The appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the manager of Man United heralded a new era. United had struggled during the reigns of Jose Mourinho, who managed only seven wins in 17 Premier League games before he was relieved of his duty. Solskjaer restored hope for the fans with 14 wins in his first 19 games and he was rewarded with a three-year contract. Shockingly, the Norwegian manager led the Red Devils to a disappointing finish as they were knocked out of the Champions League and ended the league in sixth place on the log.
Solskjaer has divided the opinions of the Man United fan base but he seem to have the backing of the club’s board. The Times claimed last month that the boss has been handed a hefty £250 million transfer war-chest by Ed Woodward and he is expected to start rebuilding his squad with the same. Although United are yet to sign a first team player, several names including Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Declan Rice, Bruno Fernandes, Thomas Meunier and Saul Niguez are all on their shopping list.
While we expect to see one or two departures, we take a swipe at two key areas United must strengthen in order to compete with Man City and Liverpool next season.
Man United are not short of options in midfield but there seem to be a dearth of creativity in the middle of the pack for them. Juan Mata, who can play behind the striker and any of the flanks is known to have a tricky left foot and he’s the most creative midfielder for the side – the Spaniard is adept at cutting from the left and laying-off inch-perfect passes for his attackers. Alas, Mata has struggled to stake a claim in the first team of United simply because he is not good enough.
Jose Mourinho signed on Fred to bridge the creativity gap but the aforementioned Brazilian does not play with the finesse of a no.10. If United are serious about their title ambition, they must sign a traditional play-maker in the mould of Philipe Coutinho or even Arthur Melo. Betting will be made easier for the fans if United signs an attacking midfielder that knows how to retain ball possession while offering threats creatively in attack.
One of the weaknesses of the Man United squad appear to be the full back positions. Luke Shaw was one of the standout performers for the squad last season but he is the only established and reliable player for the position. Ashley Young has played as a left back but given his age and recent show-offs, you do not want to depend on him as it is given that he has surpassed the twilight of his career. Solskjaer must move to sign a left full back.
Diogo Dalot joined from Porto last summer but the Portuguese has failed to impress enough. Solskjaer has deployed him as a winger but that may just be a defensive tactics for the flank. Dalot represents the future of United but the club can make do with a more assured right full back. Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia are expected to be moved on, which will leave the club with thin options for the position.