Has Man United Actually Done A Good Job To Compete Next Season?
Having spent big cash on Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire this summer (British players, of course. Always British players), Manchester United begin their Premier League season against Frank Lampard's Chelsea this Sunday. With a new defence, and a whole lot of doubts everywhere else, what can fans expect from Ole's side this season?
Somehow, last season, Man Utd managed to have a very decent campaign, achieving a surprising 6th place in the Premier League (Probably, thanks to getting rid of Mou and putting Ole in his place. Nice job on that one, Ed). Yet, their late-season collapse as soon as Ole Gunar Solskjaer signed a 3-year contract as United's permanent manager (Oh, well...) is perhaps not the greatest sign of all.
So, can Ole prove this 2019/20 season that he's the right man for the job? (and maybe, just maybe, the right man for the club's future?) Right now, he hasn't done a bad job this transfer market, as he has strengthened one of the team’s main weaknesses: Its defence (Even if he needed to spend over £130 million to do so, for... ONLY TWO PLAYERS!!??)
It has clearly been another challenging summer for United, but with their record-breaking £80M deal to sign Harry Maguire (Leicester City) in addition to the £50M signing of Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace), their hope is that they have significantly bolstered their defence for the long term. I believe like anyone else who likes this sport that the prices paid for both defenders have been a tad out there, but, at the same time, "extreme circumstances call for extreme measures", so there can be no doubt that these reinforcements were necessary. Last season, the Red Devils conceded a club-record 54 goals in the PL, more than Palace and Newcastle, and nearly twice as many as in the previous season. Clearly, United’s defence has been a s*** hole for a while.
So, is Maguire the right man for the heart of Man Utd's defensive overhaul? (I don't talk about Bissaka because so far he has done well in pre-season). It's true that the English defender arrives with a burgeoning reputation (Even Pep wanted him for Manchester City!? HE'S THE REAL DEAL THEN!!), however, having only played for three seasons in the Premier League and never featured in a European competition, he'll really have a hard task to prove he's better than the likes of De Ligt, Pique, or even Van Dijk... Cough, not a chance!
Wan-Bissaka and Maguire are much better than Shaw, Rojo, Young, and even Phil Jones, so, Manchester United fans... Have your hopes up, OK?
Now, United's problems were not only restricted to their defence last season. In fact, it could be argued that a lack of protection in front of the backline was an even bigger issue: Its "not-so-compact" midfield.
Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Nemanja Matic, Marouane Fellaini, a gone Ander Herrera, and a Real Madrid fan-girl a.k.a Paul Pogba... It doesn't look like a bright future for United's midfield at the moment
Still, Paul Pogba, "United's main star?", made important contributions last season, finishing as the Red Devil's top scorer and top assist-maker, but a lack of consistency was a serious issue and he has made no secret of his desire to leave the club this summer. Ole is keen on keeping him, however, even if the Frenchman finally does stay, it would be a challenge to coax consistency and defensive focus from him. That's why, in the meanwhile, he's giving chances to new young players such as Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and James Garner... No clue who those guys are!
For sure, that's not going to help the team in the short term. A team like this really needs a key figure in the midfield, and, seriously, I don't think Mata, Nemanja nor "Big Afro" Fellaini can do something to make a complete midfield... Not even a nibble one I would say.
Manchester United are also yet to see any return on the £52 million they spent on Fred last summer. The Brazilian arrived from Shakhtar Donetsk with great praise, but he has only made 17 Premier League appearances in total, as he has struggled to adapt to the speed and intensity of the PL. So, the uncertainty still surrounding United's midfield; a team that should stop spending big bucks on defenders and should now focus on strengthening their team's midfield, with a possible loss of our favourite Real Madrid fan-girl from Old Trafford.
Finally, the strikers (Sensible spot). I know a few Man Utd fans (Just one really) who are ecstatic to see Romelu Lukaku leave Old Trafford once and for all, but with Dybala not coming to the red side of Manchester, it's all looking pretty bad up there.
But, even if the Belgian struggled to fully adapt to the team, he had an overall record of 42 goals in 96 games for United, stats that are far superior to any of his team-mates. So, with him gone (and Dybala not coming), who's going to take the scoring boots for the Reds this season?
Solskjaer wants to build a more fluid attack centred around speed and movement, and while it is an exciting prospect, it will require United's remaining attackers to increase their scoring output significantly, particularly Marcus Rashford, now the prime candidate to lead the line. Who cares about Alexis and Martial these days?
Rashford, clearly, has the potential to be a superstar, but he's still young, missing ability and a much better desire to score more goals. The guy has never scored more than 13 goals in a single season! That's partly down to playing much of his football out wide, of course, but United are still banking on him producing an unprecedented quantity of goals.
Solskjaer has also praised Anthony Martial's attitude this summer, but can he hold down a starting spot? Can "the pianist" Alexis Sanchez turn his United career around? Can even Lingard rediscover his scoring touch? And what about the new young strikers of the academy? (Forgot their names. Sorry, guys)
There are so many uncertainties and there are more still about whether United will be able to bring in any other attacking reinforcements before the deadline (oops guess that chance is gone now).