Phil Foden, Mason Greenwood and Harry Maguire have embarrassed England and Gareth Southgate has a huge job on his hands

Nothing has changed from the England mental attitude of the 1970s, 80s, or 90s, and this is something that current manager Gareth Southgate learned in the most direct way in the past few weeks.

Players that are supposed to be upstanding professionals have let themselves down and let football down, and let Southgate down. So much so that even some sections of the press are wondering if Southgate is up to the job. Here is the man that led a very average England side to the semi-finals of the World Cup and the Nations League in its first edition. There is a lot of potential in this England side but Southgate ultimately might never get the chance to realise it, but he is not the major problem. The players are.

Not every player of course, but once one player makes off the pitch mistakes it just seeps into the squad. A laugh here, a jibe there. Harry Maguire the captain of the national side getting involved in a reported punch up in Greece with police, Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood arranging for two women to join them in a hotel, it all just harks back to tabloid heaven from the 1990s.

You don’t see continental and international players keep getting themselves in the headlines for the wrong reasons, scandal after scandal seems to follow England and football, if it isn’t the fans it’s the players- and they are supposed to be the role models.

Southgate has tried to play down what Foden and Greenwood did, and true they are young, 38 years between them, they will hopefully learn. But still. The problem that Southgate has is that they are two very good players and are important to the England set up. They will miss perhaps one game, like they did yesterday, the Denmark one.But Southgate should write them off for the next 3 games at least- punish them properly make them really think about what they have done.

Young players will make mistakes but it also showed a lack of respect for preparation for the Denmark game. Do they not care about the UEFA Nations League or representing their country? Would they have tried the same on had this been a knock out World Cup game?

Scandals followed the England team even when Southgate was a player, as a manager he is trying to advance the team and put them in a more professional light. But Maguire, Foden and Greenwood have sent his plans hurtling back to the drawing board faster than a janitor hitting the ground after being punched by the Rock. His plans are in tatters, and one suspects after next summers Euro’s Southgate could be departing early, sadly little has changed within the England set up, even on the surface that doesn’t look like the case, it seems as if the problems are very deep rooted.

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Manchester United 1-1 West Ham: The Red Devils are a point away from Champions League football

Following the recent defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals, Manchester United would have hoped to return back to winning ways and usual standards as they took an in-form West Ham side, who are three points above the relegation zone. However, that was not the case, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were unable to cause severe problems to a well organised David Moyes team.

Going into the game, the Red Devils were looking for nothing but the much needed three points, especially after Leicester City had lost to Tottenham Hotspur on the weekend whilst Chelsea face a difficult trip away to Liverpool. On the other hand, the Hammers main focus was to ensure they do not lose the fixture by a large number of goals, should they feel the force of United’s rapid attack.

Looking at the match as a whole, the hosts had just about dominated the possession of the game as many had expected, as they went on to achieve 57% possession of the ball and 192 passes in the attacking third compared to West Ham’s 85 successful passes in the final third area. Nonetheless, it was actually the away side that had shown to be more effective on and off the ball, in all honesty.

West Ham took the lead just before the half-time break, through Michail Antonio, who had very little to work with, but had the opportunity to give his team the lead from the penalty spot, which he calmly slotted down the middle of the goal. However, the visitor’s goal was cancelled out straightaway after the break, as Mason Greenwood worked a nice one-two phase with Anthony Martial near the penalty area, before lashing the ball low and into the corner of the net.

In the end, there was not many clear-cut chances for either side, to go on to taking the full three points and moving higher up the table. The 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening leaves Manchester United currently in 3rd place, whilst West Ham recent rise has taken them to 15th place.

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

Solskjaer’s lack of in-game management has to be questioned

Majority of the focus will be on Paul Pogba giving the penalty away, the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Nemanja Matic performing poorly, or the lack of attacking contribution coming from the full-backs. However, the questions has to be raised on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s lack of in-game management, as he more or less cost his team two crucial points in a must-win game.

As majority of the starting line-up had looked fatigued, Solskjaer had failed to bring on individuals such as Daniel James, Diogo Dalot and Fred, who potentially could have provided the energy and positivity the team was missing throughout the match. Not only that, he made just two out of five changes during the game, with a full-back coming on for another full back and a forward for a winger, evidently showing that Solskjaer did not actually go all out for the much needed victory.

United should look no further for a defensive-midfielder than Declan Rice

Since signing a contract extension with the club in recent weeks, Nemanja Matic’s performances have instantly dropped to a level where he is taking too many touches on the ball, and is committing constant fouls in dangerous areas, just outside of the penalty box. Given that he is 31-years-old and is currently on his last legs, he is one player that should not be dependent on to perform at a high level and on a regular basis, leaving Solskjaer in an issue where he needs a new defensive-midfielder.

On that basis, the manager and the club do not need to look any further for a potential defensive-midfield signing other than Declan Rice, who has played a pivotal role in helping West Ham stay above the relegation zone and is proving to become more of a complete midfielder since the Premier League season has restarted. From his consistent tackles and interceptions to his types and range of passing, he seems to be the perfect player to provide solidity and balance to the midfield.

The Red Devils have a huge final on the last day of the season

With how the fixtures have resulted on Wednesday evening, it leaves Manchester United in third place and just above fourth-place Chelsea on goal difference, whilst Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City remain in fifth position. And on the final day of the Premier League season, Chelsea face a tough match at home to Wolves whilst Solskjaer’s men have a difficult away trip to King Power Stadium.

On Sunday afternoon, it will be all or nothing for the likes of Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester United, where all three teams will have to be at their very best, in order to play in the Champions League next season. The Red Devils and Solskjaer have worked a huge miracle to turnaround the race for a top four finish, as they were 14 points behind Leicester and 5 points behind Chelsea at the start of the year, but all that matters now, is the huge final fixture on the last day of the campaign.

Manchester United vs Southampton: Three key battles to look out for on Monday night football

Ahead of gameweek 35, Manchester United sit in fifth-place and are constantly pushing to take either Chelsea or Leicester City’s spot in the top four and will be taking on Ralph Hansenhuttl’s Southampton, who have been top notch since the season has restarted, having picked up 10 points out a potential 15, including important victories against the likes of Man City, Norwich and Watford.

Both clubs will be going into the game with their energy and confidence levels being really high, and will be hoping it stays the same until the season ends, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will only be satisfied with finishing the campaign in the top four position whilst the Saints will look to push for a spot in the top half of the Premier League table, as they are currently five points behind Tottenham.

It’s time to look at the three vital battles that could help to decide the fate of this huge fixture…

Mason Greenwood vs Ryan Bertrand

Over the last couple of weeks, the attention has been on the likes of Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes, and Paul Pogba, however, 18-year-old Mason Greenwood is the one that has stolen majority of the newspaper headlines with his playing style and knack for goals. In 1000 minutes of Premier League football this season, the forward who is currently playing on the right flank, has gone on to impressively achieve nine goals and one assist, with four league games still remaining.

Greenwood will be in for a close and tight encounter with Ryan Bertrand, who is Southampton’s main player at left-back and is known to be one of the side’s best defenders, as well as an attacking option that constantly runs up and down the left flank. With how the Saints are seen as a team that presses high up the pitch, Bertrand will have to make sure that he does not commit himself too much pass the half way line, otherwise, Greenwood will pounce with his pace and decision making.

Danny Ings vs Victor Lindelof

It’s no secret that Southampton’s most important and valuable player in the final third of the pitch is none other than Danny Ings at the moment, an individual that has helped Ralph Hansenhuttl’s men with 19 goals and three assists in 34 league appearances, allowing the team to be far away from the relegation zone and close to the middle of league table. Not only that, his intelligent movement on and off the ball, unique ability to bring his team-mates into the game has been second to none.

Danny Ings will aim to continue his fantastic form against United and will hope to reach a personal aim of 20 Premier League goals in a single season, which he has been unable to complete since playing in the top tier of English football from the 2014/15 campaign. The centre-forward will be up against Victor Lindelof, who has recently been proving to be inconsistent and a liability to the backline, as he does not have the physicality or the ideal pace to keep on top of many strikers.

Bruno Fernandes vs Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

Now, focusing on the key battle in midfield, with United expected to dominate possession and look to bypass the Southampton high press, the focus and attention will be on Bruno Fernandes, who is on the form of his life and is aiming to continue working on his goals and assists. Since his arrival to Old Trafford, the playmaker has 13 goal involvements in 10 Premier league appearances, having the joint-most by a player in their first 10 games in the competition’s history alongside Mick Quinn.

Meanwhile for Southampton, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will be sitting as the deepest midfielder just ahead of the backline, as he will be expected to complete the much needed interceptions and tackles as well as help the team in the build-up play going forward. The 24-year-old has constantly proved himself to be an essential team member within Ralph Hansenhuttl’s system, even when he came under a vast amount of criticism from his own supporters and the English media, which has helped him to become the complete player he is today.

Manchester United are currently the best side in the Premier League, this is why

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in charge of Manchester United he makes it very hard for critics to get on his back. One of those reasons of course is that he is so friendly, the guy smiles even after a bad game, just imagine Sir Alex Ferguson doing the same.

But the main reason it is so hard to tear Manchester United apart is that they are not a bad team, or at least not as bad as many would have you think. True Solskjaer has had his downs with the club and some of their form over two periods have merited a few whispers of ‘you’re getting the sack in the morning’. And just when you think everything is going wrong, he motivates the players, gets the best out of them and they start winning games, but by winning that is scoring plenty of goals and going on good 1-2 month runs. United are currently doing that right now.

It could well be that the Red Devils fail to qualify for the Champions League for next season, though they are currently giving that a very good shot. But on form they are the best side in the Premier League- we should expect Solskjaer to be picking up manager of the month anytime soon.

Along with Newcastle they are the only team not to have lost since the league restarted, not many could have predicted that. And United would be in 1st place on form collecting 13 points from 15. They are scoring goals too, 11 in their last 3 games and have just come off of the back of beating Bournemouth 5-2. Whisper it but everything is feeling like Ferguson/United.

But why is this, what has changed at United? Because if they were playing this good earlier in the season they would be where Chelsea are now and possibly challenging for 2nd position.

Here are three key players that have upped their game:

Mason Greenwood

Greenwood has displaced Daniel James and he is scoring goals, setting up play and his pace is fantastic. He is a real find, just look at his solo goal a few days ago against Brighton. Solskjaer had this to say about him: “You can see clearly that he’s maturing and improving. He’s only 18 still so we will see more from him. I’ve said it throughout the year that as long as we can get him faced up in and around the box he’ll create chances for us. But in this game his hold-up play and his link up play and general movement was fantastic as well.” The scary part is that he is only 18. Could be a future legend with the club.


What a turnaround it has been for Fred in midfield. Last season and at the beginning of this one he was playing so bad that memes were being made of him and cruelly he was becoming a laughing stock. Maybe though all Fred needed was the right manager to guide him and he has been very very good especially this year.

Bruno Fernandes 

Potentially Bruno Fernandes could be Manchester United’s best buy since Cristiano Ronaldo. He has been superb for the club, a new signing and already carrying the team. A born leader and he should be setting the stage alight for many years to come. In just 9 league games for United he has scored 6 goals. It is obvious he will be a regular fixture.

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Manchester United 5-2 Bournemouth: The three key things we learnt as the Red Devils demolished the Cherries

Ahead of gameweek 33, with only six games remaining in the Premier League, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United faced a straightforward fixture against Bournemouth at Old Trafford, where the visitors are struggling in the relegation zone and have one of the poorest away forms in the league.

Going into the game, majority of people were expecting the game to be one-sided in favour of the hosts, as they remain unbeaten in all competitions since the end of January and are looking to finish in the top four for the first time since the 2017/2018 season. On the other side, for Eddie Howe’s men, the main objective for the team is to avoid the relegation drop and be in the Premier League for another year, which could be decided on the final day of the campaign with how things are going.

As predicted, the hosts were in full control of the game from the first second of the game to the final whistle, as they went on to achieve 69% possession of the ball and 172 passes in the attacking third compared to Bournemouth’s 57 successful passes in the final third. Though, the visitors were able to play some good football in patches and periods, compared to other teams that have faced a difficult trip to Old Trafford, which allowed them to score two goals through Junior Stanislas and Joshua King.

In the end, the sheer brilliance and pure class that Manchester United had in midfield and in attack was too much for the Cherries to handle, as the game finished off at 5-2 in favour of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team. The Red Devils remain in fifth place, as Chelsea and Leicester City were able to win their respective games, whilst Bournemouth are in 19th position and a single point away from safety.

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

The individual mistakes at the back have to be ironed out

For sure, the focus will be on the amount of goals that the side had scored and how they responded after going down by a goal in the 15th minute of the game, but the individual mistakes that were made by the likes of David De Gea, Eric Bailly and Harry Maguire have to be seriously considered. The side have conceded a number of cheap goals from the 33 goals they have conceded so far this season, which could play a pivotal role on if they finish in the top four at the end of July or not.

From Maguire leaving his legs wide open to be nutmegged before De Gea was beaten at his front post once again, to Bailly giving away a penalty with an unnecessary handball just inside of the penalty box, quite a few concerning errors were made against a struggling Premier League side. Fortunately, no further mistakes were made to allow the visitors to push for a magical comeback.

Given the amount of money the club have spent in recent years as well as how they are currently interested in players such as Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish, Solskjaer will be looking to go all out on attempting to challenge for the league title next season, and in order for this to be achieved, the monumental mistakes that are made by the goalkeeper and the defence have to be ironed out.

Rashford, Martial and Greenwood cannot stop scoring at the moment

Towards the start of the campaign, United were badly struggling for goals and were relying on the penalties they were receiving, with both Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba on the sidelines whilst all the pressure and expectations were solely on Marcus Rashford’s shoulders. Six to nine months later, along with the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, the strikers simply cannot stop scoring at the moment.

Martial, Rashford and Mason Greenwood have been scoring goals left, right and centre since the season had restarted a couple of goals, as United have scored 12 goals in their last four Premier League games. And when looking at the statistics of the strikers up until now, Greenwood has 15 goals in all competition, Martial and Rashford have 20 each in all competition, which clearly shows that the club and the manager will never be dried up of goals for the next couple of years or so.

Manchester United’s dominance remains high against the struggling sides

Under the likes of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, Manchester United had this rising issue of the fact that they would find it difficult to confidently beat the mid-table teams or the struggling sides in the relegation zone and put at least a couple of goals past them. Now, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in charge, the side are able to continuously play a strong starting line-up, who have the bond and chemistry with one another to be at their best and be in full control of the opposition.

As long as the team are able to continue in this same, professional and dominant manner from now till the end of the season, then both Solskjaer and Manchester United should have no problems at all in picking up maximum points and finishing in the top four. Not only that, with how the rule of five substitutions is being used, it allows the Red Devils to have the ideal individuals to bring on from the bench, whether they need to defend a lead or bring on an a player to quickly turn the game around.

Brighton 0-3 Manchester United: The three key things we learnt as the Red Devils sink the Seagulls

Ahead of gameweek 32, with only seven games remaining in the Premier League, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United faced a difficult trip away to the Amex Stadium to take on Brighton, where the visitors have not been able to take a point away from the hosts for the past two seasons.

Going into the game, Graham Potter’s Brighton were intending on continuing their unbeaten run since the campaign had resumed, as they currently sit in 15th place and just six points above the relegation zone. On the other hand, for United, who aiming for a top four finish, they have to make an attempt in turning around their results away from home to increase their chances of finishing above Leicester City and Chelsea, who have been resting in third and fourth place for a long time.

The visitors, as expected, were in full control of the game from the first second of the game to the final whistle, as they went on to achieve 63% possession of the ball and 132 passes in the attacking third compared to Brighton’s 49 successful passes in the final third. However, the hosts were able to hit some stride into the match once it was game over, and when both Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba were taken off the pitch, but they were lacking the cutting edge of quality to score a goal.

At the end of the day, the Red Devil’s quality in each department was just too much for Brighton to handle, at the fixture was simply game, set and match ten minutes before the hour mark. United remain in fifth position, and will be hoping that the sides above them drop points over the coming days, whilst Brighton will be aiming to pick up three to five points over the next few fixtures to ensure they are safe from the relegation zone and are in the Premier League next season.

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

Bruno Fernandes continues to prove that he is the real deal

Notching five goals and three assists in eight Premier League appearances, Bruno Fernandes continues to prove to the English media and the rival supporters that he is the real deal, the same people who had thought that his style of play would be found out sooner rather than later. As his partnership alongside Paul Pogba carries on to develop and improve day by day, the duo have helped the team to seriously dominate possession and create constant chances for the attackers.

Since the arrival of the Portuguese international at the end of January, the side have incredibly gone on to be unbeaten in 15 games in all competition, where his contributions in the attacking phase has been top notch, along with his work rate and inspirational mentality. Bruno went on to scoring two crucial goals in each half of the game against Brighton, where both goals were cleverly taken, with the first one being just outside of the penalty box and the second one being a first-time volley.

Mason Greenwood is on the rise, as he takes Daniel James’ spot

At the age of 18, Mason Greenwood has just under 900 minutes of Premier League game time so far this season, and he already has six goals and one assist to his name. Being regarded as a youngster that is rapidly on the rise, he is starting to be seen as a player that has more potential than both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, and the best part about it is the fact that he is not fazed or worried about these remarks as he is more than happy to reach the expectations that have been set.

Currently playing as a right-sided winger, Greenwood has been bonding well with the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba, especially in a position that he is not familiar of. On top of that, his pressing high up the pitch, ability to linkup with his teammates, dribbling style with both feet deserves to be praised highly, as he is offering a huge amount of threat in many ways for Solskjaer and United, compared to Daniel James, who looks to be very inconsistent and predictable.

The Red Devils are finally starting to turn their away form around

If Ole Gunnar Solskajer and Manchester United are seriously looking to push for a top four finish, then they will have to turn their away form around instantly and before it is too late. As things currently stand, the side have the seventh best record away from home, with even the likes of Leicester, Southampton and Wolves achieving more points than United when on the road.

When looking at United’s remaining fixtures away from home, they still have to go away to teams such as Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Leicester City, which will certainly not be straightforward as many would think. As long as Solskjaer is able to keep Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba at the top of their game and of the opposition too, with the attackers taking their chances when it matters the most, the team should find zero issues in picking up maximum points from the remainder of the games, let alone the three away fixtures they have from now till the end of the footballing season.

Man Utd 4-1 Newcastle: Ole’s men continue to keep their top four hopes alive

With Arsenal and Chelsea dropping points in their respective games whilst Liverpool take on Leicester City in gameweek 19, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had another opportunity to take the advantage of the situation as they faced a Newcastle side who have been struggling in the games away from home. The end outcome was no surprise given the differences of both teams.

Going into the Thursday evening match, Solskjaer would have expected a couple of goals as well as a straightforward victory, despite the side have been unable to breakdown the mid-table teams over the last couple of months. On the other hand, for Steve Bruce, even taking a point away from Old Trafford would have been more than enough, as Newcastle United sit confidently in tenth-place.

Looking at the game on a whole note, the hosts had dominated possession as expected and were the side that had produced more chances and completed shots on target. Meanwhile, the visitors had a few good moments early in the first half, especially on the counter-attack, but were constantly sat deep in their own half for the full match and were not successful in chasing and recovering the ball.

The first goal came for the away side, as the Red Devils lost the ball in the middle of the pitch, allowing the Magpies to counter effectively with a couple of passes as Matthew Longstaff slotted the ball past David De Gea and into the net. However, the visitor’s lead was cancelled out seven minutes later, as Anthony Martial’s shot on goal got a slight deflection by Martin Dubravka before going in.

Just over ten minutes later, Mason Greenwood pounced on a poor defensive error made by Newcastle and scored a peach of a goal, scoring his third league goal of the season. It didn’t take long for the side to extend their lead, as Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s inch-perfect cross was met by the rising head of Marcus Rashford, who made no mistakes and headed the ball into the back of the net.

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 another mistake from Newcastle’s backline allowed Martial to latch onto the ball and run towards goal before bagging his second goal of the game. With the three points being more or less confirmed, Solskjaer made the ideal decision of bringing off both Martial and Rashford just after the hour mark, giving the duo a deserved rest ahead of the Burnley match.

In all honesty, the remainder of the match did not result in many chances created or shots completed on target, as the home side continued to recycle the ball well on both sides of the pitch whilst the visitors were accepting the inevitable outcome and did not want to leak anymore goals.

In the end, the result helps Manchester United to go up to seventh-place on 28 points, being just four points away from fourth-place Chelsea. Meanwhile, Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United still sit well in the middle of league, as they remain in tenth-place and seven points above the relegation zone.

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

Mason Greenwood is on the rise and is proving a point

For sure, it is still early days to look into the potential that Mason Greenwood has and the type of player that he could become, but one cannot deny the incredible confidence that oozes around him and how active he is on and off the ball. Despite the forward playing out of position and on the right flank, he was still able to get into the game through his movement and demand of wanting the ball.

Although it was his stunning goal that highlighted his performance against Newcastle, he still managed to show what else he is able to offer, as he produced two key passes, 84% successful pass rate and great energy when it came to winning the ball back. With how impressive Greenwood has been in recent weeks, it may leave Solskjaer with no choice but to start him from now on as a regular starter.

Turning Old Trafford into a fortress is a key for any type of success

One of the ongoing problems for Manchester United has been their record at Old Trafford, as a number of oppositions have come to the ground in great confidence that they have the possibility of walking away with a result. After beating Newcastle, the Red Devils have now achieved 19 points in 10 home games, which is simply not good enough for a side that are looking to finish in the top four.

The side may have the fifth best record at home in the league, however, it’s the results and the dominant performances in the home games that progress the team to become a collective that are prepared to challenge for the league and in other competitions. Until Old Trafford does not become a fortress once again, any prediction about the club’s long-term success has to be instantly ruled out.

Individual defensive errors from the Magpies bailed out the Red Devils

The main focus will be on the convincing victory and the couple of goals that were scored, however, it could have been a long evening for the Red Devils at Old Trafford if it weren’t for the defensive mistakes that were produced by the Magpies. From Dubravka’s error for the first, Fabian Schar giving the ball away for the second and finally, Sean Longstaff completing a poor back pass for the fourth and final goal, these moments could have been managed more effectively by the individuals.

There is no negatives to take away from a result like this, but United have to be proactive and constantly creative when dominating possession against a low-block side, as not many teams will give away the ball with ease and make mistakes defensively like Newcastle did. They did end the match on three big chances created and ten shots on target, though, Solskjaer’s men have to show that they have too much quality for the opposition rather than winning games through defensive blunders.

Solskjaer and Manchester United have to show the much needed consistency

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been managing the club for just over a year, and despite the lack of quality and squad depth that is available, he is still trying to find the right consistency that can guide the team forward. At the moment, even the Old Trafford faithful cannot predict which United side will show up at the next game, which does sum up the up and down season they are experiencing.

With the team facing the likes of Burnley, Arsenal, Norwich City and Liverpool over the next couple of weeks, United have to start showing a mean streak or a good run of victories in order for them to keep their hopes of finishing in the top four alive. Looking at the season up until now, they have been able to win two league games in a row on only one occasion, which would make a lot of people believe that they do not have the quality or consistency to achieve Champions League football.

Man Utd 1-1 Everton: Back to square one for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Duncan Ferguson’s men pick up a positive result in another big game

Following Chelsea’s defeat at home to Bournemouth on Saturday as well as Wolves and Arsenal respectively taking on Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City on Super Sunday, it gave Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a huge opportunity of moving towards the top four if they could beat an Everton side that looks completely revived under coach Duncan Ferguson.

Going into the game, Solskjaer would have been full focus on achieving the three points and would not have been too worried about the opposition given their injury issues, with a potential victory pushing them to just two behind fourth-place Chelsea. Meanwhile, for Duncan Ferguson, he would be taking it game by game as the coach of Everton, as he aims to help the Toffees to climb up the league title once again before they are in a good position to find the right manager for the club.

In regards to the game as a whole, the hosts had predictably controlled most of the possession and were able to convincingly attempt more than 20 shots throughout the whole game. On the other hand, the visitors were able to cause a few problems of their own through the aerial presence and pace that was offered in midfield and attack, catching out United’s defence from time to time.

United began on the front foot, and were able to produce a few good half chances but were not converted by the likes of Daniel James or Jesse Lingard. Just after those moments went begging, the game became more end-to-end, which started to favour the visitors as only David De Gea, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof were in their own half, allowing Everton’s attack to constantly be alert.

The Toffees shockingly took the lead in the 36th minute of the game, as a corner was sent in from Leighton Baines which was not punched away successfully by David De Gea, who was actually impeded by Dominic Calvert-Lewin, before the ball had flicked off Victor Lindelof and into the net. In all honesty, a goal was coming for the Ferguson’s men, as United were constantly giving the ball away, failing to clear the ball out from the danger areas and could not string a couple of passes.

After the half-time break, Solskjaer’s young boys continued to dominate possession of the ball and especially in the Everton’s half of the pitch, but were lacking the much needed quality to create the clear-cut chances and to get onto the end of them too. And in the meantime, it was the defensive quality of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire that was on display, as they did more than enough in preventing the opposition from doubling their lead and forcing more misery on the Red Devils.

However, after bringing on Mason Greenwood from the bench for Jesse Lingard along with a couple of tactical tweaks, United began to once again pose a huge threat to Everton’s backline and to Jordan Pickford. It didn’t take long for the substitute to make an important impact, 12 minutes later in the 77th minute, as he picked up the ball from Daniel James just near the penalty box before lashing it past the goalkeeper and into the back of net, as the whole of Old Trafford wildly erupted.

In the last ten minutes of the game, neither side had the ideal urgency to look for the much needed second and winning goal, as both teams settled for a draw and with the points shared out. Looking at the Premier League table, Manchester United now drop to sixth-place with Jose Mourinho’s Spurs going ahead of them whilst Everton sit in 16th place, just three points above the relegation zone.

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

Solskjaer needs a plan to beat the mid-table teams

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has proven himself against the big teams so far this season, where his side have been able to dictate the game from deep and constantly counter-attack with full success. Though, it’s his record against the teams that are in the middle of the table that have let him down, which will prevent his team from finishing in the top four and from progressing forward as a whole.

So far this season, the Red Devils have lost to Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Newcastle whilst drawing to teams such as Aston Villa, Everton and Southampton, the types of games which they would have won a year ago. The questions will be raised about the player’s mentality and mindset, as they were really sloppy on the ball and were not pressing the opposition constantly enough, something that would not have occurred if they played against Chelsea or Manchester City.

United are desperately in need of a creative playmaker

When looking at the games that are played against the mid-table teams, the side are missing a quality number ten, in other words a creative playmaker, someone who can link the midfield to attack and can become the heartbeat of the team. This is what the noisy neighbours have in Kevin De Bruyne, someone who is seen as one of the best players in the league and in Europe, who has the capability of creating chances from anywhere on the pitch and is right now on 10 league assists with 16 chances created.

It will not be easy for United to find a De Bruyne of their own, but the best playmaker they currently have is a 31-year-old Juan Mata, who is definitely passed his best and is not able to play on a regular basis due to his lack pace and energy. Until the board show their hunger in buying someone like Christian Eriksen or James Maddison in the January window, the side will be stuck with Fred and Scott McTominay, who do not have the intelligence and the creativity to be seen as a playmaker.

Mason Greenwood has to start in the league games soon or later

He may not have had the ideal introduction into the team and the opportunity to slowly integrate into the starting line-up, however, Mason Greenwood has delivered on nearly every occasion that Solskjaer has brought him on from the bench. From the games in the Europa League to now at home to Everton, the teenager has come up with the goods and has shown he deserves more game time.

With Anthony Martial and Daniel James being ineffective when it comes to breaking down a deep defensive block, the manager and the team could possibly have a solution in Greenwood, who has the high level of intelligence and the smooth movement on and off the ball as well as his remarkable finishing to be the game changer, which is something that United are poorly missing at the moment.