Man Utd 3-0 Watford: The Reds Devils move up to fifth place as Bruno Fernandes shines once again

After seeing the likes of Leicester City, Sheffield United and Tottenham Hotspur drop crucial points on Saturday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United went on to beat Nigel Pearson’s Watford in what was quite the comfortable and straightforward victory at Old Trafford on a Sunday afternoon.

Ahead of the game, the main thoughts on a United point of view was if they can taken the advantage for once from the results of the other teams above them, as they have failed to do so on many occasions throughout the season and it is why they are currently not in the top four positions. Meanwhile, for Watford, who still remain in the relegation zone and just a point away from safety, the questions were if they could pull off an upset against a big side or would their poor run continue.

Looking at it as a whole, the hosts had unsurprisingly dominated possession from start to end, along with creating a couple of clear-cut chances and completing just under 10 shots on target. Although it took the side some time to get into the game, with the visitors pressing high up the pitch and causing a number of problems, they were able to play on the front foot after the half hour period.

With the crucial goals coming from the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood, the side were able to work on their inconsistent home form and show to the neutral supporters that the race for a top four finish is not over anytime soon. And the side should have had a fourth goal here and there, but Daniel James was sadly not convincing enough in front of goal.

On the other hand, the Hornets posed a decent threat through a few set pieces and on the counter-attack, with a goal from Troy Deeney being harshly ruled out due to an apparent handball from Craig Dawson. Watford will want to work on their performances and decision making in the final third of the pitch, as they did not create a single chance and ended the game with just four shots completed.

In the end, United made the advantage count and picked up the much needed win, allowing them to move above Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United into fifth place. And for Nigel Pearson’s Watford, there will be a huge amount of concerns and fears on what is in store for them for the rest of the season, as they still need to face the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal.

Here are the three things we learnt in United’s latest league fixture…

Bruno Fernandes completes another perfect performance

Completing one goal and one assist in his third league game for Manchester United, it just feels like Bruno Fernandes has been playing in the Premier League and at Old Trafford for a number of years. Once again, he has shown the capability that he can play in many areas and is able to be seen as the heartbeat of the side’s attack, as he continues to show his intelligence and class on and off the ball.

As long as the movement and pace are up there in the final third of the pitch, he is able to create the clear-cut chances that the likes of Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood are always looking for. With Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba still remaining on the sidelines and are not expected to return from injury anytime soon, Solskjaer along with the squad are blessed with an individual that they can depend and rely on, who is able to create something out of nothing and is also quite a vocal leader.

The Red Devils produce the ideal result and performance after a long time

It’s been a long time since United have been able to match the three points along with a convincing performance and a number of goals. The last time they completed that, was against Norwich in the second week of January, which still feels like a long time ago for a side that wants to reach Champions League football and start challenging for the league title once again. Despite the lack of quality and squad depth, the team are making small steps of progress, whether it can be seen or not.

Having won back-to-back league games for the third time this campaign, the side’s consistency and effectiveness on both sides of the pitch is starting to show its rewards, as they once looked close to finishing in the middle of the league but are now a couple of points behind fourth-place Chelsea. With the side yet to reach their peak and are still missing a few key individuals within the line-up, who knows what the squad are capable of achieving if they all have the same winning mindset.

Can Solskjaer do the unthinkable and guide the team to a top four finish?

For sure, the side’s chances of finishing in the top four does look slim, especially when you consider the difficult run of games United still have and how they are also busy with the Europa League fixtures. However, if the results in the remaining league matches go in their favour and they are able to pick up maximum points from now till the end, anything can really happen in the Premier League.

The victory against Watford makes it their 11th league win of the season, with only the four teams above United that have won more games than them so far this campaign. And given the situation that the noisy neighbours Manchester City have found themselves in with the UEFA, with them receiving a two-year ban from Champions League football, it could potentially mean that if Solskjaer’s Manchester United were to finish in fifth-place, they could actually qualify for next season’s Champions League.

The four Premier League players to have in your Fantasy team for the rest of the season

With just three months of football remaining, every single Fantasy Premier League manager will be reviewing their teams and be aiming to make the most out of the outstanding features they have, whether that’s the wildcard option, the bench boost, the free hit or even the triple captain selection.

Unsurprisingly, the Premier League has been really unpredictable this season, as majority of the teams in the league and a lot of the well-known players from the top-six sides have been inconsistent. However, with 11 league fixtures left and the European Championship to take place this summer, a large number of individuals will be working their socks off to reach this grand stage.

Not only that, given the return of the prestigious Champions League as well as the Europa League football, all Fantasy Premier League managers will be doubting any important decision they make and they will not be totally sure of what results to expect or predict in the upcoming fixtures.

With no further ado, here are the four perfect Premier League players to have in your team…

Goalkeeper – Alisson

Having the best defensive record in the league, conceding 15 goals in 26 league games, there’s no doubts at all that Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are miles ahead of the rest of the teams in the country and are potentially on their way to ending the season undefeated. On that note, having Alisson Becker in your team is a no brainer, who is on 10 clean sheets along with Nick Pope, despite playing nine games fewer than the Burnley shot stopper due to the calf injury he picked up back in August.

The 27-year-old Brazilian international is now being recognised as the best goalkeeper in the league and one of the best in Europe, as he continues to put in the hard work between the goalposts along with helping the side through his ability to play as a ball-playing individual. With Liverpool’s fixtures looking straightforward, barring the games away to Arsenal and Manchester City, there should be no huge problems in seeing Alisson to carry on achieving the consistent clean sheets, who is only valued at £6.2m.

Defender – John Lundstram

A lot of FPL managers would have found out by now about the advantage and benefits of having John Lundstram in their team, someone who is a central-midfielder but is actually seen as a defender on the Fantasy Football app and website. The main positives are when Sheffield United keep a clean sheet or when Lundstram himself bags a goal, as he is able to go onto gaining a few extra bonus points, which is why he has accomplished over 100 points and is expected to gain more and more.

Although he has been benched by Chris Wilder over the last couple of weeks for the Blades’ record signing in Sander Berge, he is expected to be brought back into the line-up soon rather than later, as the side are continuing to push for a spot in next season’s Europa League and will want to finish the campaign on a high note. With the side having the second best defensive record in the league, along with Lundstram being the club’s third best player in terms of direct goal contributions, it would surely be an easy and simple decision of bringing him into your backline for a figure of just £5.0m.

Midfielder – James Maddison

For sure, his form over the last two months has not been brilliant, but with the likes of Norwich, Aston Villa and Watford coming up for Leicester City, it would be more than ideal to keep or bring James Maddison into your fantasy football team. The English playmaker has managed to produce 68 key passes so far this season, with only three other players in the league outdoing him in this area.

With the Euros coming up this summer, Maddison will hope that his performances throughout the season as well as what he produces in the final few months will be enough to persuade Gareth Southgate to select him in the squad, as he will have a number of players to choose from due to the rise of Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Callum Hudson-Odoi and many other individuals. Back onto Maddison, for a value of £7.4m, he is bound to come in with the goals and assists for the Foxes, as they actually have an easy run of games before they face Spurs and Man Utd towards the end of the campaign.

Striker – Tammy Abraham

In his first full season as a regular starter for Chelsea, Tammy Abraham has shown up with the much needed goods, as he has notched 13 goals and three assists in 25 league appearances. Given the ongoing injury he has had from the start of this year, he has not been able to perform the same way as he was once doing and it has prevented him from playing at his best, but with the recent winter break and some further time off, he is now fully back at 100% and is ready to score the crucial goals once again.

It’s not easy to choose the ideal striker in your fantasy football team, but for a team that’s quite attacking-minded as Chelsea are and with Abraham always starting ahead of the likes of Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud, he will always seem like the most suitable option as he aims to end the season on 20 league goals and over. Chelsea’s remaining fixtures from now till the end of the season does not seem difficult at all, barring Liverpool and Man City, the rest look like straightforward victories if they can be dominant and ruthless on both sides of the pitch.

Chelsea 0-2 Man Utd: The Red Devils walk away with the much needed three points as the Blues’ unconvincing home form continues

Ahead of gameweek 26, the main focus was the incoming battle between Chelsea and Manchester United, two clubs who used to go neck to neck with one another for the league title back in the early years of the 21st century, but are now challenging it out with one another for a top four position.

Going into the game, the main thoughts were purely on how both teams would react following the long winter break, as neither of the sides have entered into 2020 in winning spirits and have been failing to show consistency. A win for Frank Lampard’s men would have killed United’s chances of finishing in the top four whilst extending their gap in fourth place away from both Spurs and Sheffield United, meanwhile, the three points for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team would be a huge sigh of relief for himself and the players, who have been criticised by the English press in recent weeks.

Overall, if one was to see the actual match and compare it to the end result, you would be shocked with the amount of chances that the hosts had from the first second of the game until the final whistle, as they were unable to convert their attempts on goal into the back of net. And in the end, despite the two goals that were cancelled out in the second half, they had only completed one shot on goal in the whole game, which is not good enough for a top-four side that are playing at home.

On the other hand, United showed how clinical and effective they are in the big games, where they are able produce something out of nothing and are always posing a threat through Anthony Martial and Daniel James. Surprisingly for the visitors, both their goals had actually come from headers, which has not been the usual way of scoring for them, especially with their difficulties on set-pieces.

In the end, United picked up the much needed victory, allowing them to move up to seventh place and three points behind Chelsea, who have a tough run of fixtures that are coming up which includes facing the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Manchester City. The result at Stamford Bridge is what the Premier League supporters would have hoped for, as the race to finish in the top four will continue till the final day of the season whilst the challenge for the league title is already over.

With no further ado, here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest league game…

Bruno Fernandes went on to complete quite a performance

Completing one assist, three key passes, 31 passes at a success rate of 79.5% and 54 touches on the ball, Bruno Fernandes had put on quite the performance in the number ten role, where he was also playing more as a false nine from time to time. With how quickly he has settled into English football, the chances of him being an expensive flop is really minimal as showed his intelligence on and off the ball as well as his immaculate positional awareness in what was his second game for United.

Looking at the understanding and chemistry he has formed with the likes of Fred, Daniel James and even Anthony Martial, there is no doubt that he can play a pivotal role in helping the side to finish the season on a high, as he is starting to show that he is the one to link the side’s attack from midfield. Once the individuals in Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay return from injury, the team will have the perfect balance in midfield, which will allow Bruno Fernandes to play at his absolute best.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has his setup and tactics spot on again in a big game

For sure, there are many valid questions and pure hesitation about Solskjaer’s shocking record and performances when it comes against the so-called lower teams. However, the results against the top-six sides continue to stay strong and does speak for itself, as Ole has now done the double over Chelsea, which has actually not been done by a Manchester United manager in a really long time.

Within the back-five setup, it helped the team to be more compact in their own half, especially with Luke Shaw being effective as the third centre-back and the fact that Eric Bailly’s return was more than ever needed, someone who is seen as the side’s best defender. And on top of that, the effort put in by the wing-backs up and down the flank as well as from Fred through the middle was second to none, as they were able to stretch the Chelsea defence and cause them several problems.

VAR intervened on a few occasions with nearly all the correct calls

There has been a huge debate about whether the VAR system is actually useful or not, since the start of the footballing season up until now. Despite many decisions going against and for a club, it has to be seen as a fact, that nearly all the outcomes produced by this method have turned out to be correct. It may take a couple of minutes or so to review an event, which could unsettle the players and the supporters, but as long as the decisions are right, there should be no arguments at all.

Besides the outcome of the kickout from Harry Maguire on Michy Batshuayi, which could be analysed and reviewed in a number of ways, with no red card shown following the incident, the rest of the decisions made by the officials was spot on, including the moment where they had to cancel Kurt Zouma’s goal due to a foul in the build-up and Olivier Giroud’s goal because he was marginally offside. Although VAR is not a smooth and straightforward process at this moment of time, but it definitely will be soon or later, when the Football Association will go over how the method is used once the season comes to an end, and think of ideas on how to improve how it is implemented.

Chelsea vs Man Utd: The three key battles for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his men to look out for ahead of the Monday night fixture at Stamford Bridge

Ahead of gameweek 26, Manchester United shockingly sit in ninth-place and six points away from the top four positions, as they take on Frank Lampard’s Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge on Monday night. Given that there are only two league wins that separate both teams from one another, it does show the how competitive as well as how inconsistent the Premier League has been this campaign.

There are no doubts that both sides will be showing their energy and work rate on and off the ball along with the intention of securing the three points to help their side move a step forward to playing Champions League football next season. A top four finish for both teams would help them target the world class players in the summer window, in order for them to become title contenders.

Most importantly, this would be the perfect opportunity for the Red Devils to mark their stamp and also turn their away form around, having only won three games away from Old Trafford and have picked up just the 12 points out of a potential 36, whilst Chelsea’s record at home has been quite on and off with nine other teams having a better home record than them.

It’s time to look at the three key battles that can decide the outcome of this fixture…

Daniel James vs Cesar Azpilicueta

With Marcus Rashford on the sidelines for a couple of months along with Anthony Martial being really off form for the last month or so, the main attention and focus on the go-to-man will look to be Daniel James, who is always a handful with his incredible burst of pace and movement in the final third of the pitch. He may lack the final quality when needed the most, but there is a huge certainty that he will be the dangerman out on the flanks and mainly when he cuts through into the middle.

James will be in for a skin-tight and a difficult clash with Cesar Azpilicueta, who is now being utilised as a left-back due to the rise of youngster Reece James in the right-back position. The Spaniard is known to be one of the most complete defenders within the league, having played as a centre back, left back and right back throughout the last couple of years. Given his experience and exceptional positioning defensively, it would be no surprise to see him keeping Daniel James in his back pocket.

Tammy Abraham vs Harry Maguire

Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham is having quite the season and especially in his first full campaign as a regular starter, as he has played on loan for the likes of Aston Villa, Swansea City and Bristol City in recent years, in order for him to gain the intelligence and understanding before he plays in the top flight of English football. And now he is on double figures in league goals, notching 13 in 24 league appearances, with only six players in the Premier League that have more goals than the 22-year-old.

Abraham has the capability to play as a target man and also as a poacher, when you consider his aerial ability as well as how he is in the right place at the right time, and he will be up against none other than Harry Maguire, who is starting to be seen as Manchester United’s best centre-back. Despite his poor performances and lack of consistency towards the end of last year, he has than more than enough to turn his form around, as the side have conceded only six goals in 10 games in all competition.

Bruno Fernandes vs Jorginho

When you see the lack of options that Solskjaer has within midfield, remembering that Paul Pogba is still a few weeks away from returning and Scott McTominay has just returned to regular training, It will mean that Bruno Fernandes will have to guide the team and show in a big match that he is the real deal. After a bright display against Wolves at home, there should not be many worries for the Red Devils of if he will be a flop or can he handle the intensity and physicality of English football.

On the other hand, for Chelsea, Jorginho will be the individual to keep an eye out for, someone who dictates the play deep in his own half and is able to pull out the much needed passes to the his teammates on the flanks and through the middle. The Italian deep-lying playmaker has been proving his critics and the English media wrong since moving from Serie A to the Premier League, as he has shown the class and composure in playing as the deepest player in the midfield trio, which is not a straightforward job for a player like him who lacks the required physicality and acceleration or pace.

Man Utd: Why the winter break has come at a perfect time for the club and the manager

With the new rule of the winter break kicking into place within the Premier League, Manchester United are one of the many clubs that will have a two week rest and a recovery period until their next league game. Given the side’s results in January, picking up only three points out of a potential 12, majority of the United supporters would agree that this break has come as a blessing in disguise.

With the league defeats to the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Burnley as well as being kicked out of the EFL Cup semi-finals to the noisy neighbours in Manchester City, there hasn’t been many enjoyable moments for United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last month. However, the arrivals of Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo will have some people excited and looking forward to the final months of the season, as the side are still in the FA Cup, Europa League and six points away from top four.

Focusing a little bit on Bruno and Ighalo, this 14-day break will give them a lot of bonding and connecting time to get to know one another as well as the rest of the players in the dressing room, who will be more than glad to see that they have a new playmaker and a new striker to work around for the rest of the season. Having only scored four goals in their last five league games, with all of them coming at home to Norwich, the side’s creativity and goals have instantly dried up since the unfortunate injury to Marcus Rashford.

As the first week of the two-week winter break has come to an end, Solskjaer and the full squad have spent a number of days doing intense training in the warm weather in Spain as they look to improve their concentration and focus levels before they take on the final months of the season. And on top of that, the good news is that Scott McTominay has returned from injury whilst Paul Pogba is taking small steps to recovery.

The break should give the manager some time to think of a more effective plan as well as a useful backup idea, as the current system and tactics are simply not working at all, with the side in eight place within the Premier League and are six points behind fourth-place Chelsea. They actually take on Frank Lampard’s men straight after the winter break is over, and if they do not take the three points away from the Stamford Bridge, then they should consider their hopes of finishing in the top four completely over.

To be brutally honest, the side’s chances of achieving Champions League football for next season through a top four finish is very, very low, as the team have already dropped a lot of points away from home and still have the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur to play from now till the end of the season. However, the team have their only hope of success through the Europa League, a competition they have previously won in the 2016-17 campaign under Jose Mourinho.

Then again, the quality in the Europa League has increased massively in recent years, as well-known teams such as Ajax, Inter Milan and Sevilla, are in the knockout stages of the competition and are hoping to do their all to get to the finals. Also, the quality and squad depth that United had when they previously won the Europa League compared to what they have now is a massive decline itself, as the lack of options in the squad leaves the manager with no choice but to use the players from the academy setup.

Overall, if the players and most importantly the manager, are not able to turn it around, then it will be another a difficult summer for everyone that is at the football club, as Manchester United continue to fall further and further behind from their main rivals in Liverpool and Manchester City. And not only that, but another season without a top four finish and another year where a managerial change has to take place, will have the Old Trafford faithful questioning what is actually happening to the club and when will the decline come to an end.

Man Utd 0-0 Wolves: The Red Devils drop points at home again as they move down to sixth place

With both Chelsea and Leicester City dropping two points each in the early kick-off on Saturday afternoon, it gave Manchester United some hope as well as some wishful thinking that a potential victory over Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves would allow them to close the gap on the top four positions. However, that was not the case, as the match at Old Trafford ended in a boring stalemate.

The match was expected to be quite a slow-moving and dull fixture on both sides of the pitch, mainly because of Wolves and their pragmatic setup in a back-three system whilst United simply do not have the quality to create the key chances and also convert them. In the end, none of the sides were able to take the game by the scruff of the neck as the points were equally shared by both teams.

This was actually United’s fifth league game of 2020, as the side ended up achieving only four points out of a potential 15 ahead of the winter break, which does raise the question on if the Red Devils are good enough to push for a top four finish. Meanwhile, Wolves are on level for points with United but are just lower than them due to goal difference, as they continue their season in pure silence.

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

Bruno Fernandes produces a bright performance on his Old Trafford debut

For sure, there was no goals or assists produced to complete his performance, but Bruno Fernandes was showing off his quality on and off the ball, as he went onto show his intelligence tactically whilst proving to be a dangerous threat going forward. Although he was playing in a much more deeper role than what he was used to in his days at Sporting Lisbon, he had clearly saw the difficulties the side had with progressing the ball with intensity and decided to take matters into his own hands.

With the likes of Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba expected to return from suspension or injuries after the winter break and towards the end of the month, it would certainly allow the Portuguese international to play high up the pitch and focus on creating chances and scoring from distance, which is what he naturally specialises in. Once the midfield options come back, United will definitely be expected to control and dominates games with ease and no problems.

Lack of intelligence and movement in the attacking department lets United down

When you dominate the possession of the ball by 64%, complete 15 shots in 90 minutes, despite creating only one big chance, the ongoing issues have to be raised on the lack of attacking combinations and patterns that the Old Trafford faithful are witnessing. Sometimes, it feels like the players in the team are playing with one another for the first time, as they are unable to create or complete a progressive rhythm of passes, in order to help the side to build the play up effectively.

United’s go-to-man has been Marcus Rashford this season, someone who has the pace, dribbling ability and movement on and off the ball to cause a number of defenders massive worries, no matter if he is playing on the flanks or through the middle. However, since he has been on the sidelines, the other attackers within the squad have been unable to step up and rise to the occasion, as individuals such as Anthony Martial, Andreas Pereira and Daniel James have been below par.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s in-game management has to improve or he will not last long

When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made the double substitution of Diogo Dalot and Jesse Lingard for Daniel James and Juan Mata, there were quite a bit of groans and moans around Old Trafford as well as from the Manchester United supporters on social media, purely because of the fact that it took the manager until the 88th minute of the game to make the changes and push for the win. Despite the lack of quality and depth in the squad, Solskjaer has to have a backup plan for him to rely on, and has he does not have a plan A or plan B, it is high unlikely that he will succeed at Manchester United.

Since the arrival of Solskjaer on a permanent basis, there has not been that many players that have actually improved or been taken to the next level, besides the individuals that have been promoted from the youth academy. Not only that, 25 league games into the season, the side have only been able to pick up nine wins and eight draws, as they are currently experiencing a season of a low tally of points, which has not been witnessed even under the likes of David Moyes or Louis Van Gaal.

Man Utd 6-0 Tranmere Rovers; The Red Devils continue to progress in the FA Cup as they cruised past Micky Mellon’s men with ease

After a really difficult week with defeats to Burnley and Liverpool in the league, Manchester United had only two things on their mind, of getting back to winning ways and aiming to end the season with a bit of silverware, as they travelled to Tranmere Rovers for the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Going into the game, majority of football fans were expecting a potential upset and some FA Cup magic, especially if one was to consider the away side’s poor form over the last couple of weeks whilst the state of the pitch at Prenton Park would have surely been an advantage to the hosts only.

However, it was a straightforward victory and a walk in the park for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United, as the three goals by the 16th minute mark was more than enough to put the game to bed despite the efforts and hard work that was shown by the Tranmere Rovers players from start till the end.

With the goals coming from the most unlikely of sources in the first half through Harry Maguire, Diogo Dalot, Jesse Lingard and even Phil Jones, it was the fifth time this season were the side has scored four goals or more in a single game. On top of that, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood were able to chip in with a goal, two individuals who have to step up in Marcus Rashford’s absence.

Now, we look onto the three key things we learnt from United’s latest match…

The back-three/five formation has it’s benefits when correctly utilised

The back-three/five formation is often seen as a defensive and pragmatic system, due to the number of defenders and lack of attacking-minded players that are utilised within the setup. However, when having the ideal individuals and intelligent players that fit into each specific role flawlessly, then it works out perfectly, just like what the Red Devils had seen from their team today at Prenton Park.

With the likes of Rashford, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay remaining out on the sidelines and are not expected to return from injury anytime soon, United could possibly use the 3-4-1-2 setup more often as they aim to the remaining schedule game by game. Given the energetic wing-backs in Brandon Williams and Diogo Dalot, as well as a playmaker like Juan Mata to link the midfield to attack, the back-three/five formation could be seen a short term solution for Solskjaer and his men.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gets back to winning ways and fights to live for another day

It’s not been an easy week for Solskjaer, as the defeats to Burnley and Liverpool have had the United fans and the Premier League pundits questioning if he is the right man for the job, someone who is lacking the needed experience and tactical knowledge in order to succeed at one of the biggest clubs in the world. Though, with the dominant victory over Tranmere Rovers and the players putting on a discipline and composed display, it could possibly be something that they can build on from here.

As the side continue to remain in the FA Cup, Europa League, EFL Cup (not for long) and six points away from fourth-place Chelsea, there is still a lot to fight for as long as Solskjaer can remain open-minded on and off the pitch whilst proving that he can get the best out of the current squad. If he can get maximum points from now until the key players return from injury, then there is a possibility of the team ending the season on a high note, however, it is a big if as the side have not been able to show their dominance, consistency and quality on a regular basis so far this footballing campaign.

The United supporters continue to protest against the Glazers and Ed Woodward

Despite the 6-0 victory over Tranmere Rovers and the fact that the side have qualified for the next round of the FA Cup, the United supporters were still not satisfied, as they went on to directing their anger and frustration to the Glazers and Ed Woodward, who have played the pivotal role to the club’s decline. With the fans raising their voice today and recently against Burnley and Norwich, it looks like they will continue to do so until there is a huge change to revive their football club.

It’s actually been a long time coming, as the hierarchy and the owners have not shown enough attention and care towards the club’s performance and results on the pitch, whilst they are more bothered and focused about the income and profit they have been able to make off it. However, the Manchester United fans are taking a stand and are now saying enough is enough, as the side have failed to make a single challenge for the Premier League title since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Will Bruno Fernandes to Manchester United actually happen this time around?

It’s that time again. With most of the January transfer window completed, the transfer rumours circulating around Manchester United continue to increase and rise day after day, which is no longer a surprise as the English media and the European outlets enjoy using the Premier League giant’s name, in order for them to gain more attention and awareness towards their daily coverage.

So far this month, the club have been already linked to the likes of Jude Bellingham, Jack Grealish, James Maddison, Raul Jimenez and many other players. However, over the last couple of days, the consistent and strong reports have been to no one else but Sporting Lisbon’s Bruno Fernandes, who was actually on the club’s radar throughout the whole summer but nothing concrete came from it.

Half a year later, the interest has been revived between both clubs, as the press in England and Portugal are more than certain that a deal can be agreed on by all parties before the transfer window comes to an end. Given the financial issues that Sporting are currently going through, they would still be looking to demand a fee of around €70million for the 25-year-old, however, the Red Devils seem quiet confident that an offer of £45million plus £10millions in add-ons will be enough.

With both Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba on the sidelines, and are expected to remain out of action till the latter stages of the season, the lack of creativity, goals and quality within the line-up instantly dries up as they have lost to the likes of Arsenal, Burnley and Liverpool this month. In all three of those games, they failed to score in either of them or create any chances convincingly.

And when you looking at the situation from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s point of view, it doesn’t take much to find an upgrade on certain attacking midfielders such as Andreas Pereira, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata, a few examples of individuals that have been utilised within the number ten role but have failed to come up with the end product in the final third. If Bruno was to come in, he’d fit perfectly in the playmaker role, linking up effectively with both Anthony Martial and Daniel James.

Not only that, but the Sporting captain has more to his game than his ability to shoot from distance and to create clear-cut chances with ease, as he continues to prove himself as a player that never hides away from the ball or the game. He is also regarded as a complete midfielder, chipping in with the defensive duties whilst showing his tactical intelligence and positioning in the advanced areas.

Also, in regards to the intelligence he shows within the game, he has the quality to drive his team forward from midfield through his dribbling and movement on and off the ball. The intelligence he possess, most certainly allows him to be in the right place at the right time, whether that’s in the final third of the pitch to latch onto the ball or make a crucial tackle on the defensive phase.

United’s main issues have been breaking down the teams that setup in a defensive low block and oppositions that are more than happy to sit in their own third of the pitch for majority of the game. However, with the potential arrival of Bruno, the side would have a playmaker and an attacking midfielder than can be the game changer, something they have been sorely missing for a long time.

Overall, it would not be a surprise to see the board and Ed Woodward failing to pay up to Sporting Lisbon’s demands in order for Bruno Fernandes to arrive to Old Trafford, as they have choked up on a number of similar deals in the past. On the other hand, if they were able to snap up the Portuguese international before the transfer window is over, it would be the perfect news for Solskjaer and the Old Trafford faithful, who have not been enjoying the last couple of weeks with a very thin squad.

Man Utd 4-0 Norwich: The Red Devils pick up their first win of 2020 as the Canaries continue to struggle

With Leicester City dropping points in their respective game whilst Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool go head-to-head with one another on Saturday evening in gameweek 22, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways as they faced a Norwich side that currently sit at the bottom of the league and have not win a league game since November.

Going into the afternoon game at Old Trafford, Solskjaer would have anticipated a couple of goals as well as a simple win, despite the side facing a number of problems when it comes to breaking down the mid-table teams. On the other hand, for Daniel Farke, even taking a point away from Old Trafford would have been more than enough, as the Canaries sit rock bottom in the Premier League.

Overall, looking at the game from the first second till the final whistle, the hosts had full control and dominated on and off the ball, going onto creating four big chances, completing six shots on target and most importantly, scoring four goals in a single league match after a long time. Meanwhile, the visitors did not have much good moments at all and would have preferred the match to be over as soon as possible, as they did not have the quality in each department to pick up a result today.

United struggled for small period in the beginning to get to the final third of the pitch and to get past the opposition’s defence. However, they managed to get their first goal of the game just before the 30 minute mark, as Juan Mata came into the middle from the right flank before crossing the ball into the far corner of the post, which was connected by a composed volley from Marcus Rashford.

The side continued to control the game, with some good passage of play through the middle as well as out on the flanks, but did not show the ideal urgency to look for the crucial second goal, in order to put the game to bed before half-time. With just a few moments till the end of the first half, the away side managed to complete their first shot on target through Todd Cantwell, who attempted to pass the ball into the far corner of the net, but his shot was well pushed away by David De Gea.

Following the half-time break, United were on the front foot once again and it did not take them long to get another goal, as they were awarded a penalty, with Rashford stepping up to take it and scoring his second goal of the game and his 14th league goal of the season. The side went on to get to get the third goal in quick succession, as a short corner from the right side was then crossed perfectly by Mata, which was met by the head of Anthony Martial and into the corner of the net.

United’s youngsters continued to show their quality and are become quite the fans favourite, as Brandon Williams had a really great performance in the left-back role and should have ended the match with a goal, whilst Mason Greenwood came on from the bench in the 71st minute and went onto scoring a couple of minutes later with a fine finish to send it past Tim Krul and into the goal.

In the end, the result helps Manchester United to go back to fifth-place on 34 points, being just five points away from fourth-place Chelsea. Meanwhile, Daniel Farke’s Norwich City sit uncomfortably at the bottom of the league on 14 points, as they have only won three league games in 22 matches.

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

Marcus Rashford continues to show his world class quality

It was an amazing day for Marcus Rashford to remember, as he reached his 200 appearance for Manchester United and capped his day off at Old Trafford with a brace and an impressive showing on and off the ball. Given that he is still only 22-years-old, the best is yet to come from him and he is a few years away from his actual peak, making his ongoing development to be seen as a beautiful sight, as the critics and his doubters are starting to look silly as he is proving them all wrong.

It’s only early January at the moment, but he is currently on 14 league goals and is already past his best league tally in a single season, and he could continue to go on to scoring 25 league goals and 40-45 goals in all competitions as long as he stays fit and remains in good condition. With both Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku leaving the club in the summer, Rashford has stepped up massively and is more or less showing that he is the clinical forward that the club and manager desperately needs.

Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic produced a fine performance from their good old days

Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic are two experienced individuals who are clearly past their best and do not have the legs to complete consistent displays on a regular basis. However, the duo put up quite the performance against Norwich, with Matic providing the much needed security ahead of the backline and helping the team to recycle the ball effectively in the opposition’s half of the pitch.

And on the attacking side of the match, Mata was able to complete two assists, 82 touches on the ball and a successful pass completion rate of 90.1%, as the Spaniard produced the perfect performance from the number ten role, despite his movement out onto the flanks. As a whole, it was delightful to see Mata and Matic complete a throwback of a display from their good old days.

The Old Trafford faithful have had enough, as they called out on The Glazers and Ed Woodward

As the fixture was game, set and match by the hour mark or so, the home supporters around Old Trafford were united and stood up together to sing out their thoughts and feelings towards the Glazers and Ed Woodward. With the club failing to implement a title challenge in the Premier League or in the Champions League over the last five to six years, the United fans have simply had enough.

Most importantly, they did not show any anger or negativity towards Solskjaer, as in recent years, the United supporters would have preferred to blame the likes of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, who had failed to live up to the club’s expectations and standards. It may not make much difference that the chants were sang out loud for one game, but if it starts to happen on a more daily basis, it will surely be seen as sending a powerful message to the main people in charge.

Man Utd: Three tweaks that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should make to see out this difficult period

Manchester United are going through an up and down type of season, where they have been moving one step forward but two steps back, regardless of the current options available within the squad and who is managing the side. And with how the campaign is going so far, the side’s chances of finishing in the top four positions are very slim as they continue to drop points time after time.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have a lot to review over the next couple of weeks, with the January transfer window now officially open whilst he is not far away from having a fully fit squad. Not only that, with five points separating themselves from fourth-place Chelsea, the momentum can be turned around if the side begin to win their games consistently and not depend on other results.

Here are three tweaks that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should make as soon as possible…

Switch to a three-man midfield

Solskjaer looks to be fixed on a 4-2-3-1 system, which could be down to the lack of progress from midfield to attack, however, the current setup does not allow the side to control and dominate the games in a way a top side normally would. Given the injuries to Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay, keeping them on the sidelines for at least a number of weeks, the board and manager will have to enter into the transfer window and do their best to save the season from going bad to worse.

Despite the rumours spreading around on whether Pogba will leave or stay at Old Trafford, the team have to focus on themselves and continue to give their all on the pitch, even if it is with or without a certain individual. A potential three-man midfield of Fred, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba or a new signing in January, would assist the team in excelling on both sides of the pitch and helping them to be stable, something they have not been able to do on more than one occasion so far this term.

Time to be proactive on and off the ball

United’s lack of identity and style of play has got majority of the Old Trafford faithful raising a few questions, as they are unable to see an actual attacking system that has been implemented onto the team. Being brutally honest, not much has changed under Solskjaer compared to what was experienced in the final months of the Jose Mourinho era, as the side are still quite suspect defensively and are only creating clear chances when they break through on the counter-attack.

On top of that, the side have had a number of matches where they have found it very difficult to breakdown a deep low block, forcing them to take shots from outside of the box and slowing down the movement on and off the ball. Also, the team have been giving the opposition a lot of space and time in possession from time to time, something that is not naturally done by a team chasing for a top four position, as they would constantly be pressing the opponents into making mistakes high up the pitch.

The work on the in-game management has to be done

And finally, the most important area that Solskjaer has to improve on to turn the season around, is his in-game management and the key decisions he makes, as the timing of the change of formations and substitutions over the last couple of months have been questionable. It was more than understandable that this issue would occur at the start of his managerial time at United, however, one year on, he is still trying to overcome this ongoing problem and is finding it tough and really impossible to find an ideal solution.

Overall, too much cannot be expected from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, as it does not look like he’s very knowledgeable when it comes to tactics and is not showing that he has a backup plan when badly required. Given his lack of flexibility in terms of methods and strategies, his days at Old Trafford could seriously be numbered if he is unable to come up with some consistent and effective ideas, that can help turn the side’s performances and results around, as they somehow continue to suffer week after week.