Tag Archives: Manchester United

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.

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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. 

How crucial will David De Gea’s role at Manchester United be following his new contract signing?

Finally after a period of prolonged negotiations stretching roughly two years, the Spanish number one goalkeeper has signed a new deal at Manchester United this week until 2023.

This latest contract ensures that the Spanish international becomes the highest earner at the club, earning around £375,000 per week.

That in mind, it begs the question, how important will his role be in trying to get Manchester United back to competing again for premier league titles?

Following on from this, should he subsequently be made club captain?

Background and achievements to date

De Gea is currently one of the clubs longest serving players, having signed for The Red Devils back in 2011/12 from Atletico Madrid. The Spanish goalkeeper was scouted and hand picked as a replacement for veteran goalkeeper, Edwin Van Der Saar, by none other than legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.

During that time he has played over 300 games for the club and has helped them win a Premier League title – which he considers to be his career highlight so far, a League Cup, FA Cup and Europa League crown.

In terms of individual achievements, De Gea is the only Manchester United player to date to win the prestigious Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award on four separate occasions.

Challenging Times

Following a difficult first season with Manchester United, up until the World Cup in Russia 2018, he was widely considered to be the World Best Goalkeeper alongside Bayern Munich and German international keeper, Manuel Neuer.

A standout performance that immediately comes to mind is the remarkable 3-0 win against Liverpool at Old Trafford in 2014. What made this performance so special is that it is the first time that I can remember a goalkeeper being made man of the match.

He has also been responsible for evolving the importance of the goalkeeper position by constantly making remarkable saves with his feet as well as using his remarkable hand reflexes.

The previous season however has shown that his standards have notably slipped following his poor performances for Spain in Russia. This was followed by the latter disappointing games for Manchester United. Most importantly, his below par performance against Barcelona in the Champions League Quarter-final second leg where Lionel Messi’s second goal came from a shot going through De Gea’s legs. There was a similar goal conceded against Chelsea in the league at Old Trafford.

What was also apparent was the low number of Manchester United clean sheets he kept throughout the season.  De Gea only managed seven in the league out of a possible 38 matches and conceded 54 goals.  This was almost twice the number of the 2017/18 campaign where he achieved 18 clean sheets and only let in 28 goals.

The most likely cause of this lack of confidence was due to his uncertain future at the club, and also his inability to recover from his average performances for Spain at last summer’s World Cup.

What next for De Gea and what role should he play for Manchester United?

Manchester United fans must now be hoping that following the resolution of De Gea’s future; he will begin to go back to his previous excellent form.

He does have a key role to play in helping form a “new, more solid spine of the team,” according to former club captain, Gary Neville.

De Gea is now one of the more experienced players at the club and as his current manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer constantly stresses, “he is still one of the world best goalkeepers and holds him in the highest esteem at the club.”

Stats will show that this season De Gea has already managed to match the number clean sheets that he had at Old Trafford from last season (two).

This has been aided by the fact there has been a consistent centre back pairing in Harry Maguire and Victor Lindeloef, a luxury that he did not have in the last campaign.

I believe he should also be made captain, as he is now one of the few Manchester United players who have experienced winning a Premier League title, as well as being one of their most constant performers.

Not only that, but I also liked his answer on his approach to leading a team that he gave in his interview on Monday following the confirmation of his new contract, that also indicates a more positive attitude that should reflect in his performance over the coming months. De Gea said,

“I think that it’s important to have your say but, at the same time, not to go too far or say something to your team-mates in a bad-mannered way. I’m always a pretty calm character, but when something needs to be said, I will say it, especially out on the pitch where I think it’s most important, to give bits of advice to everyone.

To always try and help everyone out, especially the younger lads.  So yes like I say, to always help where possibly I can.”

Other Captain Contenders?

Current club captain, Ashley Young, is no longer a guaranteed first choice starter having moved behind both, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the full back pecking order.

While other long serving players such as Chris Smailing have gone on loan to Roma and, like with Ashley Young, Phil Jones is no longer a first choice defender.

New signing, Harry Maguire, while he has potential to be club captain, he has not been at the club for long enough.  There is also the added pressure of dealing with being the world’s most expensive defender.

The only other viable contenders at the moment for the captaincy that I can see are Juan Mata, who is not guaranteed to start every game, however he is widely considered to be a model professional and then there is the enigma that is Paul Pogba.

Conclusion: What does the future hold for the Spanish international?

In the short term, David De Gea will have his eyes on regaining his place as Spain’s number one goalkeeper from Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga as well as getting back to his high standards and performances that he produced for previous managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.

One thing that is clearly apparent however, David De Gea has a crucial role to play in getting Manchester United back to where they feel they should be, that is competing for league titles over the coming years. 

The Battle for Sixth

10 to 15 years ago, the Premier League was a far simpler place. The established top four were Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Generally, the excitement came from seeing what order those teams would finish in. 

Nowadays, we have a top six after the rise of Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. And not just that, we appear to have a few more teams who are looking to gate crash the big boys. 

With the recent declines of United, Chelsea and Arsenal, sixth spot, at least, is starting to look like it may be up for grabs. One of the teams vying for it is Leicester City. 

Harry Maguire is 26 years old. He’s probably just about old enough to vaguely remember Man United’s treble, and certainly old enough to have grown up in a time when the Red Devils still dominated English football. 

It’s a frame of mind that may have stuck in his head over the summer, as he eventually got his £85 million move to Old Trafford. At the moment though, a move from Leicester to United could arguably be seen as reducing your chances of finishing in a coveted European spot. 

The two teams now go head to head on Saturday, and it is already looking like the match could be an important marker for both sides this season. 

The Foxes have some excellent players, and their midfield is packed with talent. Wilfred Ndidi has proved himself superbly in a holding midfield role, and Hamza Choudhury is developing into a fearsome player. 

On the more attacking front, Leicester have the talents of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans. Maddison adapted brilliantly from the Championship to the Premier League last season, creating the more chances than anyone else in the league. 

Tielemans, meanwhile, was arguably one of the most underrated transfers of the summer. The talented young Belgian impressed in the second half of last season, and has started this season in great form with a goal and an assist from his opening matches. 

Kasper Schmeichel is a fine keeper, and the Foxes have good options at full back with Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell. And who could forget Jamie Vardy, who has started this season excellently. Keeping him fit will be key to Leicester’s top six charge. 

Things seem to be coming together nicely under Brendan Rodgers at the King Power stadium. The same can’t really be said for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the north west. 

It would be foolish to label United’s squad as being generally limited. They still have David de Gea. Paul Pogba – for all that pundits like to slander him – is a brilliant player, and they have the talents of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford up front. 

But nothing seems to have really gelled for the Red Devils. Really, they are a counter-attacking side with two pacy forwards in Rashford and Martial combined with the superb long range passing of Pogba. 

But teams are happy enough to sit back against them. Maybe it’s a hangover from 10 years ago when you’d expect to be beaten by Manchester United, or perhaps most managers have cottoned on to the fact that if United have a lot of the ball, they tend to struggle. 

United lack any true creative presences further up the pitch. Pogba seems to operate better from deeper positions and while they do have a former No10 supremo in Juan Mata, his powers are fading as the pace of the game appears to be getting away from the Spaniard. 

All hope should not be lost though. Maguire and Victor Lindelof have the potential to become a solid defensive partnership, and their backline has been further strengthened by the addition of Aaron Wan-Bissaka. 

And then there is the form of Daniel James, who has exceeded all expectations. His first goal for United may have been a tad lucky courtesy of a deflection, but it seems to have given him great confidence and belief – he is now scoring fine goals for both club and country. 

But United cannot be solely reliant on Pogba hitting long balls to Rashford and Martial, and James smashing in screamers. They need to forge more of a style – perhaps they would be better off hunkering down and attempting to focus on counter-attacking. For the moment at least, they lack the personnel to truly dominate and successfully wear down the opposition. 

They come up against a Leicester side who have a highly technically proficient midfield, one that arguably has the potential to cut through most Premier League sides. 

Getting an edge over United on Saturday will be vital for Rodgers’ and his side, while Solskjaer will be looking to stop the rot at Old Trafford after just three wins in his last 16 games.