Wolves v Man Utd; Three key factors to keep an eye out for on the Red Devils

Ole Gunnnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United will be travelling down to the Molineux Stadium on Monday to take on Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves, a brutal team that managed to pick up a lot important results against the top-six sides last season and are now in the Europa League play-offs.

Although it is only the second gameweek of the Premier League, both sides will be looking to pick up the early three points in the campaign to ensure they move a step forward to reach their aims and objectives. The hosts will have one eye on the match and the other on the upcoming fixture against Torino in the Europa League play-offs, whilst the visitors will have the full focus on this difficult tie.

Now, let’s focus on the Red Devils ahead of their key crucial match on Monday night…

Lack of control within midfield

In their first league game, Manchester United had a lot of tough times in controlling the game within the middle of the pitch and were not able to dominate and overcome Chelsea’s midfield trio. For sure, the 4-0 result in the end is what counts, but on another day, had the opposition had the quality in defence and attack, the final outcome would have been different to what actually happened.

Despite the departure of both Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini, the board and Ed Woodward have failed to bring in the required replacements, leaving Solskjaer with very limited options within the midfield department. Andreas Pereira, Fred and Scott McTominay don’t have the intelligence and quality to start on a regular basis, and Nemanja Matic just happens to be on his last legs.

Not only that, Paul Pogba is the main man to guide the side week in and out, but his lapse in concentration and tendency to take the extra touch or second on the ball does not help the team’s cause. If the team are able to take more control and manage the game from the midfield, they will go on to improve defensively, dominate possession effectively and eventually create more chances.

Contributions from the full-backs

A lot of the talk has recently been about the arrival of summer signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and current left-back, Luke Shaw, two individuals who are young, full of energy and are expected to be the side’s main full-backs for the next five years or so. With modern football being more advanced and the duties of a full-back being increased, the pair will have to work on their attacking ability.

With the backline being improved massively throughout the summer, the sole focus will be on how consistently they will be able to play out from the back and how often they will play a key role in the final third of the pitch. On that note, both Shaw and Wan-Bissaka will have take part in a lot of attacking drills in training, as their crossing and technical ability will be required during the season.

Having a quick look at the rival teams in Liverpool and Manchester City, they both respectively have the likes of Andrew Robertston, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker, crucial individuals who can run up and down the pitch for the whole game and be the difference maker when needed. United will definitely be in need of this as their style of play can become limited and really rigid, which forces them to play the ball more directly and without a lack of direction.

Marcus Rashford’s movement and positioning

Given the ruthless departure of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to receive the same outcome very soon, there will be a lot of weight on United’s attackers and the midfielders to come up with the much needed goals. With a lot of pressure being on the likes of Anthony Martial, Daniel James and Paul Pogba for goals and assists, Marcus Rashford has to be the man to personally step up.

Being a local lad that has come through the youth ranks and someone that is widely regarded as a fan favourite, it would be more than ideal for the youngster to lead by example and be seen as the player that can score 25 goals a season. As he is now on free-kick and penalty duties, it shouldn’t be a huge problem for him to reach the required figures and numbers as a first-choice centre-forward.

It is no secret that Rashford isn’t one of the most clinical or ruthless strikers in the league, but if he begins to do the basics right and has the hunger to be in the right place at the right time, then there shouldn’t be no doubts at all in him delivering the goods. And if he goes on to do that and helps the team to be successful in the long run, his name will definitely be up there with the other greats that played for Manchester United Football Club.

Three U-23 players to keep an eye on throughout the Premier League season

As gameweek one has come to an end, a large number of Premier League supporters will have already predicted which teams will have a successful season and which specific individuals will go on to being the game changers compared to the rest of the players in the top flight of English football.

Meanwhile, a small group of young talents are aiming to have a bright season at a personal level and are looking to make a name for themselves. A lot of these youngsters will be looking up to the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, James Maddison and Matteo Guendouzi, players who had their breakout moment over the last 12 months and are now seen as a hot property by their club and manager.

With no further ado, it’s time to look at the three U-23 players to keep an eye on this campaign.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

Although he has had a decent amount of first-team experience under Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri, Callum Hudson-Odoi will be hoping that the managerial arrival of Frank Lampard will allow him to play on a regular basis. Also, the fact that Eden Hazard left a month ago and the club are not able to bring in any players for another transfer window, it may grant him a couple of chances to prove himself.

Currently on the sidelines after rupturing his Achilles’ tendon at the end of last season, the 19-year-old is expected to return to full training over the next couple of weeks before he begins to feature on the pitch once again. Once he gets going and is back on the pitch, there is no doubt at all that he goes straight into the Chelsea team, as they are currently lack pure quality in the final third of the pitch.

With the side missing a player that can take the game by the scruff of the neck or create something out of nothing, the return of Hudson-Odoi would help the team’s creativity and movement on and off the ball massively whilst the likes of Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham will benefit from his presence. For the sure, the departure of Hazard may hurt the Blues mentally in the long run, but they have a player in Hudson-Odoi that can confidently open up a defensive side and come up with the vital contributions. 

Max Aarons

Reviewing Norwich City’s last year in the Championship, they could have easily fallen down into the play-off area rather than winning the league, if it wasn’t for the crucial shift that Max Aarons had completed on both sides of the pitch. From being a speedy outlet on the flanks as a full-back to completing the required defensive duties, the youngster has it all to be a top player in his specific position.

If he goes on to replicating the same types of performances in the top tier of English football, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur gain interest in the player once again. However, the standards between both leagues are massively high, as Aarons’ discipline and positional awareness will have to be top notch in what could be his breakout year of his professional career.

Given that the attacking-minded players in Emiliano Buendia and Todd Cantwell are expected to be constantly marked by the opposition, Norwich have a full-back to rely on to make those striding runs down the wings and to put in the inch-perfect crosses into someone like Teemu Pukki. Also, a consistent campaign for the rising talent could see him become one of the best players in his department within the league.

Sean Longstaff

Newcastle United are going through a serious transition period, as they attempt to put the Rafa Benitez era behind themselves as well as produce new memories under manager Steve Bruce. Though, one of the positives that the Toons will have become aware of throughout this year, has been the incredible rise of central-midfielder Sean Longstaff, someone who spent a crucial loan at League one side Blackpool during the 2017-18 season and is now being a regular starter in top flight football.

At the age of 21, the youngster is living the dream that all young English football supporters have of playing in the Premier League and for their local club. And not only that, he received a new four-year deal back in November 2018, and is already expected to receive another huge increase over the next couple of weeks, as Manchester United were regularly interested in the Newcastle-born midfielder in recent months.

If Longstaff can go on to reaching his potential and the expectation of the Newcastle supporters, then the team will surely have stabilised midfield that allows them to push for success in the domestic competition and also aim for a higher finish in the league. If and once that eventually happens, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the club requesting for £50million and over for the player, purely to ward off any interest from other clubs.

Man Utd 4-0 Chelsea: The Red Devils kick off the season in winning ways

The main focus of gameweek one in the Premier League was bound to be on Manchester United versus Chelsea, especially when the other top teams in the league had won their respective games. Given that the final positions in the table always come down to the head-to-head between the top-six sides, it was important for Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to get going on a high note and make a statement.

Overall, the match was completed in a typical fashion that the supporters of Old Trafford have been used to in recent years, where they start off very slow before ending the match with the three important points. Chelsea got off on the right foot and went close with Tammy Abraham hitting the post and Emerson smashing the crossbar, however, it was Marcus Rashford’s penalty in the 18th minute that opened up the game and allowed everyone to witness a more end-to-end match.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors in the second half, as the individual mistakes and the poor man-marking allowed the hosts to score two quick goals between the 65th and the 67th minute through Anthony Martial and Rashford once again. Not only that, Lampard’s options from the bench were not great to create a comeback, whilst Solskjaer was able to give both Daniel James and Mason Greenwood the game time they were in need of, with the former bagging his first ever goal for the club.

Here are the three factors we learnt from United’s first league game this season…

Clinical showing despite nervy periods

There are no doubts at all, that Chelsea were the better side in the first half, from controlling possession of the ball to creating chances patiently, but only the end product was missing. Had they still had the final third quality of Eden Hazard in the team, they would have put the game to bed by the half-time break and the Red Devils would have found it very difficult to turn it around. However, United were fortunate and took the lead from the penalty spot, and from there, they were constantly aiming to pounce on the counter.

After the break, Solskjaer’s men took things up a notch or two whilst Lampard’s boys were unable to be more productive and effective in United’s penalty box. Once the decisive second goal came through for the side from Anthony Martial, it was more or less over, with Chelsea trying to make the most out of any possession they had, whilst United were happy to sit deep and continue to counter when required. In the end, the hosts showed their patience in both phases and were able to adjust to some tactical tweaks, whilst the visitors were unlucky and fell apart as the goals were conceded.

Exciting debuts for the new summer arrivals

When deciding who would start in the huge fixture against Chelsea, Solskjaer was bound to use the new boys in Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, two players who instantly made an impact in the backline and were able to ease the pressure off the team on many occasions. If neither of them were on the pitch yesterday, the Blues would have easily scored one or two goals in the first half, or even more.

With how the two defensive additions recently performed, individuals such as Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones aren’t expected to make a return into the starting line-up anytime soon. Maguire’s appearance at the heart of defence was huge for the side, as he was able to guide the team forward on the ball and was regarded as a rising leader when needed. Meanwhile, Wan-Bissaka played a crucial role of his own, stopping Chelsea to break on the counter time and time again, and helping the team to recycle and utilise possession on both sides of the pitch.

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are on the rise

At this moment of time, it can easily be stated that both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford will be played on a regular basis and also along with each other, something that couldn’t be done effectively the last two seasons due to the presence of Romelu Lukaku. Though, with the Belgian forward now at Inter Milan, the duo have a lot of expectations and high standards on them, with both players potentially in need of scoring around 40-45 goals in order for the team to finish within the top four.

With the club failing to bring in a replacement for Lukaku on deadlind day, a lot of the pressure has now been passed onto Martial and Rashford, as well as the other attacking-minded players in the squad. As long as the pair keep up with how they performed yesterday, in terms of the dribbling ability, movement on and off the ball along with an improvement of their work rate, United should be just fine in the long run.

Manchester United 2019-20 season preview

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer going into his first full season as the manager of Manchester United, the pressure is on the 45-year-old Norwegian international to show he can take the club forward and that he is able to bring the good old days back to Old Trafford once again. Although it is easier said than done, the English media are not expecting the side to get back to winning ways anytime soon.

The previous season resulted in a really poor campaign, especially whilst witnessing the rivals in Liverpool and Manchester City going on to be successful in the Champions League and Premier League. Due to this unfortunate outcome, it has forced United to be highly active in the transfer window, whilst the board are hoping for a huge turnaround in which way the club is heading.

The new additions

Unlike the previous summer transfer window, the signings completed by Manchester United and Solskjaer have been more down to the weak areas of the system and which departments needed serious strengthening, as the lack of quality and depth has been a massive concern in recent years.

The Red Devils have so far brought – Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James and Harry Maguire. With only a couple of days remaining until the transfer window comes to an end, Solskjaer will be hoping that the Ed Woodward will be able to deliver one or two more players for him. That player(s) is potentially looking likely to be either or both of Paulo Dybala and Bruno Fernandes, who have actually been linked with a move to the Red Devils throughout the summer, thanks to the English and Italian noisy press.

It’s time to start off with Wan-Bissaka, who is already regarded as one of the best right-backs in the Premier League and has quite the career ahead of him. Remembering that he is only 21-years-old and has evolved to quite a level over the last 12 months at Crystal Palace, there should not be any doubts all that he goes onto have a successful time at United, given his striking potential and actual quality.

However, the arrival of James will be regarded as the most exciting one out of the three, as his blistering pace down the flanks and his movement on and off the ball is something that United badly need on the wings. With both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford now beginning to play more through the middle, the side look to have a natural winger that can keep the team ticking and moving time and time again.

Finally, Harry Maguire’s £85million move from Leicester City to Old Trafford has recently been completed, allowing United to have a quality centre-back that can consistently defend, is able to play out from the back and is not injury prone. With the likes of Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones constantly being injured, Solskjaer now has a reliable individual that can pair up with Chris Smalling or Victor Lindelof on a weekly basis.

Key player

Following the departures of both Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini over the last eight months, United are badly in need of a competent and composed midfielder that could get them through the tough fixtures week by week. Although they aren’t expected to sign a defensive or central midfielder before the window is over, they may have a unique one in Scott McTominay, someone who has shown his consistency and pure hard work when playing in a number of tactical midfield roles.

Over the last 10 to 12 months, the Scottish international has proven that he can be a monumental leader in the middle of the pitch whilst also be seen as a player that can come into the team whenever required. The only serious downfall for the player is that he isn’t highly talented when compared to the other midfielders in the team and in the league, and his positioning on both sides could be analysed as a rising weakness.

Who should be sold?

At this moment of time, it looks like only Romelu Lukaku is expected to leave the club for Juventus, which is now dependent on if Paulo Dybala is prepared to leave the Italian champions or not. Other than that, Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo are linked by the English media to leave the Premier Leaguse side, however, it does seem very late in the transfer window for them to be offloaded and replaced at the same time.

Manchester United’s strongest XI

With the current squad members, here is Manchester United’s strongest XI for the new season –

De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw; McTominay, Pogba; Martial, Sanchez, James; Rashford. (4-2-3-1 formation)

League prediction

Manchester United Football Club should be aiming for the league title season by season, however, they are still lacking the correct management off the pitch and the squad depth to keep up with the ambition and the expectations that the supporters have. On the other hand, if things do turn out to go from bad to worse throughout the campaign like it has in recent seasons, it would not be a total surprise to see the board and Ed Woodward sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer by around February/March time, the same corrupted individuals who didn’t financially back the manager up in the first place.

Premier League – 4th place

Will Man Utd just about snap up a centre-back this summer?

Manchester United have had an impressive pre-season at a personal level, beating the likes of Perth Glory, Leeds United, Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur whilst playing good possession-based football with a high pressing style. Majority of the Old Trafford faithful will be hoping that this continues into the new campaign, as the previous season was as awful one to simply forget.

Not only that, the two signings in Aaron-Wan Bissaka and Daniel James has received the required game time and the calm consultation from the rest of the squad, in order for their respective careers to get going. Since the duo have arrived, the club now have a right-back that is one of the best in the league and a natural winger that is really fast, both footed and is able to play on either of the flanks.

However, focusing on if United are going to complete anymore transfers or not, they still desperately in need of two to three additions before the season eventually begins. The main position just happens to be the centre-back area, where they are clearly lacking a vocal leader and someone to consistently pair up with Victor Lindelof, who is currently regarded as the side’s best defender.

With Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones constantly being injury prone and unavailable for when the side need them the most, the options that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has are limited straightaway. Meanwhile, Axel Tuanzebe has quite the potential, but it is uncertain if he plays regularly or goes out on loan again, whilst Chris Smalling has been fairly good but has failed to reach the prospects he showed during his early days as a Fulham player and in his first season at United.

Although the club have recently been linked with the likes of Harry Maguire, Kalidou Koulibaly and Toby Alderweireld, there has not been enough closure from the English papers or the club’s media press to show they intend on making a third signing. There is a huge difference in the final outcome of the season if it is to happen or not, from finishing in the Europa League spots again to a top four finish and potential silverware.

After conceding over 50 league goals and keeping only a few clean sheets last season, the Red Devil supporters were seriously hoping that the people in charge and Ed Woodward himself would have seen the defence as the side’s main weakness. Given that Liverpool have Virgil van Dijk and Manchester City have Aymeric Laporte, two of the best centre-backs within England and Europe, United are yet to have someone of that calibre to lead them to a title challenge and make them defensively sound.

Had the hierarchy provided Jose Mourinho with a centre back last summer as per his request, a lot of things would have been different by now, with the club’s chances of finishing in the top four being increased instantly and also their odds in the domestic cups. Furthermore, the club’s planning for the transfer window has been below-par and absolutely atrocious, spending just under £150million and bringing in only five new additions together this summer and last summer, leaving many holes to still fill.

Overall, Manchester United will honestly not be competing with both Liverpool and Manchester City in the league anytime soon, especially when you see the difference in quality that both rival clubs have on and off the pitch. Though, if the club were to somehow bring in a centre-back within the next ten days, it would allow them to bring pure stability and protection to a dreadful defence whilst help them to a good term.

The three short-term replacements for the out-of-favour Romelu Lukaku

With only a couple of weeks left until the new Premier League season starts along with the summer transfer window comes to an end, majority of the English clubs will desperately be looking to finalise the remaining deals they have outstanding whilst looking to offload a few players out of the team.

Focusing on Manchester United, there are a lot of things ongoing, from ensuring David De Gea signs a new six-year deal over the next couple of weeks to preventing both Juventus and Real Madrid from making any convincing offers for Paul Pogba. And on top of that, Romelu Lukaku has all of a sudden become the key hot topic, someone who doesn’t fit into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans and is now wanted by Inter Milan.

If he was to leave before the window closes, it would leave United with Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood as the options that could cover the centre-forward role. That alone would simply not be enough to guide the team to a top-four finish, as they would potentially need around 35 to 45 league goals from the four players that have been mentioned.

With no further ado, here are the three main individuals that could replace Romelu Lukaku…

Alexis Sanchez revival

If we’re being brutally honest, we could actually assume that majority of the Old Trafford faithful at times forget that Alexis Sanchez is still a Manchester United player. Unfortunately, this really sums up his rapid decline since moving from Arsenal to the Red Devils, as his injury issues have prevented him from being available on a regular basis and it has stopped him from proving his arrogant critics wrong.

However, in the minimal games he has played for the club, he has shown some bright moments when utilised in a more central role rather than playing in his usual position out on the flanks. Having lost his burst of pace and his sharpness as a winger, it would make more than sense for him to play as a false nine in the long run, especially given that his movement and linkup play is still consistent and reliable from time to time.

Mario Mandzukic

Once United allow Lukaku to go onto joining Inter Milan, whether it’s a loan deal or a permanent move, they will instantly miss the aerial ability he provides in the penalty box and how he is seen as a target man by the wingers and the full-backs. Though, it wouldn’t be a major problem in finding someone that is similar to him and maybe even more of a complete player than the Belgian forward, with the likes of Edin Dzeko, Edinson Cavani and Timo Werner regarded or seen as the perfect examples.

For the time being, Mario Mandzukic should be seen as the ideal candidate, when you remember that both Juventus and Maurizio Sarri have a list of attacking options that includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain, the young Moise Kean and Paulo Dybala. The 33-year-old Croatian international may go on to rethink about the upcoming season and could choose to spend a year or two in a new country or league, with the English football suiting his aerial ability and his big-game mentality, as shown in recent years.

Wissam Ben Yedder

When looking for strikers who are able to run down the channels and have the quality to get the best out of their team-mates as well as themselves, it is really hard to find at this moment of time, purely because of how majority are already at the best clubs in Europe or are in the final years of their career. On the other hand, one of the most ideal options that could potentially be available for the current system and unbalanced attack, would be none other than Sevilla’s Wissam Ben Yedder.

If one is not familiar with Ben Yedder’s style of play, then you should consider him as a similar player to Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, someone who is simply silent but deadly in the final third of the pitch. Having produced 18 goals and nine assists in 35 league appearances last season, there should be no doubts about what he can achieve on and off the ball. And given that he will become 29-years-old next month, he will surely be open to a huge move before he reaches his final years as a professional footballer.

Ed Woodward and the monumental mistakes he has made

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In order for a massive football club to be successful consistently on the pitch, it must be ran well and be intelligently proactive off it. It’s one of the few and huge reasons to why the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus dominate their respective leagues whilst also convincingly challenge well in the Champions League, even if they haven’t won it for the last couple of years or so.

And then when you look at Manchester United, the money has always been there for the side to continue being ruthless time and time again. However, due to the lack of footballing knowledge of the Glazers as well as Ed Woodward, the most successful club in England have constantly gone back and forth whilst not finding the right medicine to take them back to where they used to belong.

Now, we dig deep into the mistakes that vice-chairman Ed Woodward has made…

Telling Rio Ferdinand he does not have a future at the club

At the time of the situation, the Red Devils went through a horrendous 2013-14 campaign under David Moyes. And to top it all of, Ed Woodward walked into the dressing room on the final day of the season and told Rio Ferdinand that his services are no longer required. The worst thing about it, the experienced individuals such as Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Ryan Giggs left in the same summer, meaning that the United squad were missing the crucial veterans they looked up to.

For sure, he wasn’t going to remain as a regular starter at 35-years-old, but his incredible experience and likeable personality would have been something that the young defenders as well as the whole squad would have benefited from. United’s defensive issues unfortunately continued and were ongoing for the next few seasons, meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand went on to play his last year as a professional footballer at Queens Park Rangers in the next campaign, before eventually retiring.

Bragging to the media that the side can buy anyone in the world

One of the most uncomfortable statements made by Ed Woodward himself was back in 2014, where he had stated how financially dominant the club were, how the club’s strategy in the transfer window was well planned and how good the scouting department are. Five years on, United are in the same position, and have not been able to evidently prove these as a fact or a statement.

The club have never been the type to brag and publicise about their financial prowess or their ability to spend around £200million to £250million each summer window. However, since the interview was conducted by Woodward, other clubs have been able to poach extra money for when their respective players moved to Old Trafford, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Fred and Romelu Lukaku is the best examples, three individuals who are certainly not worth the figure they were brought for.

Hiring Ole Gunnar Solskjaer without keeping an eye out for other coaches

If we are being brutally honest, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wouldn’t have got the job on an interim-basis nor as the permanent manager of the club hadn’t it been for his previous success as a United football player. Otherwise, it would have been a similar situation of when the board had brought in David Moyes, someone who lacked the required intelligence and qualifications for the job. Looking quickly into Solskjaer’s managerial experience, he has managed only two small sides in Cardiff and Molde, which isn’t enough to warrant him a coaching position at a mid-table team such as Everton, Leicester City or Wolverhampton Wanderers, let alone a massive club like Manchester United.

On the other hand, the likes of Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino and Zinedine Zidane were quietly available before the 46-year-old Norwegian international had officially got the job, which does raise the questions of how Woodward had analysed the coaches before coming to a final outcome. Given that the proven managers in Jose Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal were not able to lead the team to a title challenge, it does seem like the hierarchy opted to change their ways by bringing in someone that really understood the club’s style and mentality on and off the pitch.

Targeting/signing players by their reputation rather than by their quality

Going back to United’s recruitment and scouting process, it doesn’t seem like they actually have a plan in place and they prefer to do more business if they finish out of the Champions League spots. During the time where the club were preparing for Europa League football, they had still managed to bring in the top quality players such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Not only that, but Woodward has evidently shown his love for a marquee signing over the last couple of years, where he attempted to bring in either of Gareth Bale, Kaldiou Koulibaly or Neymar, but the end outcome itself was purely expected. With how much time and focus is wasted on trying to lure players into Old Trafford through the lucrative contracts rather than the club’s ambition, it’s a must for the recruiters to find individuals through their quality and the rising potential they have.

Who is Daniel James and is he worth the money?

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Given how a lot of the transfer news circulates around social media, especially through Twitter, majority of football fans prefer to keep up to date through this method rather than awaiting for the breaking news on BBC Sport or Sky Sports News. With how reliable the likes of David Ornstein, Gianluca Di Marzio and Mohamed Bouhafsi are, it’s not a surprise to see how things have changed over the last couple of years.

The similar situation was with Daniel James before he had joined Manchester United from Swansea City, where a potential deal seemed close in the middle of May. However, due to tragic passing away of the player’s father, both his current team and soon-to-be new club respectfully gave him enough time to grieve with his family and his friends, which was a brilliant act from the two football clubs.

Focusing more on the individual and his £15million deal to the red side of Manchester, the Old Trafford faithful are hoping that he isn’t the only attacking outlet that arrives this summer, as they lack the pure quality up front. Not only that, some of them are starting to feel that the club’s transfer policy has began to finally change, and that they are seriously targeting players by their huge potential and quality rather than by their name.

At such a low price of purchase compared to the other signings United have completed throughout the last couple of summer windows, the player himself should see his first season in the top-tier of English football as a full year to settle into the club before the expectations begin to rise. Then again, it is easier said than done, as well-known players such as Memphis Depay, Radamel Falcao and Wilfried Zaha failed to get going.

Being recognised for his incredible burst of pace, James has evolved into quite the talent over the last 12 to 18 months, allowing him to memorably earn his international debut for Wales in November 2018 whilst going onto complete 33 league appearances in the Championship. Also, he ended the season with an individual honour that will now be very dear to him, as he won Swansea City’s best Newcomer of the Year award.

Furthermore, his intelligence to work within tight areas on and off the ball has made him a dangerous wide outlet, with the full-backs unsure whether to man mark him or sit deep and defend their own half. With how highly rated he is by the Wales coach, Ryan Giggs, there is no surprise that the former United player as well as his close assistants would have advised his previous club of how incredibly talented the young whizkid is.

Not many would remember this from the 2019 January transfer window. However, James himself was actually close to signing for Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United for a fee of £10million, and he had also went up to the county of Yorkshire to complete his medical too. Just a couple of minutes before the transfer deadline had passed, Swansea City pulled the plug on deal, ensuring he stays at the Liberty Stadium.

It is too early to see the type of role given to the 21-year-old, but if he goes on to becoming an instant impact as a substitution before playing a crucial part in the cup fixtures, then there is no arguments at all that prevents him from being a regular starter. And if that is the case, he could be the perfect long-term signing that both Diogo Dalot and Victor Lindelof are hoping to become, two young individuals with huge potential that came to the club with huge expectations and have already become fan favourites.

Overall, Manchester United have always been known for their attacking and dominant football, where they operate through the flanks through the wingers’ creativity and pace, which Daniel James will surely be looking to offer as the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata have failed to consistently do so in recent seasons.

Now, everyone will wait and see how his debut season goes, as he has officially become Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first signing as the manager of the club…..

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.