As the international break is a couple of days away from ending, the majority of Manchester United supporters will be wondering how the manager and the players will prepare for the final four to six weeks of the season. Sitting in second place, along with remaining in the Europa League, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men still have a fair amount to play for in the remaining short period of the campaign.
Following the club’s departure from the FA Cup to Leicester City two weeks ago, the chances of winning a piece of silverware this season is through the Europa League route only, which still has the likes of Arsenal, Ajax, Roma and Villarreal in the intense competition. Nevertheless, the Red Devils are still favourites to win the trophy, and if the manager goes two seasons without delivering a league title or trophy, a lot of doubts and questions will be raised by the Old Trafford faithful.
With no further ado, here are the three players that need to improve after the international break…
From having his most prolific campaign in a Manchester United shirt last season, scoring 17 goals and producing six assists in 32 league appearances, to being on the worst form of his professional career, Anthony Martial has contributed to only seven league goals directly in 1488 minutes of Premier League football. The Frenchman’s issues in front of goal and lack of consistency, has led to the links to Erling Braut Haaland, who was wanted by both the club and manager, over a season ago.
Given how Manchester United play under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Martial is a key individual for his system, especially with his hold-up play and his ability to bring the midfielders and the other attackers into the game. On the other hand, the 25 year old’s stiff movement in the final third of the pitch and his consistency to hide away in games is showing to be a huge problem, and if these weaknesses are not ironed out, it would not be a surprise to see him slowly drifted away from the starting line-up, as the top teams in European football have a number nine that is complete and dominant.
For sure, many will wonder why Bruno Fernandes has made this list, someone who is proving to be one of the key performers for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United this campaign. However, the Portuguese international has not been himself since the start of 2021, as he has found it difficult to effect and influence the game in the way he normally does so. Not only that, but he has been playing week in and out without an actual rest, causing a massive hinderance on his day-to-day impact and output.
Over the last few months, Fernandes has been showing some inconsistency and flaws in his game, where he tends to overdo his passes, spam constant crosses as well as lead a single and unnecessary press, allowing the opposition to take advantage of the space that he leaves behind. The good news happens to be, he is suspended for Portugal’s final fixture of the international break, resulting in his return to Manchester a couple of days ago, which will allow him to enjoy the final days of resting before playing in the Premier League again.
David De Gea
Without a doubt he is regarded as a fans favourite and someone who has individually helped Manchester United during their decline after the Sir Alex Ferguson-era, though, David De Gea is now holding back the football club from playing their best football and most importantly from competing for titles and trophies under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The fact that he can no longer produce his outstanding reflexes, he is not vocal enough as a goalkeeper and is seriously unconvincing at playing out from the back, makes him a huge defensive liability.
Furthermore, Dean Henderson has been given a number of chances to prove himself in De Gea’s absence, in which he has outdone the expectations of the manager as well as the supporters with quality performances against the like of Manchester City, Real Sociedad in both legs and AC Milan in the second leg. And if he continues to perform at a high level as well as minimise the weaknesses in the Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof partnership, then the Spaniard’s time at Old Trafford will most certainly look to be over.