester United finish in the top four or not. A concerning factor that leaves them behind the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Manchester City, the best teams within Europe who have the winning mentality to remain ahead of the rest in and out of the season.

Overall, the only way the Red Devils can bounce back from this decline and prevent themselves from experiencing what AC Milan, Inter Milan and Liverpool have experienced over the last five to seven years, is by making a statement in the summer and by meaning total business. With both Bayern Munich and Real Madrid expected to go all out in the 2019 summer transfer window, things may become real interesting if Manchester United do the same and target similar players as one another.

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.