Why Manchester United’s main issues lie in midfield, where they lack quality and depth

Midfield

When looking at Manchester United’s squad, one can easily see the many options available in defence and attack, whilst the midfield looks completely thin and barely existent. It’s no secret to why the Old Trafford faithful are always nervous for when they see Ander Herrera or Paul Pogba suffer a knock or a minor injury, two midfielders who play a huge role for the side on and off the ball.

Also, the departure of Marouane Fellani half way through the season made very little sense, especially when a replacement did not come in and nor did someone get promoted from the youth academy. For sure, he wasn’t seen as a United type of player and may not suit the club’s style of play, but letting him go when the side are still in the Champions League and the FA Cup was a huge mistake.

The Belgian international clearly wasn’t the fastest, most intelligent or complete midfielder available within the squad, though, his aerial dominance and presence in the penalty box allowed the side to pose further danger to the opposition. Not only that, he has always got on with his job no matter what position he played in, whether it was as a defensive-midfielder or as an attacking one.

Focusing back onto the midfield department, Pogba is the only one that can influence the side’s midfield and attack to drive on forward, which is slightly down to the lack of tactics implemented by the manager but also the limited amount of midfielders to choose from. Due to this, the Red Devils do not have the total freedom to rotate around like Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City can.

Both Herrera and Nemanja Matic should be praised for how they constantly assist the defence and help to retain and recycle the ball, something that the duo complete at a high level and importantly when the full-backs are high up the pitch and out of position. Though, the former is not known to unlock the opposition’s defence from a deep position whilst the latter does not have the intelligence or pace to play as a box-to-box midfielder, which leaves everything to be done by Pogba himself.

Andreas Pereira and Fred have had their moments here and there to prove themselves, but did not make the most out of the limited opportunities they had so far, as they failed to take the game by the scruff of their neck and were unable to dominate the match and the opposition. On a serious note, the Brazilians should surely receive another match or two to potentially win over Solskjaer soon or later.

Having a quick look back at recent years, United did not do enough to replace the veteran Michael Carrick, an individual who had spent 12 years at Old Trafford and had gone on to become one of the most decorated English players of all time. When you deep the crucial experience and presence he brought to the side on and off the pitch, nearly everyone knew of how much he would be missed once he was gone.

Overall, Manchester United have decent quality and depth when it comes to defence and attacks, which can be easily reflected on when you see the likes of Alexis Sanchez Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly and Romelu Lukaku on the bench. Meanwhile, in the defeats to Manchester City away and Tottenham Hotspur at home, the side only had young Scott McTominay and summer signing Fred on the bench.

In the end, if United are aiming to compete in all competitions they take part in, they will need quality midfielders in the starting line-up and on the bench. The last time they had a good number of options to choose from, it was during the 2007-08 season under Sir Alex Ferguson, where they amazingly had Anderson, Darren Fletcher, Ji-Sung Park, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Owen Hargreaves.

What did Manchester United learn from loss against PSG?

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Manchester United headed into the first leg of the Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain with full confidence, given their fine form in recent weeks and the fact that Edinson Cavani and Neymar would be missing both legs of the Champions League tie. Though, all did not end well, as the visitors gave the host a football lesson and showed that they are levels ahead of the Red Devils.

Despite the questionable refereeing and the fact that the side lost Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard by the half-time break, Thomas Tuchel had his side setup in the most perfect way whist Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now showing that he is beginning to lack a Plan B. With how the first leg had come to an end, United’s chances of qualifying for the next round are very slim as PSG take two away goals and a win back to France.

Here are three valuable lessons that can be taken from the Champions League defeat…

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to desperately find a Plan B

For sure, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is enjoying the dream of managing Manchester United and has got the fans of Old Trafford bouncing again. However, he needs to come up with a backup idea or a different system for when things don’t go according to plan, especially with how Tuchel made some clever choices with his starting line-up and made sure to make tactical tweaks during the game.

It’s more or less obvious that the injuries to Lingard and Martial badly affected to how the side normally attempt to break on the counter through pure pace and movement, which led the full-backs and the midfielders to then take part in a more direct approach. Given the injury issues and the lack of midfield options, it may be ideal for Solskjaer to consider using the back-three/five setup, to restore balance from defence to attack.

In regards to a back-three/five formation, it would allow both Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot to push high up the pitch as the wing-backs whilst Paul Pogba potentially playing in an attacking role with freedom will do the side real good. As long as United’s main players in Ander Herrera, Marcus Rashford and Victor Lindelof are in high confidence and spirits, they should be able to play effectively and smartly within this style.

The midfield battle is where the match was won and lost

Without a doubt, Marco Verratti and Marquinhos stole the headlines at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, as the midfield duo controlled and dictated the game like it was a walk in the park. From keeping it simple with the short passes and the through balls into the wide players, to silencing each attack United could offer, they truly gave Gianluigi Buffon and Thiago Silva a quiet night at the back.

Meanwhile, for the hosts, it had seemed like only Pogba was attempting to guide the midfield and attack whilst the rest were waiting in the opposition’s half for something to happen. Herrera and Nemanja Matic provided assistance defensively and were able to support the backline when required, though, they struggled a lot when it came down to helping them push forward and to create constant chances.

The midfield department is an area that the hierarchy should look to aggressively strengthen, especially when the only options are Andreas Pereira, Fred and the young Scott McTominay from the bench. If one of the current midfield trio were to be injured or suspended for a number of games, then it can easily be stated that the backup choices would not be able to come up with the needed displays without any issues.

United’s board need to have a good look at the strength and quality between both squads

Majority of football supporters would have thought that the absence of Cavani and Neymar would make the fixture more balanced and would make the hosts the favourites, on the other hand, the visitors still had the likes of Angel Di Maria, Kylian Mbappe and surprisingly Dani Alves utilised as the front three. Straightaway, one can gain the understanding that PSG’s squad depth is no joke at all.

Though, when United’s two main attackers were forced off a half-time, Solskjaer could only bring on Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata, two players that are clearly past their best and are not able to take the side’s attack to the next level. On top of that, PSG’s quality in the starting line-up was incredibly outstanding, leaving Tuchel with no reasons for them to complete their third and final substitution.

Overall, PSG have the perfect squad to allow them to convincingly challenge in every competition they take place in, whilst United’s current team is just about enough to challenge for the top four spots as well as the Carabao Cup or FA Cup. If the board want to improve instantly, they will need to bring in a director of football, someone who can help when it comes to recruiting and scouting.

Manchester United: Who should start against Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford?

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With the Premier League fixtures of the weekend now coming to an end, the main focus now turns to the exciting and thrilling Champions League matches, where Manchester United will be taking on Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the knockout stages. Potentially, if all the build-up and hype meets its true expectations, the tie could go on to be one of the best ties of the whole competition.

The main news at this moment of time is that Neymar will be missing both legs of the tie, as he suffered an ankle ligament injury a few weeks ago and is not expected to return to training until the middle of April. Not only that, the Ligue 1 leaders have had to release more injury issues today, stating that both Edinson Cavani and Thomas Meunier are unavailable for the match on Tuesday.

Focusing back on the Red Devils, it’s time to look at who has become really reliable under Solskajer and are expected to start in what is the side’s most important fixture of the season. The selections for the midfield and forward department would seem straightforward and very easy to complete, whilst the defence would be a questionable one as they can become inconsistent here and there.

It’s time we look at United’s best XI that should start against Paris Saint-Germain…

David De Gea and the backline

Starting with the main individual between the goalposts, it is a no brainer that David De Gea will be starting a huge match like this rather than the back-up options in Lee Grant or Sergio Romero. At the heart of defence, it should be a partnership of Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof, who are simply he best centre-backs within the squad and are the only ones capable of helping the team out on and off the ball.

Meanwhile, the full-back position can be covered by Ashley Young, Diogo Dalot or even Luke Shaw, three players that are capable of defending at a decent level whilst attacking when required. Given that the opposition will have the likes of Angel Di Maria, Julian Draxler and Kylian Mbappe starting, it will be more than important to have the experienced ones in Shaw and Young as the full-backs.

David De Gea, Luke Shaw, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Ashley Young.

The consistent and dominant midfield

In the middle of the pitch, the usual midfield trio of Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba will be expected to carry out their duties on both sides of the pitch. This will have become clear and plain obvious over the last couple of weeks, especially with Marouane Fellaini leaving for China, whilst both Andreas Pereira and Fred have not been able to take their chances when provided.

Not long ago, Herrera and Matic were seen as two average and unconvincing midfielders under the managerial of Jose Mourinho, but are now regarded as the key pair in midfield that helps the side to defend in numbers and to retain possession of the ball effectively. On top of that, Pogba continues to control and dictate the side’s attack as well as produce the much needed goods in the final third of the pitch.

Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba.  

Pure movement and pace of the attacking trio

When Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford were rested on the bench ahead of the Fulham game, it was a clear indication that Solskjaer were giving the duo a well deserved break going into the Paris Saint-Germain fixture. The third and final player that should be completing the front three is none other than Anthony Martial, because he can amazingly produce something out of nothing and is really clinical in front of goal.

All three individuals have shown what they can do in attack, whether it’s through their intelligent movement off the ball or the way how they can dribble past two to three players within the matter of a few seconds. If they can start off the game at a quick pace and at a high tempo, then there should not be a problem at all of expecting two to three goals in the first leg at Old Trafford.

Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford.

Manchester United 2-2 Burnley: The winning run comes to an end for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Lindelof

Manchester United had a big chance to extend their run of winning matches to eight league games, with their next fixture being at home to Burnley, a side that have managed to go on their own winning run in recent weeks. With the side being only a few points behind the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea, it was important for the Red Devils to pick up the three points and in a secure manner.

Overall, United experienced one of those nights where nothing was going well for them in the final third of the pitch and they were struggling to create constant clear-cut chances. However, the home side unsurprisingly fell asleep on a few typical occasions, which allowed the visitors to pounce on the lack of concentration from the defenders to score twice in the second half through Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood.

Majority of the supporters thought the game was done and dusted, though, the introduction of Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard turned the momentum around as they began to play the ball at a high tempo and with attacking intent. United first pulled a goal back through a Paul Pogba penalty, and then minutes later, achieved the equaliser as Victor Lindelof scored his first goal for the football club.

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

United’s toughest battle yet at home

It is probably straightforward to say that the Burnley fixture has been Solskjaer’s biggest test so far this season, not due to the end outcome, purely because of the fact that Sean Dyche’s men were defending in their own half for majority of the match. Due to the opposition’s setup, it forced United to play in an uncomfortable way that led them to managing zero shots on target in the first half.

Not only that, Tom Heaton was having one of his best games, or else, the hosts would have easily scored a further two or three goals on another day. Since the arrival of the interim coach, United have played the likes of Burnley, Brighton, Bournemouth and Huddersfield at Old Trafford, which does mean that this stalemate has to be seen as a wakeup call for the manager and the players before the big fixtures kick in.

Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial were missed badly

Ole made a couple of changes and they were pretty much required, especially to make sure that the squad as a whole, received enough game time ahead of the make or break February fixtures. Against Burnley, the likes of Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata, Phil Jones and Romelu Lukaku were brought into the line-up, but none of them showed a single reason to why they deserve to remain in the starting XI in the long run.

On a serious note, Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial were badly missed, two individuals that have the pure ability and the quality to make the side simply tick in midfield and attack. When both players are not in the team, the side’s pressing off the ball is inconsistent and unorganised, whilst the side’s way of utilising possession is ineffective and really slow without the two main duo.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a lot to learn from his first league draw

Although the hosts dominated possession and created most of their best chances in the second half, they did not do enough in taking their shots and it led the visitors to grow in confidence as they took their limited chances on the counter-attack. By the 81st minute, Burnley seemingly had the three points secured and all they had to, was continue to defend in their own half for the final ten minutes of the game or so.

In the end, the comeback to come from 2-0 down to 2-2 will be seen as a huge positive turnaround, but it is still two points dropped and the chances of finishing in the top four slightly decreases. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking to improve his in-game management as well as his ability to quickly react to any rising issues, whether it’s the side failing to take their chances, or the opposition posing more threat towards the final stages of the game and are coming really close to scoring.

Three things that have improved since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are currently on an amazing winning streak of eight games in all competitions, which puts them just three points behind the top four spots in the Premier League as well as a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup. It’s been the ideal comeback since the departure of Jose Mourinho, however, the second half of the season is now kicking off in full effect.

Since the managerial change, a lot of things have changed on and off the pitch, allowing the side to revive their style of play and a footballing campaign that had seemed to be apparently over and buried in the grave. Not only that, even the Old Trafford faithful are enjoying the rollercoaster of a ride they are on at the moment, as they are simply taking each game and fixture one small step at a time.

Here are three things we have learnt about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United…

Best way to defend is to constantly attack

United’s defence has constantly been the side’s main weakness throughout the season so far, where they have lacked solidity as a unit and have been relying on David De Gea to come up with the vital goods in goal as usual. However, they have now learnt to dominate possession once again and to calmly play the ball around the opposition’s half, minimising the amount of times they have to defend in their own half.

Thanks to Solskjaer’s positive mindset and his ability to install a winning mentality into the squad, the team are able to show to the opposition that football is played the Manchester United way or the highway. The recent statistics are surely backing up these opinionated comments, as the side have managed to achieve 22 goals and have conceded on only five occasions, showing huge improvement defensively.

The mood within the dressing room has massively turned around

Throughout the final couple of weeks or so under the reign of Mourinho, the manager had lost the faith of his key players in Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba whilst dividing and tearing the dressing room into pieces. Once this had become evident within a number of league matches, there was a huge feeling within the fanbase that he would be relieved of his duties before the matter affected the club in the long run.

Now, six weeks into Solskjaer’s time at the football club he adores the most, he has re-assured the squad and had advised to each single one of them, of the important role they will be playing for the side from now until the season comes to an end. The positive feelings and the high spirits speaks for itself on the pitch and during the training sessions, where all the individuals are better and stronger as a whole than ever before.

Pressing high up the pitch with intensity can lead to positive outcomes

Believe it or not, football has massively changed over the last five to ten years, and one of the main factors to this has been the high pressing system that is utilised by the best teams in Europe. Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Manchester City are the perfect examples to use, three well-known sides that play effectively within this method that allows them to advance well in all the competitions they take part in season by season.

Looking back at United, it is important for the side to press in numbers and to understand when to press, purely because it is crucial to not run around like hooligans and it is a must to control the stamina levels during the match. With the likes of Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford pressing with intensity, whether it’s down the flanks or through the middle, a lot of the side’s goals have been by forcing the opposition into making mistakes and pushing them out of their comfort zone.

The curious case of Manchester United’s Eric Bailly

Bailly

When Manchester United completed the signing of centre-back, Eric Bailly, in the summer of 2016, it had seemed like the club’s diabolical presence of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in the backline had come to an end. Having left Villarreal and La Liga at such a young age, the Ivory Coast international moved to England as an unknown player who cost the biggest club in England a fee of £30million.

The player himself moved to a new country and a new league with very little expectations, given that he wasn’t seen as one of the best rising and upcoming centre-backs within Europe. However, the instant mentions about his athleticism, composure on the ball and his mentality of intercepting and tackling every ball, made it feel like a defender was coming in to fix the side’s ongoing issues.

Looking back at Bailly’s first season in the Premier League, it can be easily stated that he exceeded all opinions and predictions of how he would do, as he formed a really consistent and dominant partnership with the likes of Jones and Marcos Rojo throughout the campaign. In that very moment, the centre-back seemed like the perfect individual for the manager to form his defence around.

Although the main focus was on Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who arrived in the same window as Bailly did, it was the latter that instantly became a fans favourite and was seen as one of the signings of the season. Not only that, he came out on top when facing the likes of Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Sergio Aguero in his first campaign within English football.

Though, the unfortunate issues began in the following season with an unknown injury in October 2017, which kept him out on the sidelines until the first week of December as he missed five games altogether. At first, it was regarded as a minor setback that would keep him away from the side for four to six weeks, but he returned to training and a week later, he suffered a major ankle problem that would see him face his longest spell so far in his professional career as an injured player.

Within the period from October 2017 till February 2018, Bailly missed 26 important games and it could very well be the reason to why he has fallen down the pecking order over the last couple of months. Also, the defence has been mentioned as a department that is filled with flaws and weaknesses, so it’s not actually a surprise to see the backline being changed week in and out.

Also, the 26 games he missed should be seen as three quarters of a season that the 24-year-old spent on the sidelines, which has simply stagnated his development and has prevented himself from proving that he is one of the best centre-backs within England and Europe. If the long-term injury had not occurred, he would have potentially had another 15 to 20 league games of experience under his belt and he would now be playing alongside Victor Lindelof at the heart of defence on a regular basis.

On the other hand, Eric Bailly still has a lot to learn given that he has a tendency to lose focus in the matter of seconds and can frustratingly be seen as a red card waiting to happen. If the former manager, Jose Mourinho, who has a history when it comes to improving young and upcoming defenders, cannot help take the centre-back to the next level, the question has to be seriously asked on what needs to be done, in order to make the individual become consistent and defensively dominant again.

Overall, the majority of Manchester United supporters and the Old Trafford faithful know how brutal and talented Eric Bailly is, someone who is not afraid of putting his head where most would not even confidently put their feet into the challenge. And in the end, all he may need is more game time alongside Lindelof under a manager that has an actual footballing system, or a defensive coach that can kind-heartedly assist him on and off the pitch to become a more complete and perfect centre-back.

Manchester United 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s winning streak continues

Rashford

As the Manchester United supporters and the Old Trafford faithful enjoy the rollercoaster of a ride they are currently experiencing under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the side’s next league game was against Brighton & Hove Albion at home, a team that have picked up more points at home than away so far this season. With Arsenal and Chelsea facing one another in the evening fixture, it was more than crucial that the Red Devils picked up the much need three points and also in a comfortable manner.

Overall, United had a perfect first half performance, where they managed to take a healthy lead into the half-time break with the important goals coming from Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba. Though, the last 30 minutes of the game should be seen as a reality check for the manager and the players, as the visitors pulled back a goal through Pascal Gross and a couple of chances to get the equaliser too.

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

Marcus Rashford comes up with the goods again

Since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Marcus Rashford has been one of the few players within the squad that has benefitted from the 45-year-old Norwegian international’s presence as the club’s caretaker manager. The instant progress has been more than obvious over the last couple of weeks, where the forward has managed to become more clinical and proactive in the final third of the pitch.

Rashford is currently on five goals and one assist in his last six league appearances, and he has more or less been the main reason to why Romelu Lukaku has been experiencing a lot of time on the bench. If the rising star from Wythenshawe continues to develop and improve to a consistent level, he could potentially become the 20-goal-a-season striker that the current United side badly needs.

Ander Herrera came up with a Man of the Match performance

Ander Herrera is one of those types of midfielders that gets the job done without any complaints or any excuses at all. From intercepting play and tackling the opposition to moving the ball at a quick level, he produced another top notch performance on both sides of the pitch. With how he is playing at the moment, there is no chance that he will be leaving the club in the summer on a free transfer.

Focusing back onto the last 30 minutes of the game, Herrera’s role quickly became into a defensive and safe minded one, which allowed the team to survive some tough moments in their own half until the final whistle. Time and time again, the dominant displays that the former Athletic Club player produces must make one truly think he has been playing in England for his whole life.

The second half was a huge lesson for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer personally

Although the hosts dominated possession and created a couple of chances in the second half, they did not do enough in taking their shots and it led the visitors to grown in more confidence as they began to have more space and time on the ball. In the 72nd minute, Brighton created a chance out of nothing, which was calmly taken Pascal Gross, who placed it perfectly into the top corner of the net.

On top of that, the Seagulls had a chance or two in the final moments to seize a crucial point away from home, but the end product was not there when it was needed the most. With how relieved the Manchester United players and the manager himself were once the game to an end, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking to improve his in-game management as well as his ability to quickly react to the ever so growing and rising threat that is offered by the opposition in the late stages of the game.

Four things we truthfully learned about Manchester United in 2018

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The majority of Manchester United supporters will be hoping that the New Year is filled with memorable moments as well as one or two trophies. 2018 as a whole will be one to forget for the Red Devils, given that a lot of unforgettable things had happened, from the unconvincing transfer windows to the disappointment in the Champions League and the defeat in the FA Cup final.

On top of that, the Old Trafford faithful had to bare the appalling and dire football that was played under Jose Mourinho, which resulted in a number of points being dropped home and away during the season. Due to this, the board made a huge managerial decision and are now looking to get back to their best, before they can start to challenge for the league title and the domestic trophies again.

Here are the four fascinating things we learned throughout the year of 2018…

A director of football is badly needed

With the likes of Andrea Berta, Fabio Paratici and Paul Mitchell being reportedly linked as the new director of football at Manchester United, the board and Ed Woodward are starting to understand the importance of having an individual that has the football knowledge to help take the football club to the next level. If this was to happen within the next couple of months, the next permanent manager of the team will enjoy the presence of someone who has positive plans for the long run.

Most vitally, a director of football will help to target players in a simple yet effective way, which will allow the club to utilise their money properly rather than splashing it out on midfielders or attackers who have not proved themselves at the top level. The revival of Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla over the last five to ten years have been because of the board’s capability to bring in a sporting director, who can bring forward a controllable philosophy that everyone can follow.

Jose Mourinho was the virus, not Paul Pogba

For a large number of months in 2018, it had seem like the gloomy days and painful nights at Old Trafford were solely due to the rift between Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba, two individuals who could not get along with one another and could not put their differences aside for the sake of the football club. With the situation becoming worse and worse, the Premier League pundits and Manchester United supporters felt one of them had to leave before it affected the team as a whole.

In the end, the hierarchy felt enough was enough and chose to relieve the manager of his duties, which now happens to be a great decision as the side are now playing their football with more confidence and freedom as well as Pogba himself being the heartbeat of the midfield. Had the board decided to back the manager and get rid of the player, they would have potentially looked very stupid in a year’s time, where the Frenchman could be playing the best football of his career at Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain whilst they are stuck with a declining and finished Mourinho.

David De Gea has constantly been saving United’s defence

Over the last couple of years or so, both Louis Van Gaal and Mourinho set United up in a defensive and counter-attack way, which made it look like the side were defensively a solid unit whilst being just about clinical on the other side. However, the side’s defensive displays in recent years have been largely exaggerated due to the brilliance of David De Gea, a goalkeeper that comes up with a number of saves with ease on a regular basis, which has made him to be recognised as the best shot-stopper within the Premier League as well as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, if not the best.

The defence has to be seen as a weak department and an area that needs shuffling around, especially given that the likes of Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have been playing at the club for far longer than necessary and have simply failed to reach the potential they were expected to meet. If the board want to make a statement and are looking to show ruthlessness, then they will be willing to seriously revamp the backline over the summer transfer window.

The future looks bright for the Red Devils on and off the pitch

For sure a lot of money has been spent from after the Sir Alex Ferguson era up until now, though, it cannot be kept as a secret that the current squad is filled with a number of talented players. They maybe yet to prove themselves as Champions League or Premier League winners, but the important individuals such as Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba, Victor Lindelof as well as a couple of others who have shown moments here and there are ready to take this football club forward.

Overall, it is impossible to see United fall far away from the top sides within England and Europe, as they have the financial resources to aggressively buy in every transfer window. On the other hand, it is critical for the club to start reflecting and showing their dominance on the pitch, otherwise, their chances of creating another successful legacy decreases season by season. In the end, there is simply no doubt that the Red Devils will be bouncing back and return to the throne that was once theirs.

Manchester United: Three reasons why Jose Mourinho deserved to get sacked

mourinho-driving

When Manchester United made the announcement that Jose Mourinho has been relieved of his duties, it did not come up as a huge and total surprise, as the side were failing to pick up consistent victories in the Champions League and most importantly in the Premier League. Also, it had become really obvious that the dressing room were losing their confidence and full faith in the manager.

On top of that, the regular stalemates and defeats in the league left the board and Ed Woodward with no choice but to sack the 56-year-old Portuguese international before the matters on and off the pitch had got worse. The important people in the hierarchy have started to learn when enough is simply enough, something they did not understand during the David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal era.

Here are three important factors to why Jose Mourinho was sacked…

The results in all competition were not consistent enough

For majority of the Manchester United supporters, they started to give up on the manager after they were knocked out by La Liga side, Sevilla, in the Champions League knockout stages of the previous season. Deemed as a one of the easiest sides to face ahead of the fixtures, the former Chelsea and Real Madrid coach treated them as one of the best teams in Europe and chose to nullify the opposition from start till end rather than focusing on his side’s strengths, which led to the awful but expected outcome.

Looking back at his time at Old Trafford as a whole, Mourinho failed to bring the fortress reputation and status to United’s stadium, which it was well known as during Sir Alex Ferguson’s 27 years at the club. Given the amount of success he achieved during his time at Chelsea, Inter Milan, Porto and Real Madrid, he was unable to take the biggest football club in the Premier League back to the pinnacle of English football and allowed many of the lower sides to take a lot of valuable points off the team.

Failed to adapt and adjust to the current style of English football

A lot of the managers that have managed in the top-flight of English football for the last five to ten years are starting to be left behind from the rest, and it’s mainly because of the fact that the style of football is constantly changing but only a small amount of coaches have had the audacity to make tactical tweaks and small changes. In the end, only a few managers have survived over the last few seasons whilst the rest have left.

The main examples are Arsene Wenger in the previous campaign and now recently Jose Mourinho, two well-known managers who were once upon a time controlling and dominating the Premier League for a quite a number of years. However, due to their lack of capability to amend their footballing methods and their style of play, they are now being overtaken by the likes of Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola, who are playing football at an aesthetically pleasing level within all competitions.

Constant issues with the dressing room and especially the key players

Now, it’s time to look at the very main reason to why Mourinho was given the sack, which was the bizarre treatment he showed towards his key players whilst the ones that were his favourites were given a free pass to be selected in the starting line-up. Over the last year or so, the way he treated the players in Anthony Martial, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba made no sense at all and it was simply painful to see.

Despite spending a large amount of money since moving to Old Trafford in May 2016, he has constantly relied on the signings that were made by Moyes and Van Gaal rather than the ones he brought to the club. Also, Bailly and Pogba arrived at the club in Mourinho’s first transfer window and had an impressive season under him, yet both individuals have been treated poorly by himself and were given the cold shoulder.

Cardiff 1-5 Manchester United: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men kick off in winning ways

Ole

Following the departure of Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken over as the interim manager of Manchester United with the likes of Kieran McKenna, Michael Carrick and Mike Phelan as his coaches and assistant manager. Given with how the season has gone so far for the club, they will be looking to regain their confidence and footballing style to end the campaign on a high note.

The Cardiff fixture came at a good time, where the visitors were able to control and dominate the game whilst scoring a number of goals and picking up the much needed three points. Meanwhile, the hosts will surely be looking back at the poor defensive display they produced and will aim to improve on both sides of the pitch, especially if they want to finish above the relegation zone.

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

United can confidently score a number of goals

Before today, you would have to go back to Sir Alex Ferguson’s final match as the club’s manager in May 2013, in order to remember the last time the side have scored five goals in a league match. Between then and now, the likes of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have failed to set their team up in an attacking mindset, which is the reason to why the goals have dried up.

When being managed by a defensive-minded manager or a coach that prefers to constantly counter-attack, the team spend less time in the opposition’s penalty box and it leads to only a couple of shots on target. However, the Saturday evening fixture away at the Cardiff City Stadium, evidently showed that the squad is filled with a number of attacking players, but they have to be provided with the ideal freedom to play in their own way which would follow on with the number of goals per game.

Jesse Lingard comes up with the goods in the final third

A lot of Manchester United supporters have began to question what Jesse Lingard offers to the side over the last couple of weeks, mainly due to the fact that he is comfortable in playing within a number of positions but has not started consistently in one role. For instance, he has been utilised as a right-winger, central attacking midfielder and as part of a three-man midfield so far this season.

On the other hand, the 26-year-old produced a relentless performance as he completed two goals and one assists for when his side needed him the most. Not only that, but he was one of the side’s best players of the evening if not the best, as he was constantly roaming around Cardiff’s half of the pitch whilst helping the team to progress the ball forward at a high tempo and at lightning pace.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should not be judged anytime soon

The current focus is without a doubt on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, a former Manchester United player who is now living the dream of managing a football club that he had won the league with on seven occasions and also delivered the winning goal in the 1998-99 Champions League final. Since his arrival back at the club, he has instantly helped the squad to start playing towards their potential and with the qualities they have in midfield and attack.

Overall, it’s quite early to judge if he has had a positive or negative effect on the side and it would be ideal to review the matter once he has managed the team for seven matches. At the end of the day, the Old Trafford faithful will assume that a top four finish is out of cards and the chances of winning the Champions League is highly unlikely, so the aim from now till the end of the season is to revive the side’s attacking and thrilling football before the board and Ed Woodward chooses the club’s next permanent manager.