02 Apr 2021 11:10:32
With Football back after two weeks of imitation football, I have been looking forward to try and gain a handle on where our team is and what sort of decisions need to be made going forward.

I think the first really big decision for next season has to be who will be our No.1. Both are similarly capable at the moment in my eyes. While DDG is still the better shot stopper, and clearly has the bigger reputation, Henderson is on the upward curve, he learns from his mistakes quickly. While his command of his area, willingness to come off his line either for high balls or to sweep up behind the defence, along with his more vocal personality means he enhances the defence in front of him more so than DDG.

Personally I'd make Henderson our No.1 and allow him to start really building a relationship with our defence.

Either way a decision needs to be made, DDG won't sit on the bench and Henderson won't do so either next year. Henderson has also said he won't leave on loan again. This summer it will come to a head. The choice is keep one as first choice and sell the other, which remains to be seen. Oh this also means we will need to bring in at least one keeper this summer, with Grant and Romero's contract's being up. We'll need a back up keeper.

The next issue is our defence. I would argue that on current form and what we have seen over the past few years that only Shaw is good enough as things stand for a top side aiming to win titles. AWB is great defensively, but below average going forward. Some serious coaching needs to be done with the lad as in the modern game full backs are expected to offer width in an offensive sense. I don't rate any of our central defenders, and if given an unlimited budget I'd replace all of them bar Tuanzebe as I feel he has something, but as yet hasn't had the opportunity to show it.
For me Lindelof is the best defender of the bunch, great reader of the game, barely dribbled past, good positioning, decent tackler. While he is good on the ball, solid technique. The issue with Lindelof is I'm not sure he is suited to the EPL. His laid back style and the fact that he is far too easily bullied in the air for a guy his size suggests that it isn't a physical weakness, he just isn't aggressive enough for the EPL.
Bailly is too aggressive and as such injures himself every other week. He should be first choice, but can't stay fit. In almost 5 seasons he has missed 94 matches through injury and a total of 536 days unable to train with the group or play, from a total 17 different injuries.
Maguire isn't going anywhere, literally the guy just can't move. He's good at heading balls and he's decent at passing out from the back as long as he isn't forced onto his left foot. But he doesn't have the in game intelligence or ability to read the game that a defender needs. This is compounded by his lack of pace or mobility meaning he can't quickly right hi mistakes and get back. I'd sell him tomorrow, but if I'm honest if the club put him up for sale with a 40m price tag I don't think there would be any takers.
Jones is well Jones.

Its clear that our defence needs major work, we need top class central defenders, while a genuine competition to AWB and someone he can learn from at RB would be useful. However, given we have Williams and Laird at the club this is a position that while needing addressing if we are to be a title challenging team, is one that could be delayed a season if finances won't stretch.

Midfield is a strange one, on paper we seem to have some interesting options. Matic, Fred, McTominay, Pogba and Donny seem like a decent mix. The issues come though in that Matic is past his best and needs to be moved on. Pogba want's to leave, while Donny just hasn't adapted. His style seems at odds to United's and he doesn't seem comfortable with the pace of the EPL yet. This really leaves Fred and McTominay. Good hard working professionals, but neither are top class and both have flaws that leave our defence exposed at times. McTominay's positioning and natural tendencies mean he often doesn't track runners or finds himself too far away to do so. While Fred's boots have more angles than a 50p piece. When you pass the ball into him you have no idea where its going, and sadly neither does Fred. Needing to take 2, 3 or 4 touches to bring the ball under control means that by the time he has he is marked by 2 players and he has no passing options. Simply he just isn't good enough.

The reality is midfield needs a rebuild if we can to have a side that can dominate possession and transition quickly enough to rip teams open. At best we have two players who might have a long term role in midfield. However, that role looks more like as back up rather than first choice. If McTominay can continue to develop he might have a place, while if Donny can adapt he certainly has the talent. Both though are ifs. We don't actually have a nailed on top class player in midfield. Until we do we will always struggle for consistency or to challenge the best.

Looking at our forward line Bruno and Rashford have the No.10 and LW positions nailed down. There is a slight concern over whether the back up for them is anywhere near good enough (Mata and James), but with no top class striker, and no other creativity (especially out wide) . There are other much bigger concerns than squad depth. Martial has all the talent to be a top class player, but his mentality is Sunday league. He sulks if things don't go his way, he plays within himself. He has had more than enough chances and it is now clear that he needs to leave. It's just a matter of when now. Do we push him out this summer, or do we wait until next year when our forward line might be looking stronger with new additions and further development of players like Diallo, Greenwood and Pellistri, as well as kids like Elanga, McNeill and Hugill.

The hole on the right wing is half filled with potential, players like Greenwood who is ultimately playing out of position, or Diallo who has the potential but has hardly played much at all. In a parallel universe Lingard is playing on the right and putting in similar performances to what we are seeing him put in for West Ham. However, that ship has sailed. Just like Martial I think to get the best out of Lingard he needs to be guaranteed first choice. He needs that confidence to enable him to play his game. Makes them great players at mid-sized clubs, but they struggle at top teams with serious competition for places.

Looking forward we need BOTH a top striker AND a creative presence on the RW. The reality is such players cost 50-80m each which would likely blow all of our budget. So we will likely need to make a decision here, either a ST or a RW. Foe me Greenwood is the key, if you sign a ST then he continues to play RW which isn't really his position and still means that the new striker will be feeding off of scraps ad Bruno and Shaw will be the only players feeding them chances, and both are often marked tightly limiting those chances. The other option and my preferred option would be to sign a top class RW, someone who can make 2-3 key passes a game, someone whose very presence means Bruno can't be marked as tightly, freeing him up to create a few more chances. Then I'd go with Martial and Greenwood fighting it out for first choice ST. It's Greenwood long term position, giving him an extended run to hone his skills there will be important and necessary for his development. Might as well do it sooner rather than later.

When looking at which strikers might be available, Haaland and Mbappe are way outside our budget, and have no interest joining us anyway. So then we start looking at what other options are there. Kane maybe if we want to spend 120m on him, its Daniel Levy remember. Anyone else is either a step down in quality such as Moussa Dembele, a expensive gamble such as Lauturo Martinez (80m), a cheaper bigger gamble such as Patson Daka, or we go for someone like a 33 year old Benzema looking for a last pay day.
Alternatively we could maybe look at a swap deal between Pogba and Dybala. That would give us a creative striker who could play ST, No.10 or RW/ RF, the issue is does Dybala really want to come to United.

None seem attainable or well suited. All of them will still be attempting to score from 1 or 2 decent chances a game unless we are able to spend big and bring in a creative player as well.

When I see our squad I see a 2 year need at least in order to get us back to a side that can genuinely challenge for the title. We will have to bring in a back up keeper, we need at least 1 ideally 2 CB's, we need a back up RB, we need at least 1 maybe 2 midfielders, we need a RW and we need a ST.

If this summer we could sign a back up keeper (needs to be this summer with one of Henderson or DDG leaving), a CB, a CDM and a RW that would be a great summer. We would improve the side in most areas of the pitch. Yet we would still be lacking in a few areas.

The following summer we could look as a promising CB, back up RB, a Creative box to box midfielder, and a striker. However, at that point players like Mengi, Laird, Garner and Greenwood may have stepped up or proven themselves ready to step up and take one or two of those roles.

That's the state of the squad as I see it, and what areas we need to improve on before we can call ourselves genuine title challengers.

P. S. I sent something similar to Ed Woodward applying for the DoF role a few months back. He responded and said its a lovely pipedream, but all I would be required to do was get top 4 and keep the Glazer trust fund topped up.

1.) 02 Apr 2021
02 Apr 2021 12:30:40
Shappy, great detailed post to where the club currently sit. Reality is, whether we like it or not, that the club will only spend so much this summer due to C.V. (whether this is a convenient excuse it us reality) . Priority for me should be HM which depending on who then stays allows for Fred/ mctominy/ VDB to play the box to box role that I think they are all more suited to, whether in a 4231 or a 433 next to Bruno. Depending on departures there may be an extra need for midfielders but HM is the priority for me.
CD is next If not on a par, you have detailed well the issues we have but for me one change will improve this unit and it has been said before, left footed CB with Maguire moving to the right side, his more natural foot will help him and I also feel that AWB next to him will also add an extra cover. Should an 80m player require this, no, but it does not change the fact that it would improve his play for me.
RW or Striker depends on Dialos progression and what OGS sees as his future. Considering we will have spent North of 30m on him we need to work this out and play him there which may then require a senior reserve as cover. If he is seen as able to play across the line then maybe a younger player like Nero (maybe raid Wolves for him and Neves)
Striker should be last unless we bring in a replacement for Cavani, all options would kill our spending in other areas and I think if we do Woosmdward would want a big splash like a Kane. Greenwood at some point needs a run here to see if he can develop and Martial still has merits if his mind is on it.
There is revenue to bring in on sales and players cut to free up wages. Unfortunately DeGea should be one of these with Henderson promoted and an older backup Brought in like A Cilissen.
Thiswould set us up to improve next year and then go bigger on the following window assuming fans and revenue returns.
As an aside I would like to see the club look to Portugal for players, I think they have a good success rate on the PL and we have done well with the few we have had. I like a few of the Sporting players and prices not too steep.

2.) 02 Apr 2021
02 Apr 2021 14:15:24
Shappy - We all love to play fantasy football but I think we need to be realistic and move the conversation forward.

We’ve had two years of Ole so I think there is enough evidence to assess his preferred formation, style of play and comment on how this team can improve moving forward whilst also taking into consideration the damaging effects of CV on the Clubs finances.

Ole’s preferred formation is 4-2-3-1. I think there is enough evidence to suggest that he wants to push his fullbacks forward in support of a fluid, interchangeable front 3 including inverted wingers/ forwards capable of cutting inside and scoring goals and the use of an attacking, creative midfielder or No10. In the double pivot there is evidence that Ole prefers to use a special-ist CDM (Matic) and a more creative, box to box midfielder (Pogba) .

Unfortunately Matic is now well past his best and Pogba has been injured. I think Ole also has concerns around Pogba’s defensive discipline especially in the big games which has seen him moved to the wing on occasions.

I think Pogba, Mctominay and VdB can all be deployed as box to box midfielders.

Fred is a difficult player to assess but his strengths are undoubtedly his energy, tenacity and his ability to get around the pitch quickly, making tackles and winning the ball back. When Fred doesn’t play we don’t have another player capable of performing this role in the team. Unfortunately his passing is terrible and I’m not convinced he tracks runners effectively, however Fred is rarely injured and available for most games. Matic is the only genuine special-ist CDM in the entire squad but in my opinion he’s well past his best and finished at the highest level. At this moment in time (in my opinion and until the end of the season) our double pivot should be made up of Fred and either Pogba, Mctominay or VdB in the box to box role.

In defence with have 2 good left backs (Shaw and Telles) and four solid CB’s (Maguire, Lindelof, Bailly, Tuanzebe) leaving AWB at RB with only young Brandon Williams as potential cover.

In attack we have Rashford and James on the left, Martial and Cavani up front but no genuine, recognised RW. Greenwood has played from the right but surely his future lies elsewhere. (For some reason Ole won’t play Diallo despite him scoring an excellent goal against AC Milan in which made a brilliant inside run and scored with an equally brilliant header) .

There may be compelling arguments that some players aren’t good enough but this team in desperate need of a special-ist CDM and RW.

In my opinion Ole’s tenure will be defined by a few key players namely Maguire, Shaw, AWB, Rashford, Fernandes, the continued development of Greenwood and the return to form of Martial. Adding a top quality CDM and RW to those players would undoubtedly improve the team.

I think if we acquired a top quality CDM and RW this summer, players that go straight into the first team we’d see a much improved Man Utd.

We are simply not going to sign a CB, CDM, RW and CF this summer. Ole must decide which key positions to strengthen that will have the biggest impact on the team.

3.) 02 Apr 2021
02 Apr 2021 14:37:17
Good posts lads.

DLIB, that last line is haunting. 'Ole must decide which key positions to strengthen that will have the biggest impact on the team. ' 😫.

4.) 02 Apr 2021
02 Apr 2021 15:35:26
Looking forward to see who we buy, only one position to improve so a couple of a good signings could take us there especially with a manager who is getting a lot out of the players even in such a tough season.

Exciting times ahead.

5.) 02 Apr 2021
02 Apr 2021 16:26:01
I’d be surprised if we don’t see Lingard next season. He’s smashing it at West Ham and the club will buy one of a CF or RW. If it’s a CF, Lingard comes back and fights for a place on the right.

6.) 02 Apr 2021
02 Apr 2021 16:48:06
Angel - I think Ole has a big decision to make at GK this summer but in essence we have two very good goal keepers.

Maguire is Club captain and cost £80m he will remain first choice whilst Ole is in charge. Ole spent £50m on AWB so the same probably applies. We obviously don’t need another left back. We probably need a new partner for Maguire but Ole rates Lindelof so unfortunately I don’t think there is any guarantee that a new CB goes straight into the team especially if it’s a Club signing similar to VdB.

In midfield the Pogba situation has been continually ignored and may present a problem this summer. Ed002 has continually warmed us that Pogba may run his contract down so the Club might bury their head in the sand again in the hope they can persuade him to sign a new contract. VdB provides an obvious solution should Pogba be sold this summer but Ole doesn’t seem to rate him, so a Pogba replacement may be required. Matic is finished in my opinion and as the only recognised CDM in the entire squad this position definitely needs strengthening this summer.

Upfront Ole has continually championed the likes of Rashford, Martial and Bruno. We don’t have a recognised RW and this is a position that obviously needs strengthening. I’m not convinced Diallo will get more minutes next season but with the Club investing big money to bring him and Pellestri to Old Trafford does it make sense they will invest huge money to sign someone like Sancho who would conceivable block their route into the first team for the foreseeable future perhaps permanently? My fear is we could go into yet another season without a recognised RW or inexperienced options which Ole just won’t utilise.

Upfront I still think Ole rates Martial and the Club have always been reluctant to move him on. Unless we signed the likes of Haaland or Kane, (which we obviously won’t) then again I just don’t see Ole playing a new CF above the likes of Martial or Greenwood.

I think to get players into that first team that Ole will use will cost big money that we just don’t have. My fear is that we sign players that Ole just won’t use. I’d rather we spent money on players that will instantly improve the starting 11 and if that means only signing 1 or 2 players this summer then so be it. What we can’t afford to do in my opinion is spend another £70-80m on fringe players that won’t improve the starting 11 like we did last summer on VdB, Telles, Diallo and Pellestri that Ole simply won’t use.

Two top quality players in key positions either at CB, CDM, RW or CF would undoubtedly improve us and take us another step forward to a team capable of achieving upwards of 75 points and securing another top 4 finish next season.

I just don’t see Ole as a manager or the Club capable of assembling a team/ squad that could get in excess of the 90 points needed to win a title.

Next season I’d like to see Ole construct a more offensive team capable of playing a more attractive brand of football, I would like to see a good run in all the cup competitions including the Champions League (assuming we qualify) and securing another top 4 finish and building towards a side capable of getting upwards of 80 points.

The only way I ever see Utd getting anywhere near a title over the next few years is by building a team and squad capable of getting upwards of 80 points and taking advantage of any disruption caused if either Pep or Klopp leave City or Liverpool. Unfortunately I also think Chelsea will pose a massive threat if they get a top quality CF and maybe CB over the next few years.

Eric - That wouldn’t surprise me one bit! I think we’ll probably have Dalot and Pereria back as well!

7.) 02 Apr 2021
02 Apr 2021 17:19:35
I think Rice would make a big difference. He has had a fantastic season. His tracking of runs and reading of games is very very good. He snuffs out countless attacks and moves the ball well without being a pirlo style holding defender.

I do think Ole wants a proper striker. I'm not so sure he is convinced by Martial. He has always said AM needs to add scruffy goals and tap ins to his repertoire. But AM just doesn't make the runs needed in that role. He is a scorer of nice goals, but will never be a goal machine.

Kane would be a dream. The guy has added play making to his game in spades. Scores for fun. And in the box he gets on the end of things, which we do not have outside of Cavani.

Add Kane and AM could even still get games as cover for any of the front 4 positions. So he would still get plenty of game time, but as the main 9 I don't think anyone is totally convinced.

Greenwood is doing very well on the right, I'm very happy with him there and diallo pushing him.

I also think Lindelof and McGuire are better than people think. My preferred partnership from our current stable of CBs.

8.) 02 Apr 2021
02 Apr 2021 19:06:15
DLIB, I agree 100% that we should not being signing squad options or 3rd or 4th choice options. It doesn't improve the side at all.

Last summer we spent 35m on Donny, 15m on Telles, 9m on Pellistri and 19m on Diallo. Some of those fees have performance related bonuses attached and could raise quite a lot (especially Diallo's) . On top of that we agreed to sign Cavani on huge wages/ signing-on fee. That's 80-90m summer spend. Which is more than most teams in the league. Yet not a single one of those players goes in to the team and made our first 11 any strong than last season.

Our improvement in terms of results is either luck or improvement in our existing players. Probably a bit of both truth be told.

We need at least 2 new first team players, probably 4 or 5 in truth. Yet we need to make sure we get at least one.

I agree that CB is an odd one, Maguire won't be dropped and Ole has a lot of loyalty to Lindelof. If we sign a CB they need to be a level above both of them to jump straight into the side.

I could also see an argument where making Henderson first choice and signing someone like Rice could make a huge improvement in defence without adding a new defender. A more effective shield who can track runners from midfield and a more commanding keeper who'll come off his line and push the defence further up the field could make a lot of difference.

Going forward I see the lack of creativity as a bigger problem first and foremost than us having a stone cold killer up front.

Last season Rashford, Martial and Greenwood outscored Liverpool's front three, while having less than half as many shots. This season that number has dropped further. Unless Bruno makes the chance it seems no one else will. Bringing in a creative RW who'll add more chances will take the reliance on Bruno away. Giving him more space to be even more deadly than he has been, while also creating more space and chances for Rashford, Greenwood and Martial. Sancho is the obvious signing, and a potential swap deal with Donny and some cash has been mooted. Which wouldn't be an awful deal.

9.) 02 Apr 2021
02 Apr 2021 20:03:21
I think we should persist with Diallo and Greenwood at RW instead of going after a shiny new name.
A proper striker is what we should go for instead. Martial's attitude stinks, a younger fit version of Cavani is what our front line needs.

10.) 02 Apr 2021
02 Apr 2021 20:17:27
Shappy - I agree with that mate. Maybe we could do something with Lingard for Rice and DvB for Sancho but we don’t seem to have the appetite for swap deals and even then we’d need to find at least another £100 million to complete those transfers.

I suppose that could be possible if we got some money for Pogba but then we’d be light in midfield again. I’ve read we’ve been linked with Sabitzer from Leipzig who’s out of contract next summer and a very good player.

A summer of Rice, Sancho and Sabitzer would undoubtedly improve our team and could be possible if we considered swap deals and sold Pogba.

Rice £60m plus Lingard
Sancho £80 plus DvB
Sabitzer £40m (last year of contract)

Sell Pogba £50m
Dalot £10-15m
Pereria £5-10m
De Gea or Henderson £40m

I’m dreaming we don’t have the vision or competence to do all that in one window and I have no idea if my figures are anywhere near accurate back to playing fantasy football again but we would have a new double pivot in midfield and RW 🤣

Hope everyone has a nice Easter weekend.

11.) 02 Apr 2021
02 Apr 2021 20:57:19
DLIB, I think we could/ should easily be able to complete deals for Sancho and Rice if they are who the club deem the right players.

Donny and 40m for Sancho.

Lingard, Jones and 30m for Rice.

70m spent. Sell the likes of DDG or Henderson should get 30m at least. Players like Dalot and Andreas Pereira should also pick up another 30m. Would give a net spend of 10m.

For what it's worth if Donny leaves then we are best keeping Pogba and letting him leave on a free.

If we can then find 50-70m for a back up keeper and a CB (maybe selling Bailly as well) then we are laughing. 70-80m net spend with Sancho, Rice a CB and a back up keeper.

All pie in the sky through.

12.) 02 Apr 2021
02 Apr 2021 21:23:43
TRD, Greenwood is a striker, Martial is in poor form but is a special-ist striker. Rashford can play as a striker if needed.

The issue with Greenwood on the right is that his instinct is to look for shooting chances for himself rather than create them for someone else.

If we sign a top striker then play Greenwood and Rashford either side with neither of them looking to play killer passes into the new striker.

Strikers need ammunition and at the moment we only have Bruno giving feeding them chances.

I think Diallo is a huge talent, but he is nowhere near ready to be relied on.

13.) 02 Apr 2021
02 Apr 2021 22:03:56
No shappy, the issue for our wide players is that they play the ball into dangerous areas and no one is there, either AM as a striker or the opposite wide player arriving into the 6 yard box as a second striker.

We could have Beckham or Giggs out wide and we would still no get those types of goals. Put Kane in the middle and suddenly crosses might be a more attractive proposition.

Also greenwood has added team play to his game this year. No longer only looking to shoot.

14.) 03 Apr 2021
03 Apr 2021 08:09:30
Agree Dodgy, Greenwood has looked more rounded this year.
His work rate has immensely improved.
Pellistri is also having a good loan. Signing another RW will limit the playing time and development of Greenwood and Diallo.

On the other hand, Martial's movement is shocking. He doesn't have the killer instinct of a striker nor any desire to bust his gut.

Strengthening our spine has to be the priority.

15.) 03 Apr 2021
03 Apr 2021 09:20:22
While Greenwood has improved his all round game, working harder off the ball and making runs for the team, he still isn't really creating a load of chances.

He averages 0.4 key passes a game, which for context is less than Matic (0.5). He has as many EPL assists as Victor Lindelof (1).

As a wide player he is making less than 1 key pass every TWO games, and has 1 assist in 23 league appearances.

I think talking about Diallo and Pellistri as the answer to our RW for next season is like saying Joe Hugill and Charlie McNeil are the answer to our striker position next season.

Hugely talented lads, but next year should probably be playing 8-10 games at most, probably in the cups.

Look at it like this let's say Martial is injured for most of next season, who replaces him in the starting line up? Greenwood maybe, Rashford? Good players, arguably better players.

Now let's say Bruno picks up a season ending injury, who will create any goal scoring chances for our strikers?

We rely heavily on Bruno to create, if he is injured or marked out of a game then we create very little. That means it doesn't really matter who we have making runs or clever movement as a striker. As simply put there is no one to play the ball to them.

A creative player who can carry the burden with Bruno, and give us more than one way to create goals will have a bigger impact than someone who can tuck them away.

Last season Rashford, Martial and Greenwood scored more goals between them than Salah, Mane and Firmino.

Yes they can be wasteful and like many young players their form comes and goes, but if we create an extra 5 or 6 top quality chances for them in each game they will score more.

However, if we bring in an elite striker and still only create the same number of chances per game then they won't score enough extra goals to make much of a difference.

16.) 03 Apr 2021
03 Apr 2021 10:18:38
Greenwood is going through a rough patch in front of goal. Last season he scored 15 odd goals playing off the right.
Added to that, he has a RB in AWB who is limited in supporting the attack.

Hugill and McNeil are playing for U23 and U18's.
Pellistri is playing first team football in La Liga. Diallo is training and playing with the first team.
Next season could be his break-through season.

Instead of hampering their progress, we need to get a solid midfielder who can get the ball forward.
Fred, Matic and McTominay don't have the vision and passing range to do so.

A top class, CB and CDM has to be first targeted first. If budget stretches, then a striker.

17.) 03 Apr 2021
03 Apr 2021 13:04:50
Dodgy, have a look at when those balls are balls are crossed into the box. They aren't first time quick and early balls.

They tend to be second wave attack balls crossed in after the wide players path into the middle was cut off. Unable to get a goal scoring chance themselves our wide players tuck back and hit a cross into a by now crowded area.

It's funny how we judge a player by their ability to pass a ball to their teammate, yet when its our wide players hitting the ball into the box and no one is there suddenly that's not their fault its the other players who should have been there.
Next time Fred plays a pass to no one and gives the ball away in the middle of the pitch we should blame McTominay or Bruno for not being there to receive the pass rather than Fred for hitting the ball aimlessly to no one.

I'm joking obviously, but it does raise an interesting question. Why is its Martial's fault if Greenwood or Rashford's passes are sent where he isn't rather than where he is?

18.) 03 Apr 2021
03 Apr 2021 19:18:02
Because Shappy, as the number 9 he HAS to make a run to the 6 yard box either in front of or behind the CBs. He doesn't, and in certain circumstances it is unforgivable.

It is why AM is not a 9. And in answer of the same question you post here over and over. AM can play 10 in Behind a top striker if Fernandes is injured.