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Manchester United’s deadwood problem

Since Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United eight years ago, United’s recruitment has been questionable; there’s been some great signings like Bruno Fernandes but some terrible signings like Alexis Sanchez. These recruitment issues have caused a major build-up of deadwood in the United ranks over the years leaving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a lot of the previous manager’s mess. 

Subsequently this causes an influx of players to be left at United who are clearly not good enough, but they are eating the wages up, increasing United’s overall wage bill making it harder to offload these players and thus harder to recruit other players because the wage bill needs to be lowered.

The root to this problem is the structure at the club. Once Ferguson retired, a lot of the footballing men at the club also left. leaving a complex hierarchy that needs experienced personnel with the football clubs’ best interests at heart, to the role of businessmen. These businessmen include Matt Judge and Ed Woodward in particular. 

The main issue with these businessmen is priorities. Their priority is capital, and what will save and raise the most amount of money as possible. They don’t put the team’s best interests at heart but more the club’s financial position treating it like a business. 

As a result, when in the transfer window, despite the managers best wishes, players can be signed due to their public relations value rather than their footballing ability. Signings like Alexis Sanchez and Angel Di Maria where PR signings that were there to please the fans resulting in huge shirt sales and media attention. 

This doesn’t help the team at all as it can often mean bringing in a player that doesn’t have his heart set on a move and thus doesn’t respect the United shirt enough and soon becomes deadwood as their effort levels drop. To combat this, Solskjaer has started a rebuild on the team as well as the actual structure at United bringing in Darren Fletcher and John Murtough into roles that footballing men are more suited to. 

Murtough was recently hired as the ‘football director’ who’s role is to discusses directly with Solskjaer on targets before the negotiators approach the club and player. Previously, Woodward had had a lot of power in these situations, and this led to the deadwood being brought in but now with a footballing man discussing these transfers it can help reduce this. However, as seen with this current transfer window, despite the changes in structure, United are still struggling to sell off their deadwood. 

This is due to the astronomical wages these players have been put on under the poor recruitment. In previous years, too many signings were because of money rather than the passion and desire to play for the club. This summer the approach has changed as United are bringing in players like Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo who are all players who are hungry and want to play for the club. This is a testament to Solskjaer’s progression with the rebuild as players of this calibre were not signing for United previously. 

With these new signings having a real desire to play for United, it means the club doesn’t have to offer them huge wages making them harder to sell off in the future. To ensure that this deadwood problem doesn’t get worse, Solskjaer must keep only looking at players who will fight for the badge and aren’t in it for the money. 

Solskjaer and United should keep looking at upgrading the recruitment and changing staff to fit the clubs DNA and morals better. These gradual changes will ultimately make United a much better run club in general taking them back to the efficiency under Ferguson. 

At the club now there’s several players that United need to ship out. This includes Phil Jones, Andreas Pereira, Diogo Dalot, arguably Juan Mata and potentially Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic. Some view Mata as a vital member of the squad especially for his presence in the dressing room and thus not to be considered as deadwood, whereas others perceive him as past his best and now eating up wages. 

Lingard, on the other hand, is loved by a lot of United fans but could become deadwood if he stays at United because he’s unlikely to get many minutes for the team. Meanwhile, with the injury of Scott McTominay and the unlikely chance that a midfielder comes in so late in the window, Matic could prove a crucial part of the squad especially as he’s the only natural defensive midfielder. 

However, some feel due to his age he’s no longer at his best and can be a liability. Due to his unique skill set that United currently lack, I feel he is more important than some people realise and could be key for United this season so shouldn’t be sold off unless another defensive midfielder is brought in. Diogo Dalot is still a young player being only 22 and with Aaron Wan-Bissaka lacking competition some feel he must stay. 

Solskjaer, on the other hand, doesn’t seem particularly satisfied with Dalot and looks keen to get him out on loan or permanently sell him and thus he might be seen as deadwood especially in Solskjaer’s eyes. A player Solskjaer has looked at with great interest is Kieran Trippier. He’s a 30-year-old English right-back playing for Atletico Madrid in Spain and being a Manchester boy would love to go to United. 

This would fit the requirements that Solskjaer is trying to create as despite his age he would work incredibly hard and provide great competition for Wan-Bissaka. Therefore, if United can move Dalot on loan, that could open the opportunity to bring in Trippier who would strengthen the right-hand side even more. With Phil Jones and Andreas Pereira, most fans believe they are deadwood and their time at the club is up. Since Fernandes’ arrival, Pereira has barely had a look in and was loaned off out to Lazio last year but wasn’t majorly successful. 

If Lingard is to stay at the club, he would be third choice which would be a waste of his time and United’s. Phil Jones at one point looked like he could be a great player with Sir Alex Ferguson saying “I think Jones may be one of the best players we have ever had.” But he’s been plagued with injuries in the last couple years and with the recent signing of Raphael Varane it just pushes him further down the pecking order. Jones is on high wages, and many believe he must go as he’ll never play and is wasted at the club but due to his horrendous injury record and high wages it’s difficult to find any suitors. 

Overall, I feel the structure at this club is improving under Solskjaer’s management and with more time he could make it more and more effective. United must focus on only bringing in players that want to play for the club and keeping the wage bill down else they’ll struggle with deadwood issues again as they can’t ship these players off as their wages are too high. 

Then to keep taking this team forward, Solskjaer must get Pereira and Jones out definitely and then look to ease out Dalot, Lingard, Matic and Mata in the coming years if suitable replacements are available as it’ll reduce the wage bill and as these players are getting older it will bring fresh impetus into the club which could lead to a successful tenure for Manchester United under Solskjaer.

Written by Ethan Bents

Loan Watch: Dalot scores goal and assist, Garner and Levitt frustration, debuts for Pereira and Bernard

Manchester United have twelve players on loan so far during the 2020/21 season; Tahith Chong, 20, at Werder Bremen, Matej Kovar, 20 at Swindon Town, Dylan Levitt, 19, at Charlton Athletic, Joel Pereira, 24, at Huddersfield Town, Aliou Traore, 19, at Stade Malherbe Caen, James Garner, 19, at Watford, Andreas Pereira, 24, at Lazio, Diogo Dalot, 21, at AC Milan, Max Taylor, 20, at Kidderminster Harriers, Di’Shon Bernard, 20, at Salford City, Max Haygarth, 18, at Brentford B and Jacob Carney, 19, at Brighouse Town. Many of the players on loan will be seeking to impress their loan clubs and United, seeking to find a way into first team football as soon as they can.

Tahith Chong

Last Match: Werder Bremen 1-1 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim – Bundesliga

Tahith Chong, 20, came off the bench in the 87th minute, replacing the injured Yuya Osako in the 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim on Sunday. Chong has not really had many minutes so far this season, starting just one match this season, which was the 4-1 defeat to Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga, coming off the bench four times. Chong has played a total of 128 minutes of football this season, playing in the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal. He has scored one competitive goal in the German Cup competition and probably needs to so a lot more to get back in contention to start matches, which does not look good for him at this stage of the season.

Next Match: Eintracht Frankfurt (A) – 31 October – Bundesliga

Matej Kovar

Last Match: Northampton Town 2-1 Swindon Town – League One

Matej Kovar, 20, played another 90 minutes on Tuesday evening in the 2-1 defeat to Northampton Town in League One. Kovar saw himself conceded a further two goals for the club this season, conceding a total of 19 goals fo far this season. He will be hoping that the visit to the Kassam Stadium on Oxford this weekend will deliver an upturn in the clubs form. Swindon’s next two matches against Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium and Accrington Stanley at the County Ground were suspended following recent positive COVID-19 tests at the club with players and staff needing to self isolate as per the EFL and Government guidance.

Next Match: Hull City (H) – 31 October – League One

Dylan Levitt

Last Match: Charlton Athletic 2-0 Oxford United – League One

Dylan Levitt, 19, was an unused substitute in the 1-0 victory over Blackbool in League One on Tuesday evening. Both teams were reduced to ten-men in the match with Blackpool’s James Husband sent off in the second minute and Charlton’s Ben Purrington sent off for a second bookable offence in the 39th minute of the match. Levitt then started in the 2-0 victory over Northampton Town last Saturday but was taken off at half time with Darren Prattley, who replaced Levitt scoring the opening goal of the match. Levitt was then an unused substitute in the 2-0 victory over Oxford United, a match in which Ryan Inniss was send off in the 66th minute.

Next Match: Portsmouth (A) – 31 October – League One

Joel Pereira

Last Match: Huddersfield Town 0-0 Preston North End – Championship

Joel Pereira, 24, was once again an unused substitute in the 1-0 home victory over Derby County in the Championship last Tuesday evening, the 2-1 defeat to Preston North End in the Championship on Saturday and the 2-1 defeat to Birmingham City in the Championship on Wednesday evening. It does not seem like the player is going to get many opportunities at Huddersfield this season, having been on the bench for the last nine matches without a hint of action. It really does not look good for Pereira this season, especially with the expire of his contract at United coming at the end of the 2020/21 season. It seems unlikely that United will extend.

Next Match: Millwall (A) – 31 October – Championship

Aliou Traore

Last Match: Stade Malherbe Caen 1-0 En Avant de Guingamp – Ligue 2

Aliou Traore, 19, came off the bench for Caen in their 1-0 victory over Guingamp on Saturday. He has spent the past six weeks out go action through illness, playing for the youth team earlier this month. Traore came off the bench in the 71st minute of the match, replacing Kelian Nsona. The winner came in the 90th minute through substitute Jessy Deminguet, who had been on the pitch for four minutes, assisted by Yoann Court. Traore will be seeking to get back into a starting position for his club, starting with this weekend’s clash with Paris FC, which could help him work out where his career is going to go from the end of the season.

Next Match: Paris FC (A) – 31 October – Ligue 2

James Garner

Last Match: Wycombe Wanderers 1-1 Watford – Championship

James Garner, 19, started in the 1-1 draw with Bournemouth in the Championship on Saturday but was substituted by Étienne Capoue at the start of the second half after a mixed half for Watford. Stipe Perica, assisted by Ismaïla Sarr opened the scoring in the 12th minute of the match with Bournemouth equalising in added time. Garner then came off the bench, replacing Tom Cleverley at the death in the 1-1 draw with Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday evening. Sarr opened the scoring in the 52nd minute of the match with Wycombe equalising 14 minutes later. It has been a tough week for Garner, who could be looking to start against Barnsley.

Next Match: Barnsley (A) – 31 October – Championship

Andreas Pereira

Last Match: Clube Brugge KV 1-1 Lazio – UEFA Champions League

Andreas Pereira, 24, missed the 3-1 UEFA Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund through injury last Tuesday evening. Pereira then made his debut, from the bench, replacing Luis Alberto at the start of the second half in the 2-1 victory over Bologna. Alberto scored the opening goal in the 54th minute with Ciro Immobile doubling the lead in the 76th minute. Lorenzo De Silvestri scored a consolation in added time. Pereira then made his Champions League debut for Lazio replacing the injured Patric in the 46th minute of the 1-1 draw with Brugge. Lazio opened the scoring in the 14th minute through Joaquín Correa with Brugge equalising in the 42nd.

Next Match: Torino (A) – 1 November – Serie A

Diogo Dalot

Last Match: AC Milan 3-0 Sparta Prague – UEFA Europa League

Diogo Dalot, 21, made his Milan debut last week in a 3-1 victory over Celtic in the Europa League. The 21-year-old started in the competition in his favoured right back position. Dalot played 90 minutes in the victory. He was then an unused substitute in the 3-3 draw with AS Roma in the Serie A. On Thursday evening, Dalot started for Milan in the left-back position in the Europa League against Sparta Prague. Milan won the match 3-0 – it could have been 4-0 had Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted a penalty. Dalot assisted for Rafael Leão’s goal, putting Milan 2-0 up in the 57th minute, scoring a goal himself in the 67th minute of the match to complete the victory.

Next Match: Udinese (A) – 1 November – Serie A

Max Taylor

Last Match: Chorley 0-2 Kidderminster Harriers – National League North

Max Taylor, 20, played 90 minutes in the 2-0 victory over Chorley in the National League North. The defender will be seeking to get his playing career back to full speed after beating testicular cancer last year following nine weeks of chemotherapy. He was given a one-year contract extension at United which will expire at the end of the season but was loaned to Kidderminster until January, giving him first team experience which could allow him to find full fitness and form ahead of returning to United’s U23s, which could in turn see him offered a longer contract at the Old Trafford club. His mettle was tested with cancer so has what it takes to succeed.

Next Match: Blyth Spartans (H) – 31 October – National League North

Di’Shon Bernard

Last Match: Salford City 1-1 Crawley Town – League Two

Di’Shon Bernard, 20, played no involvement in Salford’s 3-0 home victory over Southend United on Tuesday evening. Former United forward James Wilson scored the second goal of the evening for Paul Scholes’ side. He made his debut in the 1-1 draw with Crawley Town, replacing Oscar Threlkeld in the 62nd minute of the match. Former United player James Wilson put Salford ahead five minutes before Bernard was brought on but Crawley equalised in the 72nd minute through George Francomb. Bernard will be seeking to be involved in the clash with Oldham, which was the club that Scholes first managed.

Next Match: Oldham Athletic (A) – 31 October – League Two

Max Haygarth

Last Match: Hendon FC 2-6 Brentford B – London Senior Cup

Max Haygarth, 18, made his debut in the second round of the London Senior Cup in the 6-2 victory over Hendon FC on Tuesday evening at Silver Jubilee Park. Haygarth started the match on the bench and replaced Alex Gilbert in the 78th minute of the match, playing for the remaining twelve minutes of the victory. The 18-year-old will be seeking to play to a good level this season, after his debut with Brentford B, possible taking his experience back to United at the end of his loan spell with the club to hopefully propel himself into regular appearances at the U23 level, seeking to impress his manager and coaches at the club.

Next Match: Aldershot Town (H) – 30 October – Friendly

Jacob Carney

Last Match: Brighouse Town 2-0 Pontefract Collieries – NPL Division One NW

Jacob Carney, 19, made his second start for Brighouse Town on Tuesday evening in their 1-0 defeat to Pickering Town. Carney was named the Man of the Match in the defeat, which is good for the 19-year-old who will be seeking to further his career as a goalkeeper whilst on loan with the club. Carney started the 2-0 victory over Pontefract Collieries in the Northern Premier League Division One. It will be good for him to play first team football at this level, which might be seen as below the standard of U23 football at United, but will help him find his feet in the future, whether his career continues at United or beyond.

Next Match: Buxton FC (H) – 31 October – FA Trophy

Written by John Walker

Loan Watch: Bernard, Haygarth and Carney loaned out – plus see how Chong, Garner, Kovar and Taylor did

Manchester United have twelve players on loan so far during the 2020/21 season; Tahith Chong, 20, at Werder Bremen, Matej Kovar, 20 at Swindon Town, Dylan Levitt, 19, at Charlton Athletic, Joel Pereira, 24, at Huddersfield Town, Aliou Traore, 19, at Stade Malherbe Caen, James Garner, 19, at Watford, Andreas Pereira, 24, at Lazio, Diogo Dalot, 21, at AC Milan, Max Taylor, 20, at Kidderminster Harriers, Di’Shon Bernard, 20, at Salford City, Max Haygarth, 18, at Brentford B and Jacob Carney, 19, at Brighouse Town. Many of the players on loan will be seeking to impress their loan clubs and United, seeking to find a way into first team football as soon as they can.

Tahith Chong

Last Match: SC Freiburg 1-1 Werder Bremen – Bundesliga

Tahith Chong, 20, was an unused substitute in the 1-1 draw to Frieburg on Saturday. The home side took the lead through Philipp Lienhart, assisted by Lucas Höler in the 15th minute of the match. The lead was short-lived with Bremen equalising through Niclas Füllkrug, assisted by Leonardo Bittencourt just ten minutes later. Chong has played just 125 minutes for Bremen so far this season and I get the impression that he will need to do a lot more to get himself into the starting XI on a more consistent basis. Granted, he’s only 20 and has just moved to a different country but I feel that he should be doing more as the bar at United is going to be very high.

Next Match: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (H) – 25 October – Bundesliga

Matej Kovar

Last Match: Swindon Town 0-2 Sunderland – League One

Matej Kovar, 20, started once against for his loan club in their League One match against Sunderland at the County Ground on Saturday. Charlie Wyke opened the scoring in the 35th minute of the match and the second goal coming from the penalty spot with Chris Maguire converting in the 57th minute of the match. It does not look like it is going to be a good season for Kovar at Swindon with him conceding 17 goals in the matches he has played in this season. Swindon had five defenders on the pitch against Sunderland and still could not find and strength. Hopefully, this will not affect the confidence of the goalkeeper, who has a positive career ahead.

Next Match: Northampton Town (A) – 20 October – League One

Dylan Levitt

Last Match: Charlton Athletic 1-0 Wigan Athletic – League One

Dylan Levitt, 19, was an unused substitute against Wigan Athletic in League One on Saturday afternoon. Jake Forster-Caskey scored the only goal of the game ion the 65th minute of the match from 30-yards, from the free-kick, sneaking it in off the post to take the lead. Levitt has played 251 minutes for Charlton so far this season, playing in the Carabao Cup and the league, seeking more first team football to aid his career. Already a regular starter for Wales under Ryan Giggs, the 19-year-old clearly has something in his locker which could aid him during his career, whether at United or elsewhere, which would be a shame if so.

Next Match: Blackpool (A) – 20 October – League One

Joel Pereira

Last Match: Swansea City 1-2 Huddersfield Town – Championship

Joel Pereira, 24, was an unused substitute once again in the 2-1 victory over Swansea City in the Championship on Saturday afternoon at the Liberty Stadium. Huddersfield took the lead in the 23rd minute of that match through Harry Toffolo, assisted by Juninho Bacuna. The the home side equalised through André Ayew from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute of the match. The away side scored the winner in the 67th minute through Josh Koroma, assisted by Richard Stearman. In the six matches that have been played so far this season, Pereira has not had a look in once and it would seem that this would be likely to continue throughout the season.

Next Match: Derby County (H) – 17 October – Championship

Aliou Traore

Last Match: Chamois Niort 3-0 Stade Malherbe Caen – Ligue 2

Aliou Traore, 19, was once again not involved in the 3-0 defeat to Chamois Niort in Ligue 2 on Saturday. Traore was ill a month ago, playing both first team matches against Clermont Foot, a 0-0 draw and against AC Ajacciom a 1-0 victory, playing 34 minutes between the two matches. He also feature three times for the youth team, playing against FC Rouen 1899, a 1-1 draw, FC Versailles, a 1-0 victory – playing 106 minutes of football before illness. On the 10th October, Traore played for the youth team once again, against Vannes, a 0-0 draw, playing 63 minutes of football. He might have a but more to do to break into the first team once more, now he is better.

Next Match: En Avant de Guingamp (H) – 24 October – Ligue 2

James Garner

Last Match: Derby County 0-1 Watford – Championship

James Garner, 19, started on the bench against Derby County at Pride Park on Friday evening in the Championship. After a tough match between the two sides, Watford scored the only goal of the game in the 76th minute of the match through João Pedro, assisted by Ben Wilmot. It looked as if Garner would not feature for his loan club in that match but in the final minute, he replaced Domingos Quina, playing one minute plus stoppage time in the victory. He came up against former United forward Wayne Rooney, who is the captain for Derby, which would have been good for him. However, it would have been better if he played more football.

Next Match: Blackburn Rovers (H) – 21 October – Championship

Andreas Pereira

Last Match: Sampdoria 3-0 Lazio – Serie A

Andreas Pereira, 24, was not involved in the 3-0 defeat to Sampdoria in Serie A on Saturday afternoon. It was the first match he was eligible to play in following his loan spell commencing at the Italian club. It was expected that he would not feature much for United this season, having had no involvement at the club since last season. To break into the Lazio side, he will need to impress, despite the fact the club has beaten just Cagliari this season, drawing against Inter Milan and losing to Sampdoria and Atalanta. He might play more first team football than he would have at United with so many players that offer so much more than him.

Next Match: Borussia Dortmund (H) – 20 October – UEFA Champions League

Diogo Dalot

Last Match: Inter Milan 1-2 AC Milan – Serie A

Diogo Dalot, 21, was an unused substitute in the 20-1 victory over Inter Milan at the San Siro on Saturday in the Serie A. Former United forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a brace in the 13ht and 16 minutes of the match, his second goal assisted by Rafael Leão. Inter hit back though another former United forward, Romelu Lukaku, assisted by Ivan Perisic in the 29th minute of the match. Dalot will have also seen another United forward, Alexis Sanchez who came on late in the match. Ashley Young was not involved in the match or the reunion. The Portuguese right-back is a future talent by United but his participation might be a minimum in Milan.

Next Match: Celtic (A) – 22 October – UEFA Europa League

Max Taylor

Last Match: Darlington 1-3 Kidderminster Harriers – National League North

Max Taylor, 20, was loaned ot Kidderminster Harriers at the start of October, initially until January. The club have not played since the 10th October as their Vanarama National League North match against Alfreton Town this weekend was postponed. Taylor has made three starts for the club in the 4-2 penalty defeat against Alvechurch in the qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup, where he was booked, the 2-1 defeat to Chester, where he was also booked and the 3-1 victory over Darlington. Taylor might be better off with first team experience this season which might see him earn the experience to break into United’s first tea, next season, maybe?

Next Match: Chorley (A) – 24 October – National League North

Di’Shon Bernard

Last Match: Port Vale 1-0 Salford City – League Two

Di’Shon Bernard, 20, was loaned to Salford City initially until January before the closer of the domestic transfer window on Friday. Bernard was unable to play against Port Vale in the 1-0 defeat at Vale Park this weekend but will be seeking to get more first team action as soon as he can. The Ammies will be cack in League Two action on Tuesday evening at The Peninsula Stadium, welcoming Southend United where they will be seeking to get back to winning ways after their first league defeat of the season. Bernard will be looking to get his career noticed at first team level as he may be seeking to break into the United squad, which will be tough for him.

Next Match: Southend United (H) – 20 October – League Two

Max Haygarth

Last Match: Aldershot Town 3-2 Brentford B – Friendly

Max Haygarth, 18, was loaned to Brentford B before the closure of the domestic transfer window in Friday. Haygarth could feature for his loan club for the first time on Tuesday when Brentford B tase Hendon FC in the London Senior Cup at the Avenue Park Stadium. The midfielder will be seeking to find himself a regular starting place at the club, which might be tough for him. He will link up with former United academy player Ben Hockenhull, who left the club on the summer. Brentford’s academy was closed at the end of the 2015/16 season, relaunched as Brentford B and the team plays friendly matches against U21 and U23 teams home and abroad.

Next Match: Hendon FC (A) – 20 October – London Senior Cup

Jacob Carney

Last Match: Kendal Town 1-0 Brighouse Town – NPL Division One NW

Jacob Carney, 19, was only signed by Brighouse Town on Friday as the domestic transfer window closed. However, he started against Kendal Town in the NPL Division One NW, conceding the only goal of the match in the 35th minute with Emil Jaaskelainen scoring. It was good to see Carney start in his first match out on loan, with him due to remain at the club until January. It may not be the top level of football but it will be good for him to get some matches under his belt and see what he can do in the future. United have many goalkeepers in the youth ranks, so it will be a challenge to make the grade at United, hence the loan spell to see if he can do more.

Next Match: Pickering Town (A) – 20 October – NPL Division One NW

Written by John Walker

Loan Watch: Dalot signs for Milan, Pereira signs for Lazio, Garner raising his game for Watford

Manchester United have seven players on loan so far during the 2020/21 season; Tahith Chong, 20, at Bundesliga side Werder Bremen, Matej Kovar, 20 at League One side Swindon Town, Dylan Levitt, 19, at League One side Charlton Athletic, Joel Pereira, 24, at Championship side Huddersfield Town, Aliou Traore, 19, at Ligue 2 side Stade Malherbe Caen, James Garner, 19, at Championship side Watford, Andreas Pereira, 24, at Serie A side Lazio and Diogo Dalot, 21, at Serie A side AC Milan. As the summer transfer window comes to a close, there could well be more players loaned out, especially with a domestic window from the 5-16 October.

Tahith Chong

Werder Bremen 1-0 Arminia Bielefeld – Bundesliga

Tahith Chong, 20, came off the bench and played 15 minutes in the 1-0 victory over Arminia Bielefeld in the Bundesliga on Saturday afternoon. Bremen scored through Leonardo Bittencourt in the 27th minute of the match which was assisted by Jean Manuel Mbom. It sees the German side rise to sixth in the Bundesliga this season. So far, Chong has made four appearances for the club, three in the Bundesliga and one in the DFB-Pokal playing a total of 125 minutes of action so far. The 20-year-old will be hoping to play a more regular role this season, scoring more goals to add to the one he scored in the DFB-Pokal against Carl Zeiss Jena.

Next Match: SC Freiburg (A) – 17 October – Bundesliga

Matej Kovar

Peterborough 3-1 Swindon Town – League One

Matej Kovar, 20, started and played 90 minutes in the 3-1 defeat to Peterborough on Saturday. Swindon have won twice in their last four League One matches this season, but still have not picked up any points on the road. Jack Payne opened he scoring for Swindon in the eighth minute of the match but three second half goals ended the good feeling for Swindon after Jonson Clarke-Harris scored a brace in the 48th and 69th minutes, the second from the penalty spot with Ryan Broom concussing the scoring on the 78th minute of the match. Kovar has been unfortunate this season, conceding 14 goals in six appearances so far this season.

Next Match: Exeter City (H) – 6 October – EFL Trophy

Dylan Levitt

Charlton Athletic 0-0 Sunderland – League One

Dylan Levitt, 19, started in the 0-0 draw against Sunderland on Saturday in League One. The 19-year-old was booked in the 58th minute for a foul and seemed to play well for Charlton, who have set their sights on reaching the Premier League in the near future – which might be a stretch. He only played 84 minutes during the match having been replaced by Marcus Maddison. He will be happy with the game time that he has had to far this season and will be seeking to impress his manager for the remainder of the season. If you have seen Levitt play, you will know that he has the talent to succeed and playing in League One will be good for him.

Next Match: Wigan Athletic (H) – 17 October – League One

Joel Pereira

Rotherham 1-1 Huddersfield Town – Championship

Joel Pereira, 24, one again was unused substitute in the 1-1 draw against Rotherham on Saturday in the Championship. The Portuguese goalkeeper had not yet played a single minute for his loan club and looks to be rooted to the bench with Ben Hamer seen as the number one goalkeeper at the club. It makes you wonder if Pereira has any chance of succeeding anywhere or whether each loan spell will continue to be a waste of time for him as he is not playing much football at all. He seemed to be a confident and talented goalkeeper a few years back but nothing seems to be going right for him. He might player after the international break.

Next Match: Swansea City (A) – 17 October – Championship

Aliou Traore

Stade Malherbe Caen 1-0 Amiens – Ligue 2

Aliou Traore, 19, did not feature in the 1-0 Ligue 2 victory over Amiens on Saturday. In recent weeks he has been ill and is expected to still be recovering. He has played in two first team matches the season and two youth league matches, missing the last four matches for the first team. The next match for Caen will be played after the international break so Traore could be well enough to be considered for the first team after the break to the club league season. It is not yet known as to whether the player has a future at United after this season as his desire to play first team football is strong. It could well be that this is the start of a permanent exit for him.

Next Match: Niort (A) – 17 October – Ligue 2

James Garner

Reading 1-0 Watford – Championship

James Garner, 19, made another start for Watford in the 1-0 defeat to Reading at the Madejski Stadium, playing 90 minutes. It was an unfortunate result for Watford with the home side opening the scoring in the 41st minute of the match through record signing George Puscas, assisted by Tom Holmes. Garner ratted the crossbar with a stunning free-kick in the 23rd minute of the match, which looked destined for the back of the net. Garner has the talent to succeed at Watford this season and will be learning a lot playing first team football in the Championship. With the international break, he will be seeking to start again against Derby at Pride Park.

Next Match: Derby County (A) – 16 October – Championship

Andreas Pereira

Lazio 1-1 Inter Milan – Serie A

Andreas Pereira, 24, was signed by Serie A side Lazio late last week and was not involved in the 1-1 draw to Inter Milan on Sunday. Pereira has not played since last season and was not likely to get many matches at United this season based on the players they have in midfield, who are all likelier to feature more than him. It will be his third loan spell away from United and it could well be his last as he’s never really made an impact at the club. After the international break, Pereira will be seeking to break into the starting XI at Lazio and it will be interesting if he does and what position he will play in Italy. It could be the start of something for him.

Next Match: Sampdoria (A) – 17 October – Serie A

Diogo Dalot

AC Milan 3-0 Spezia Calcio – Serie A

Diogo Dalot, 21, was confirmed as an AC Milan player on Sunday as the club beat Spezia Calcio 3-0 in the Serie A. Dalot last played for United against Brighton and Hove Albion in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening in a 3-0 victory. Rafael Leão scored a brace in the 57th and 78th minutes of the match with Theo Hernández scoring in the 76th minute of the match to complete the scoring. Milan sit second in the table with nine points in three matches only goal difference between them and league leaders Atalanta. Dalot will be seeking to get some first team experience for the club this season which could commence in their next match – the Milan derby.

Next Match: Inter Milan (A) – 17 October – Serie A

Written by John Walker

Manchester United might need to offload six more players this summer

Manchester United have a 31-man first team squad at this moment in time which consists of experienced players and players who have come through the clubs academy, that might yet be loaned out this summer. If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going to bring in more new faces to join Donny van de Beek at the Old Trafford club, he might yet need to clear a few more players out from the club to make room. United need an injection of quality this summer as other than the starting XI and a few other players, there is a severe lack of quality in the squad.

It is possible that six players could leave the club this summer, even after Alexis Sanchez, who left as a free agent and signed for Inter Milan. Chris Smalling is linked with an exit to AS Roma, a club that he spent last season on loan with, which saw him quickly find his feet in Italy and look to be heading back to his best after a turbulent few years at United. Two other defenders could be on their last legs at United; Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones. Rojo was loaned out to Estudiantes in January with Jones missing much of the season due to injury, again.

Solskjaer may not allow three central defenders to leave the club this summer, without one coming in although Axel Tuanzebe should be fit this month and Solskjaer has Teden Mengi coming through the ranks in the academy but one signing would be good this summer, if a player is available that would benefit the squad. United cannot continue with Rojo and Jones at the club though and will need to part ways with them sooner or later as they do not offer much benefit in the squad moving forward.

Andreas Pereira is another player who could find it hard to continue at United as the club has better players that him on the squad. The arrival of Bruno Fernandes in January made things hard for Pereira and Van de Beek’s arrival has made it even more difficult for him. Pereira has passion but in terms of what kind of player he is, it is not all that obvious as he’s played defensive midfield, central midfield, attacking midfield and even as a winger – he just does not seem to have an established role at United.

Jesse Lingard is another player that would benefit away from Old Trafford, as would United benefit from his departure. I have nothing against him but over the last two years or so, there has been little output from the player – he literally scored his first Premier League goal of the season in United’s final game against Leicester City. Off the field, his life had been dealt a blow with the illness of his mother but that is not excuse not to put in the work and find the form needed to be a footballer. United would be much better off if they could find a buyer for the player.

The last of the six players is Sergio Romero. It is not ideal that he might leave the club as for the past five years he has been the best number two goalkeeper in the Premier League. The Argentinian has been linked to Everton, Leeds United, Aston Villa and Chelsea, although the latter does not seem to be a viable option with the club looking at alternatives. There was suggestion that Villa were close to completing a deal for the player last week but nothing has happened yet.

Solskjaer has been seeking to rebuild United since he replaced Jose Mourinho as the manager of the club in December 2018 after his sacking. He initially did well then in March 2019 he was made the permanent manager and things stuttered that season with United seeking to make improvements during the 2019/20 season. The season started well, stuttered again but after Fernandes’ arrival, United changed completely and earned a third-placed finish in the Premier League, earning UEFA Champions League football for the 2020/21 season.

So far this summer, United have signed Van de Beek from Ajax. They have been linked to Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund all summer but the deadline to sign the player elapsed with the German club seeming determined to keep the player for the 2020/21 season. United still have him as their number one target though. With the midfield the best it has been since Sir Alex Ferguson managed the club, signing a central defender, aa left-back, a right-winger and a striker would be good for the club but only so much can happen this summer.

Written by John Walker

Benfica interested in Andreas Pereira as player not in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans

Portuguese club Benfica are reportedly interested in signing Manchester United midfielder Andreas Pereira this summer. The Belgian-born Brazilian was a regular in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s midfield in the early part of the 2019/20 season with Paul Pogba on the sidelines through injury and United needing to find a way to breakdown their opposition. However, in the latter stages of the season, after Bruno Fernandes arrived at the club, Pereira featured very little.

Pereira was quickly replaced in the squad by either Fred or Scott McTominay and then when Fernandes had arrived and Pogba was fit, Pereira was sometimes not even on the bench in Solskjaer’s squad. ESPN have claimed that the player could be on hi sway to Benfica this summer, who are said to be interested in bolstering their squad with the 24-year-old. Pereira is a good player but this season has drawn a line under the fact that he is not of Manchester United quality.

It is suggested that Solskjaer still likes Pereira and would like to keep him around, however, the manager could not give the player any assurances regarding his playing time. He does need to be a regular starter and with Pogba, Fernandes, Fred, McTominay and Matic all ahead of it, he is not likely to get much at United going forward, which would suggest that him moving on would be better for his career otherwise it may be too late for him to establish himself elsewhere.

During the 2019/20 season, Pereira made a total of 40 appearances for the club, scoring two goals and four assists, playing 2,267 minutes of football. Fernandes has played 1,832 minutes of football since signing for United, making 22 appearances for the club and scoring 12 goals and eight assists. At the end of the day, to be an attack minded player, Fernandes’ stats are what you should be aiming to match, not six goal contributions in total. Pereira was an exciting player coming through the academy though.

That said, not every player will make the grade and despite Solskjaer wanting to keep him at the club but unable to offer him much playing time, it would seem that now is the time to move on for the player. It is also stated that Valencia are also interested in signing the player – he spent a season on loan at the La Liga club only a few seasons ago but because of their financial problems, they are unlikely to be in a position to make a move for the player.

Pereira signed a new contract at United last summer which is set to expire in the summer of 2023 and there is an option for another year to be added. Pereira has played in many positions this season from attacking midfield, central midfield, right midfielder, a right-winger and even in defensive midfield. The fact that the player has not shone consistently in any of those positions is problematic. United should be seeking to get a good fee for the player, considering his contract length and should not sell the player for a low fee as they have done with many players over the years.

Written by John Walker

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must offload players to make Jadon Sancho signing

Manchester United must offload a string of players the summer in order to compete the signing of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund. United will need to pay £108 million for the 20-year-old and now that their season has come to an end, a year and five days since it started, the club will now have the time to engage in the summer transfer market in a bid to strengthen the squad this summer, adding players that will make the difference, not stutter and end up failing, like some of the current squad.

The Standard has claimed that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must end some careers at the club in order to have sufficient funds to get deals across the line this summer. Despite the supposed deadline to sign Sancho passing a week ago, United are still seeking to sign the English winger and are quickly coming to terms with the fact that they will need to pay the price that Dortmund want to receive for the player. Which is the position that should have been in before the deadline expired.

It is suggested that Solskjaer would like to make to more key signings as United lack depth in some areas, which has been seen by the clubs exit from the UEFA Europa League at the hands of Sevilla after suffering another 2-1 defeat to the Spanish side. It is suggested that a central defender and a midfielder would be brought in, in addition to Sancho, if the club managed to get Dortmund to part company with the player after the supposed deadline expired a week ago.

It has been stated that in the midfield area, both Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira have no future at the Old Trafford club. Both players have been at the club for a number of years and in the past two seasons, both players have not done enough to warrant a place in United’s squad. United will need to have strength in depth at the club and having players that can make a difference will be needed and both Lingard and Pereira have failed to do that when it matters the most.

In defence, United also have a number of players who are not adding much to the squad right now. These players are Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Diogo Dalot. Granted, Smalling has been on loan during the 2019/20 season, playing for AS Roma and there is a chance that the club could permanently sign the defender this summer, although Inter Milan are said to be interested too. Rojo was loaned out in January too. But for Jones and Dalot, neither have been involved much this season.

Solskjaer recently spoke about the summer transfer window, which so far the club have not made a move and will need to do so during the next month in order to have players in at the club before the new Premier League season starts. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it is suggested that United are losing out on £4 million per home match with supporters not yet allowed into stadiums. The Sun quoted Solskjaer as saying:

“I cannot say when or if transfers will be done, but we are looking at it. We have to be 100 per cent sure when we make those deals.

“It’s not about a marquee signing, it’s about quality. The right personality that fits into the group.”

Written by John Walker

Andreas Pereira set to demand an exit from Manchester United

Manchester United midfielder Andreas Pereira is being linked with an exit of the Old Trafford club this summer, despite the plea that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made to him, according to reports coming from Brazilian outlet Esporte Interativo. It is suggested that Pereira will be seeking to move to clubs in Spain, Portugal or Germany in search of regular playing time. This season, the Belgian-born Brazilian has made a total of 40 appearances for United, scoring two goals and four assists.

He has played a total of 2,267 minutes of football this season and last featured for United in their 2-1 victory over LASK, playing 26 minutes in that match. He was on the bench against FC Copenhagen, a match that United needed extra time and a penalty to win, but was not involved in the match. In terms of quality, I do not think Pereira has the ability to become a regular starter in the clubs midfield as Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic will always be ahead of him. He would be vying with the likes of Fred and Scott McTominay to become fourth choice at the club.

In terms of playing him as a number ten or on the wing, there are players in the squad much better than him with Fernandes, Pogba and Juan Mata more suited to the number ten role and Mason Greenwood and Daniel James more suited on the wing ahead of that, also with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial able to play on the wing, it would not put him in the top four players for each position. There have been questions about Pereira’s suitability for United for a long time – he never seems to be able to inspire United much, or become that player that will always pull it out of the bag.

When United signed Fernandes in January, it was suggested that Pereira could head in the other direction, both nothing materialised from that. The player has also been linked to Valencia, a club that he spent time on loan with during the 2017/18 season. Back in April though, Pereira had suggested that he would remain at United to help them win trophies, which is not something that he is going to inspire the club to do by himself, he would be a player carried by the better players at the club, which is not him being the difference, which is needed at the club. Pereira, speaking to the official Manchester United website back then, said:

“Even when I came to United at such a young age, going to United it’s, of course, a massive club, but I know that they are willing to give youth a chance.

“That is what happened with me. Ole knows we will always be there for him. The young players give our faith and do everything to protect him, as he gives all his trust to us.

“I’m very honoured and that’s why, as well, I want to stay at United. I want to fight for him, win games and win trophies.

“Getting there, it’s tough but staying at the top is the most difficult. You can get some stick sometimes. You can get glory days, bad days but the most important thing is to just keep your head down and keep working because at the end of it all if you work hard everything is going to be fine.”

If United are to challenge the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City to contest the Premier League title, the likes of Pereira will need to either leave the club or work much harder to compete at the level that will be needed to win trophies with Manchester United. It might well be a harsh thing to say but it is the truth. The player has underachieved at United and nobody seems to be certain as to what position is his best, even himself. Pereira has made 75 appearances for United, scoring four goals and five assists. The 2019/20 season has seen him play the most football he has for the club, which should leave him feeling happy and ready for the new season, however, he seems to be demanding more or threatening to leave, if this report is true, which is not the best way to be, at leats in my opinion.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United must sell four or five players to sign the likes of Jadon Sancho this summer – reports

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have to sell four or five players this summer if he is to make a move for Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho, or any other player that would cost the club a lot of money this summer. It is suggested that both Jesse Lingard and Alexis Sanchez will have to be sold.

Obviously, selling the likes of Sanchez and Lingard is not a major problem as one of them has offered slightly more in 18 months than Daniel James has brought to the club in a year, getting wages a lot lower than the Chilean who is clearly on a major decline. Lingard could not even look good against Norwich City on Saturday evening so no loss either.

Some might suggest it is harsh to say these things but I am just being truthful. Solskjaer will need to find buyers for these two players if Sancho is even going to be an option, although Solskjaer has not yet ruled a move out for the player this summer. It could be hard to get a club to sign Sanchez permanently based on his weekly wage at United.

Solskjaer has reportedly been told by Ed Woodward that he will need to clear some of the players he does not want in his squad before he would commit to an approach for Sancho this summer, so presumably, if this is true, Woodward has not yet ruled out a possibility of the club making a move for Sancho this summer.

With the current financial circumstances regarding the coronavirus pandemic, of where the future is uncertain with the fact that nobody knows when supporters will be allowed back into stadiums in the numbers that attended matches before the pandemic, therefore adding to the loss of income for football clubs in terms of match day revenue.

Because of this, United will need to be careful and not overcommit themselves, therefore clearing some big wages and players that do not seem to have a future at the club is the best way to create space for a player who would be costly both in terms of transfer wee and weekly wages, which is a logical way of doing things.

Three other names have been suggested including Andreas Pereira, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. There is a possibility that Smalling could still be sold to AS Roma this summer, if they are able to make it work with United’s valuation of the player more than the Italian club would want to pay, which seems to always be the case with these cheap clubs.

Phil Jones has made just eight appearances for United under Solskjaer this season, which is not enough playing time to even warrant a place for him in the squad. He does have a contract which will expire in the summer of 2023, with the option of another year, so he might be a problem to shift, however, he would be a good signing for Arsenal.

In terms of Pereira, personally I am yet to see a reason why he should retain his place at United. Despite making 38 appearance so far this season, he’s scored just two goals and four assists. His contract expires in 2023, with the option of another year and in terms of creativity, there is little for him to offer the club.

Solskjaer will have a lot to do this summer before the club could make a move for Sancho and it is suggested that the manager does not yet know how much he will have to spend this summer. United obviously need to sign a striker, but Odion Ighalo’s loan spell will expire at the end of January 2021, so the urgency this summer is lower than it could be.

A right-winger is a priority and this could transform United attack considerably, providing the player fits in to Solskjaer’s system and gels with the likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Odion Ighalo and Mason Greenwood, not to mention Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, who will offer the creativity from the midfield.

Some suggest that United need a central defender, however, with Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire and Axel Tuanzebe, presuming that one, two, or all of Jones, Smalling and Marcos Rojo leave the club this summer, would be adequate with United utilising the likes of Teden Mengi from the academy, should they be needed.

Manchester United to sacrifice Andreas Pereira to sign Donny van de Beek this summer – reports

Manchester United will apparently sacrifice Andreas Pereira in order to sign Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek this summer, according to reports. The 23-year-old Dutchman has been chased by Real Madrid but reports of the club not making any big signings this summer has seemingly given United a lead for the player.

United are also interested in signing Bayer Leverkusen attacking midfielder Kai Havertz, despite the player being heavily linked to Chelsea this summer with the club having reached an agreement with German international teammate Timo Werner, snatching the player from the clutches of Liverpool, who probably didn’t want him now.

It is said that United scouted both Havertz and Van de Beek before the coronavirus suspended world football in mid-March. United will be left to make a decision whether to fight Chelsea for Havertz or sign Van de Beek, who is also an exciting player. A player would have to leave the club for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to bring in another midfielder this summer.

Solskjaer is said to be a fan of both players and feels that they would slot ‘seamlessly slot in to the ambitious, hungry, young dynamic he’s created in United’s dressing room’. This seems all very positive after a turbulent summer transfer window last year, however, it will probably be the same with added drama, like there is every transfer window.

The Norwegian manager has been told that he would need to sell in order to buy another midfielder this summer, which has put Pereira into the spotlight after another poor season at the club. In 37 appearances this season, he has scored two goals and four assists, which is better than Jesse Lingard but just not good enough at all for a club like United.

Pereira signed a new contract last summer, which expires in the summer of 2023, albeit with an option to add another year. It could be problematic forcing the player out of the club and there would need to be suitors for the player. He will be surplus to requirements with Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic at the club, not to mention Havertz or Van de Beek too.

copyright: JW