Well it’s been a bit of a tough week for Manchester United, but as much as we shouldn’t get carried away by the good results, we shouldn’t get too disheartened by the setbacks either.
The response to the poor results this week has led to many people suggesting we need a huge overhaul. But people have to remember that the key to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s progress at United has been to not do that. It is a big change that is needed but he needs to do it over time to see the best results. Not just put all his eggs in one basket and hope it comes off. We’ve seen that before and if it doesn’t come off, then we end up with a new manager with a big expensively assembled squad he doesn’t know what to do with.
Don’t ignore the emergencies. A partner for Harry Maguire would make us stronger at the back. I do like Nathan Are from Bournemouth, and it is obvious we need someone with that sort of ability and balance. And presence! Too many teams are coming up against United and they fancy their chances. They need to get that fear factor back in the backline again.
But one name in defence could be enough to help us improve. We could sign a left-back, but what could that do to Brandon Williams, who has been one of the highlights of the season? The emergence of the youngsters coming through has been one of the true highlights of Ole’s reign so far, and one of the big positives in the way it has helped United. You have Axel Tuanzebe waiting for a chance, Ethan Laird, and Timothy Fosu-Mensah is finally back in the fold. I’m not saying these players are the real deal, but they’re young players to be given a chance to, so let’s see what they’re all about.
United’s midfield still looks as if it is a work in progress. Bruno Fernandes has been tired of late but we have seen since he came in that he has given confidence in the team and that has helped other players to play. When you have needed him he has generally been there. That has provided a challenge to some of the other players and although a few weeks ago I felt it would be a big benefit for Paul Pogba to play alongside him, I look at the last couple of games and can’t help but feel disappointed – not just in the handball, but the general approach.
It should be the case that when one of our creative stars is off their game, another steps up, but Fernandes being tired has seen Pogba go missing again. And as we’ve seen that before I have to think that it’s only a matter of time until we see the other things we don’t like. We don’t need that. His attitude has been up for question many times and Ole will not need that as a major feature of his squad moving forward.
We want to build, instead, around the positive aspects, and we can definitely say Ole has done more when it comes to us seeing the type of football that is the hallmark of United than Pogba has. So you have to back the manager. We’re once again back at the point of asking if he is worth more as an asset. People have started to question the contract given to David De Gea in the same way as they did with Alexis Sanchez. Has Pogba done enough since he came back to United to justify the same sort of contract we have given the others?
It becomes an investment in hope of things changing rather than examples set by the past.
And that is the same for everyone. Everyone has to step up, starting with Sunday. The strikers have done so well to get their 20-plus goals but now we need to start seeing the 6, 8, 10 goal contributions from others if we are to seriously challenge.
What we have seen is a squad with too many fringe players and that has meant we’ve seen these inconsistent runs of a few wins that get everyone excited and then the flat performances as soon as one or two players are changed. So it’s time for another one or two of those to move on and one or two young players to be brought through.
Patience is the key word. As long as Manchester United fans see the team playing entertaining football they will support the manager.
Nothing is unattainable next season providing Ole doesn’t spend too much time putting out these fires everywhere. What has struck me when observing other teams is that a consistent and settled team yields consistent and settled performances. The same has rung true for Ole.
So even though it has been a disappointing week, I remain supportive of him as the right man at the helm, and I’m certainly looking forward to watching the new season. Let’s hope that it will include Champions League football.