Category Archives: Manchester United

Is Maddison the man for Ole?

James Maddison is continuing to impress at Leicester and is looking more and more like the finished article and one of the elite play-makers in the country. And with United’s current plight, Maddison seems like the perfect fit to come in and save their season.

The attacking midfielder showed flashes of his brilliance last season playing 36 games and getting seven goals and seven assists in his first season in the top flight. With Claude Puel getting the chop in February, Brendan Rodgers has come in and turned the foxes around with some shrewd signings and inventive tactics. Rodgers’ arrival has also seen Maddison step up his game with goals against Liverpool and Spurs as well as an assist against Chelsea, Maddison has become a big game player.

Maddison is Leicester’s most creative midfielder, has a brilliant eye for a pass and can score goals in or outside the box. Add this to his brilliant dead-ball and dribbling skills and it is tough to find an area of his game that needs significantly improving.

Brendan Rodgers’ has pushed Maddison back slightly into a number eight role, giving him more defensive responsibility and requiring him to work for the team more. Maddison has taken to this new role like a duck to water and it has also seen him get on the ball more and dictate play.

United are currently crying out for a creative midfielder with the absence of Paul Pogba, and on paper Maddison seems like the perfect option to bring in. Ole seems to be clinging onto the job by the skin of his teeth and it is almost inevitable that he or whoever is in the Old Trafford hot seat in January will be given money to spend to improve a squad that has looked a million miles away from challenging for the top four this term.

But then begs the question, why would Maddison leave Leicester for United? Right now Leicester have a much better squad and manager than United, and it’d take a minor miracle for United to finish above them this season considering they are seven points behind after ten games.

United have always been able to attract the very best and despite not being in a great place over the past few years, have not lost that pulling power that has seen the likes of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexis Sanchez turn down bigger money to join the Red Devils. And with Maddison being a United fan as a boy, that could be a key factor in whether he makes the move this winter.

Club World Cup, whats new?

The club world cup is undergoing a shake up currently that will see the competition go from seven teams to twenty four starting from 2021. The competition will run every four years and include eight teams from Europe, six from South America, three each from Africa, Asia and North America and one from Oceania, however Many European heavyweights have threatened to boycott.

Being held in the summer months this would significantly impact the European calendar as it would mean players would have to finish a long gruelling season only to have to play more games in the time they should be resting and recuperating.

The European Club Association (ECA) have written a letter to Uefa saying they are firmly against the idea and confirmed that no ECA clubs would be involved. With the potential lack of European clubs this instantly devalues the competition, as how can you have a Club World Cup without arguably the strongest sides in the world?

To further increase the backlash the first edition will be held in China, a place that has seen a multitude of protests and other issues over the past 12 months and right now is in no position to be hosting a global sporting event.

With all its issues and problems, the basic idea of having an expanded Club World Cup featuring all the best teams across the globe to determine who is the best team on the planet sounds good on paper. But logistically the tournament is always going to struggle as long as the different continents have their own football calendars.

The current tournament is well respected outside of Europe and is seen as a very big deal, it has just simply never interested European fans and has often been seen as a distraction to the domestic and Continental campaigns.

After an already shaky beginning can the expanded Club World Cup survive? and possibly outgrow its previous forms?

 

Three players Man United should sign this January

Man United are in somewhat of a crisis at the moment, winless in five, a playing squad devoid of confidence and with a manager seemingly hurtling towards the sack, things are looking bleak at Old Trafford. With top four looking very unlikely and even top six a doubt at the moment, the board need to invest heavily in the squad, starting with this winter transfer window. But who should they be targeting and why?

Wilfred Ndidi- The 22 year old has been very impressive since joining Leicester in 2017 for 17 million pounds from Belgian side Genk, and has been linked with a big money move for some time. With Nemanja Matic declining horribly over the past 12 months, United are in desperate need of a top class holding midfield player and Indidi is one of the best in the Premier League. The Nigerian goes about his work effectively, battling in the centre of the park, winning back possession and has a very good range of passing. Ndidi could partner Paul Pogba perfectly and allow the Frenchman to have more of an effect in the final third safe in the knowledge Ndidi is covering him.

Jadon Sancho- Sancho is one of the brightest young talents in the world but is also consistently putting in top class performances right now. Kick starting a wave of young English talents leaving the Premier League to find first team football abroad, the 19 year old has tore the Bundesliga up and also impressed during his stints with the England National team. With 13 goals and 19 assists in his breakthrough season for Borussia Dortmund last term, and with another four goals and seven assists in just 11 games this season Sancho’s end product for such a young player is exceptional. Despite the fact United would more than likely have to break the bank to sign Sancho, he must be top of Ole’s wish list.

Paulo Dybala- In letting Romelu Lukaku leave for Inter in the summer United lost guaranteed goals. The burden fell on 21 year old Marcus Rashford and 23 year old Anthony Martial who have so far failed to score the goals needed to win United football matches. Despite being linked with 33 year old Mario Mandzukic, this goes against all the things Ole has tried to do with his more youthful approach and therfore Dybala should be their main target. United tried to sign Dybala in the summer but failed to get a deal done, the 25 year old would possibly be a risk with his lack of Premier League experiences and his loss of form over the past year, but he scores goals and he has done for a number of years. Dybala can dribble, pass, shoot is quick, works hard and has experience at the top level, Ed Woodward should be doing everything he can to secure his signature.

German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger announces retirement

On October 6th, at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, fans got to witness the last game of Bastian Schweinsteiger’s career as he announced his retirement. This followed from the 5-2 victory in the MLS regular season finale for Chicago Fire.

Known for his playing days at Bayern Munich, Schweinsteiger won several awards with the Bavarians from 2002-2015. Scoring 45 goals in 342 appearances for Bayern, Schweinsteiger won eight Bundesliga titles, seven DFB-Pokal titles, a DFB-Ligapokal title in 2007, a DFL-Supercup in 2010, and was a part of the UEFA Champions League squad that won the tournament in 2013.

After a great career for Bayern, Schweinsteiger signed a three-year contract of £6.5 million with Manchester United in 2015. In Schweinsteiger’s first season with the Red Devils, he won the FA Cup. However, after the arrival of José Mourinho, Schweinsteiger’s role was diminished, forcing him to move to the Chicago Fire in 2017.

The midfielder also played a pivotal role in the success of Germany’s national team, including winning the 2014 World Cup with the nation, deafeating Argentina 1-0. Scoring 24 goals in 120 appearances, Schweinsteiger’s last appearance for the Germans came after the team’s run ended in the 2016 edition of UEFA’s European Championship.

Schweinsteiger also won several individual awards across his career, including being named the German national team Player of the Year in 2010, and two-time MLS All-Star in 2017 and 2018, and was inducted in Bayern Munich’s prestigious Hall of Fame in 2018.

Manchester United vs Arsenal

About 15 years ago, Manchester United versus Arsenal was the hottest fixture in the Premier League calendar. As the cliche goes, it’s the game you would be looking for as soon as the fixture list came out.

But nowadays, as much as the Sky Sports marketing team are trying to pretend otherwise, it just doesn’t have the same gravity.

The days of the Ferguson-Wenger rivalry are over, along with the two side’s title hopes for the foreseeable future. There are no furious wrestles for top spot in the Premier League, but a desperate clammer for the Europa League. 

The Solskjaer-Emery rivalry just doesn’t feel like it will have the same kind of bite to it. And it’s a rivalry that, should the current form of both sides continue to slump, probably won’t be around for much longer. 

Both sides currently sit outside the ‘top six’, but a win for the Gunners would see them fly up to fourth, behind Leicester City on goal difference. A win for United, meanwhile, would put them level on points with their London opponents.

The two sides have already met twice in 2019 since Solskjaer took over. The first was in late January, near the start of the Norwegian’s now baffling winning streak. It was a game and a result that actually felt like more than just United’s players being happy that someone with a nice smile had taken over as manager. 

Solskjaer displayed some real tactical nous. Jesse Lingard lingered in kind of false nine position, teasing the Arsenal backline. Romelu Lukaku would then use his pace and power to exploit this space, and drift wide to pillage the inevitable gaps left by Sead Kolasinac. 

It was a result that felt like it gave some real substance to United’s burst of form under Solskjaer. Something that showed that it wasn’t just a new manager buzz that was spurring them on. 

But fast forward a couple of months to their Premier League meeting in March, and the Red Devils slumped to a disappointing 2-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium. The wheels had come off whatever vehicle Solskjaer was at the wheel for. 

It was Arsenal’s first victory against Man United since May 2017, having lost three of the four games since. But now they seem the slightly more likely side to pip the points tonight based off recent form.

United capped off a disappointing 2-0 defeat to West Ham last weekend with a midweek scare against Rochdale in the League Cup. A strike from 16 year old Luke Matheson sent the match to a nervous penalty shootout, which United were able to edge through on. 

The signs aren’t encouraging for the Red Devils, although they were able to pull off what now constitutes as a surprise victory against Leicester this month. 

United have generally struggled in games which they’ve seen a lot of the ball, such as against Crystal Palace. But when facing teams that want to play and have their share of the ball like Leicester and Chelsea, the Red Devils have been able to release their counter-attacking weapons. 

This has the potential to trouble Arsenal’s defence, with David Luiz and Sokratis both struggling this season. Sokratis lacks speed and has looked shaky in possession, while Luiz’s recklessness has seen him punished several times already. 

Isolating both in one on one situations could see them struggle, although United will be without Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. Both players’ direct running abilities would have been a serious danger to the Gunners’ centre back partnership.

Instead, it is likely to be Mason Greenwood who they will face. Unless Solskjaer decides that Lingard should be played up front, like he surprisingly did against West Ham. 

Greenwood has certainly shown potential and willingness to run at opponents, so if he can fully realise his talents against the Gunners then he could be a threat. 

But that is not to forget Arsenal’s own talents up front. Alexandre Lacazette remains sidelined but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicholas Pepe both look set to start, with Dani Ceballos in the team to help supply them. 

Arsenal’s front line this year is incredibly promising, in stark contrast to their defence. United, meanwhile, have bolstered at the back with Harry Maguire, who looks to be forming a good partnership with Victor Lindelof. 

But with Martial and Rashford injured and a lack of a creative attacking midfielder, the Red Devils look very light in attack. It will be a fascinating battle between two teams who have greatly mixed abilities throughout each of their sides.