Manchester United to continue to stick by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite unfortunate results

Manchester United are reportedly behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite an unfortunate run of results in which the club has won just two of their last four Premier League matches, winning three of their last seven matches in all competitions since the 11 September when United beat Newcastle United at Old Trafford, which was also Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to the Theatre of Dreams.

United failed to beat Everton in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday, a week after being defeated at home by Aston Villa, beating Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League in between the two fixtures. Club football is out of action until the 16 October because of the second international break of the season and Solskjaer will need to find a way to improve United’s results.

There has been a lot of frustration by supporters of the club, largely on social media with supporters in the stadium largely behind the squad and the manager. This frustration will grow if things do not improve, which seems kind of early considering that no team in the Premier League has took charge this season with United two points off the top spot after seven matches and with United in a good position in the Champions League.

The Sun have reported that they understand that the hierarchy of the Old Trafford club are fully behind the manager, which is backed up with Mike Phelan renewing his contract at the club and rumours suggesting that both Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna will do the same.

The thing that people seem to forget is that no manager has been given a good enough chance to change things at the club since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. David Moyes was sacked before the end of his first season, despite being given a six-year contract, Louis van Gaal was sacked after two seasons in charge and Jose Mourinho was sacked halfway through his third season at the club.

Since Solskjaer became the manager, the club has been changed considerably with an actual plan being followed, in terms of youth development, incoming and outgoing transfers and United are in a much stronger position that they were under Moyes, Van Gaal or Mourinho. That will be argued though as agendas tend to change people’s minds, especially when they want to be correct all of the time.

Personally, I back Solskjaer as I don’t think he is doing too badly but there are some things that need to change at the club, moving forward. I am not too sure that tactics are being used in the right way to strengthen United, the manager seems to dither in making changes, unless there is an injury and there are obvious flaws in the squad at this present time.

I don’t think any other manager coming in is going to fix these changes as they will have a different plan in their approach, which could put some players in the squad in a position whereby their place at the club is no longer guaranteed, which for some would be right but not necessarily for others. If the manager is changed now, United will go right back to square one and start again.

This will result in supporters demanding success and if they do not get it, the same will happen again. It seems that there is an immense lack of patience when it comes to Manchester United. Not every team will change things in line with what the supporters want and United have never been any different in this approach.

I believe that Solskjaer has a target that he needs to meet in order to guarantee his job and until that cannot be met, the club will stick by him. Supporters need to understand that demanding a manager to be sacked or a certain player to be signed is not really something that can have any control over. This is real life, not a computer game.

After the International break, United will have some big fixtures and winning them will be important to find out whether the club can compete for the Premier League title or not. They also have a double header in the Champions League, playing Atalanta home and away (20 October and 2 November). United will also face Liverpool (24 October), Tottenham Hotspur (30 October) and Manchester City (6 November).

If United get through performing well, they will be in a stronger position in the Premier League and the Champions League. But there are more tests on the horizon with a trips away to face Villarreal and Chelsea and Arsenal at home before the end of November. This is a make or break period for United and Solskjaer which I believe can be positive for the club, the players and the manager.

Written by John Walker

Opinion: Manchester United’s summer rebuild is in danger of falling apart

Manchester United had high hopes of entering the summer transfer window this year and continuing their rebuild of the Old Trafford club under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The coronavirus pandemic will be used as the main excuse for the club not spending a lot of money this summer, which was hinted at by the clubs executive vice-chairman during the lockdown in a call with investors. It is excuses like this which will bring a smile to the faces of the Glazers, who have taken major sums of money out of the club in their 15 years of ownership.

Swiss Ramble has confirmed recently that in the past five years, United has spent £209 million in the Glazer’s ownership structure which consists of £120 million in interest in debt secured to the club and £89 million in dividends. If you go back 10 years, the club has spent £838 million in financing, which consists of £488 million in interest, £251 million in debt repayment and £99 million in dividends. It is painful to read that this amount of money is being used to sustain an ownership that is not positive for the club, despite the amount of money brought in commercial revenue.

It is alarming that United are a club kept in debt all because the Glazers did not want to purchase the club with their own money. There is a lot of animosity when you talk about the Glazers. Some supporters are happy as the club has endured a lot of success during their ownership; winning – five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, four League Cups, six FA Community Shields, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Europa League and one FIFA Club World Cup.

United have suffered just four trophy less seasons under the Glazer ownership of the club, which sounds positive but if the Community Shield were to be removed, as it is not a major honour, it would mean that United have endured six trophy less seasons under the Glazer ownership. Sir Alex Ferguson won 14 of the 19 trophies won in the past 15 years, David Moyes won one, Louis van Gaal won one and Jose Mourinho won three. Post-Ferguson, you can see the ownership taking it’s toll on the club.

Post-Ferguson, United have employed four managers; one (Moyes) was sacked after nine months in charge, despite being given a six-year contract at the club. His successor, Van Gaal, signed a three-year contract but was sacked after two years and then Mourinho was brought in on a four-year contract and sacked two and a half years into it. Each manager was provided with funds to sign players, but the wrong players were signed by the club. Moyes was not backed properly and had his own faults.

Van Gaal recently talked about not landing any of his top targets at the club and Mourinho always seemed frustrated heading into his third season at the club, not getting the central defender that he wanted. Now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the manager of the club, steering the club into another direction, which seems to be different from his three predecessors. Talk of a rebuild of the club was rife. Solskjaer has a desire to bring in young and hungry players – building a team that Ferguson would have been proud of leading. However, in terms of achieving that, there are many limits.

Moyes was allowed to spend £64.6 million, signing Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata. Van Gaal spent £253.9 million, signing Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao (loan), Sergio Romero, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, Matteo Darmian, Memphis Depay, and Anthony Martial. Mourinho spent £397.6 million, signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Romelu Lukaku, Lee Grant, Diogo Dalot and Fred. This is a total of £716.1 million spend in just six seasons post-Ferguson.

Solskjaer has signed just six players in his time as United manager. The Norwegian has spend £222.7 million signing Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes, Odion Ighalo (loan), and Donny van de Beek. This is almost as much as Van Gaal had at the club and just over half of what Mourinho spent. In terms of players still remaining at the club from Solskjaer’s three predecessors, there are 12 out of 25 players still at the club – the rest being sold or released. If Solskjaer is to make a success out of his management at the club, he will need to be backed by Woodward and the Glazers. This summer, that may not happen.

United have gone from July 2014 when Woodward literally said; “We can do things in the transfer market that other clubs can only dream of. Watch this space.” To a place whereby the club is looking to blame the coronavirus pandemic for its financial insecurity, despite the club taking out a £140 million loan to sustain their financial viability during this turbulent time. Woodward, reported by the BBC, told investors;

“Nobody should be under any illusions about the scale of challenge facing everyone in football and it may not be ‘business as usual’ for any clubs, including ourselves, in the transfer market this summer.

“As ever our priority is the success of team, but we need visibility of the impact across the whole industry, including timings of the transfer window, and the wider financial picture, before we can talk about a return to normality.”

Despite signing Van de Beek this summer from Ajax, Solskjaer has yet to see any further signings for the first team despite being linked with a left-back, a central defender, a right-winger and perhaps a striker. The main target was said to be Jadon Sancho this summer, which has rumbled on throughout the summer. More recently, Sergio Reguilon was linked to United, which continued for a few days only for the player to be linked to Tottenham Hotspur instead, which seems to be the story of United right now. The ownership is happy to keep earning money for them to pocket but in terms of investing in this team, for the future, little is happening.

Solskjaer was expected to get rid of some of the dead wood at the club this summer with Chris Smalling linked to AS Roma, the club he was loaned to last summer. However, Roma has now signed Marash Kumbulla instead, leaving United with yet more egg on their face this summer, having at least six players that offer nothing to the club and seemingly happy to keep them for another season. The summer transfer window is not looking very negative for United with little hope of the club spending £108 million on Sancho, or close to achieving anything else.

If the club does not back Solskjaer and his plan, they will see yet another manager find it hard to do his job with the players at his disposal, which in turn will end up with either the manager leaving the club or being sacked, only for another to come in, be promised the earth only to find that as long as the bare minimum is achieved, the money will keep rolling in for the owners proving that the club has absolutely no ambition to win the biggest honours in football, which funnily enough, would bring in a fair amount of money for the club if that was to happen. In business, you have to speculate to accumulate, but this inept ownership and higher management seem to be happy with social media impression rather than winning honours on the pitch.

Written by John Walker

Louis van Gaal talks about his ten-man Manchester United transfer shortlist

Manchester United employed Louis van Gaal to manage the club from the summer of 2014, giving him a three-year contract which should have carried him through until the end of the 2016/17 season. However, that did not go to plan and the Dutch manager was sacked days after winning United’s first major honour post-Sir Alex Ferguson with United beating Crystal Palace in the Emirates FA Cup final in 2016. Van Gaal has spoken about Ed Woodward many times, however, now his ten-man transfer list has been revealed which makes for some interesting reading.

In the summer of 2014, Van Gaal signed Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind and Radamel Falcao. However, looking at his transfer list, it was clear that United were not fully behind the manager. David Moyes’ time at United was abject failure and the club should have been behind Van Gaal. The Dutchman has revealed his ten-man transfer shortlist and he was unable to sign any of them. Speaking to FourFourTwo, Van Gaal said:

“I wanted Robert Lewandowski, but when this proved difficult I tried to get Gonzalo Higuain instead.

“Before I had arrived, I also spoke with the board about Neymar. If you are at United, you have to think big. He was also interesting for the club in terms of selling shirts, and I wanted to have quick wingers. For that reason, I also tried to get Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez.

“Thomas Muller was on my wish list, too, and in central midfield I wanted N’Golo Kante. I even tried to sign James Milner, who was already quite old but very multifunctional and possessed leadership skills.

“For the defence, I wanted Sergio Ramos and Mats Hummels, because ours wasn’t the strongest in building from the back.”

Obviously, Shaw and Herrera were signed whilst the Netherlands and Van Gaal were at the World Cup in Brazil so could well have been done by the club with the managers knowledge. In defence, wanting Ramos and Hummels and getting Rojo and Blind is one thing but wanting Lewandowski or Higuain and getting Falcao was something else. Imagine if United had signed Kante and either Mane or Mahrez – could it have changed anything? I guess we will never know but it would seem that every manager is hung out to dry by United inter Woodward and the Glazers.

In his first season at the club, United finished fourth in the Premier League and earned UEFA Champions League football after a season out of European competition altogether after finishing seventh the season before. Van Gaal seemed to think it was strange for a manager of a club to not have any part in the negotiations to sign players at a club that was one of the biggest in the world at the time, despite the poor season under Moyes. Concluding, Van Gaal stated:

“Those were my top targets, but we couldn’t get any of them. I don’t know why, because as the manager I wasn’t involved in any negotiations.

“After I left, players like Mahrez and Kante ended up at Manchester City and Chelsea, while United couldn’t get them. I found that very odd.”

In his second summer as United manager, Van Gaal was again given money but still did not sign any of the targets he wanted. United signed Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, Sergio Romero and Anthony Martial. Of the 12 players he signed, Shaw, Rojo, Romero and Martial still remain at the club. In the Premier League during the 2015/16 season, United finished fifth, missing out on the Champions League and earning UEFA Europa League football instead.

The season ended brightly for United though as they lifted the FA Cup at Wembley but days later, Van Gaal was removed as the manager, becoming the second one to be sacked post-Ferguson. Jose Mourinho was brought in a matter of days later and United were at the start of another new era once again, the third post-Ferguson. Looking back though, and providing what Van Gaal has said is true, it shows that United are badly managed as a club, which has been seen for years now. Mourinho was not backed either.

The same will happen to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, if it has not happened already. Ed Woodward and the Glazers seem to be a bad fit for football. Granted, money has been spent since Ferguson left the club but United are on another rebuild because things are never done properly. Imagine if things were dome properly in the first summer after Ferguson retired with United spending the right money in the right areas, also installing a director of football, things could have been much different than they are now. It is like the club announce plans to being in a director of football to appease the supporters, then it never happens anyway.

Written by John Walker

Betrayal by Ed Woodward was the reason that Patrice Evra left Manchester United

Former Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra has revealed that it was Ed Woodward’s betrayal that made him leave the Old Trafford club during the summer of 2014. The Frenchman ended up signing for Juventus after a lengthly contract standoff with United. Evra had agreed on a two-year contract with Antonio Conte’s Juventus before United extended the player’s contract by another year, which left the player with no option other than to ask to leave the club.

Juventus signed the French left-back for just £1.2 million and he stayed at the Old Lady for two and a half seasons, winning two Serie A titles, two Coppa Italia’s and one Supercoppa Italiana at the club. He left for Marseille in January 2017, signing for West Ham United and returning to the Premier League in February 2018 after a UEFA ban which also ended the player’s contract in France. Speaking to The Guardian, the Frenchman has called out Woodward and allowed some truth to be put out there, saying:

“I felt betrayed by Ed. I called Juventus to tell them I am coming. Ed then said: ‘We offer you a two-year contract, more money, the captaincy, a testimonial.’ [It was] Too late.”

United continued to struggle after Evra left the club, as they did after Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season with the baton handed to David Moyes to steer the club, who was sacked in April 2014 with Ryan Giggs managing the club for the remainder of the season. At the end of the 2014/15 season, Juventus had reached the UEFA Champions League final which they lost to Barcelona with Evra recalling what his ex-wife had said to him at the time, saying:

“My ex-wife said: ‘See? Manchester are nearly in the Championship and you’re in this final.’ I love Juventus but I said: ‘Even if they’re in the Championship, I prefer to be at United. Nothing can replace my love for them.’”

Evra’s final season at United was not the best. The reigning Premier League champions eventually finished seventh in the league and missed out on European football. Marouane Fellaini was the only player signed in the summer transfer window with Juan Mata arriving in January 2014. It was not enough to save Moyes from his inevitable sacking. Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville completed the season as the manager and coaching staff with Louis van Gaal taking over as the manager.

Evra confirmed that Moyes was handed the impossible task of leading United as many of the player did not respect him. Ferguson was respected by every player at the club, and he had earned that respect. Moyes, at one stage, suggested that ‘United aspired to play like Manchester City’, which was not the way to get the players and the supporters on side. The Frenchman feels that United lost their DNA after Ferguson retired, which was the first of many things lost, saying:

“When Ferguson left, United lost their DNA, their philosophy. He was inspiring so much respect, so much fear, and if any player starts thinking he is bigger than the team then he destroyed you.

“The players always wanted to play for Ferguson. I tried my best for David Moyes but I knew it would be a disaster because players won’t respect him like that. It was a mission impossible.”

Written by John Walker

Ed Woodward and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer meet at training ground in order to act fast in the transfer market

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer both arrived at the clubs training ground in Carrington on Monday morning as the Old Trafford club stepped up their return to the UEFA Europa League on Wednesday evening as they take on Linzer ASK of Austria in the round of 16 second leg clash which was postponed in March. United won the first leg 5-0, effectively ending the two-legged tie right there so this match is just a formality.

It is expected that Solskjaer will utilised the fringe players in his squad for this match, resting many of his big stars although some of them could be on the bench if an upset was to happen, which seems unlikely. At this stage of the summer, which if it were not for the coronavirus pandemic, United would be stepping up their training after a pre-season tour with a return to the Premier League in the next week or so. However, they are still playing the current season and finalising plans for the summer transfer window, with closes on the 5 October 2020 this year.

Monday saw reports that United were finalising a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho, also seeing the exit of Alexis Sanchez reported in the media, which would seem like a busy days work at the club at the start of this week. Of course, United have a deadline of the 10 August to sign Sancho, which the club seem to be adhering to, which is a good sign. The Mirror also states that the likes of Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Diego Dalot, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones could all leave the club if the right price is paid for them this summer.

The likes of Chris Smalling, who has been on loan at AS Roma for the entirety of the 2019/20 season will be a matter to resolve with the player due back in Manchester this week after his loan spell will end on Wednesday, plus the pressing concern of goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who has finished his second season of his loan spell at Sheffield United and has been linked with a permanent transfer to Chelsea this summer. United will have a lot of work to do this summer and their plan will need to be right, not only for the direction of the club but the players.

United might have to press on with their transfer window this summer with a masterplan seemingly revealed for Real Madrid, who seem to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic this summer which will result in the club not being able to spend big this summer, something that has been stated by club president Florentino Perez. Spanish source AS has stated that the club will have targets for 2021 and 2022 which might give United this summer to act fast and steal the march on the Spanish giants.

United have already been linked with AS Monaco defender Benoit Badiashile this summer, who is described at the next Raphael Varane and one of the players that could be considered by the Madrid club this summer. With United seeking a new defender this summer, to partner Harry Maguire, after being linked to Nathan Ake, who will sign for Manchester City, Pau Torres of Villarreal and Gabriel Magalhaes of Lille, you kind of get the gist that United are seeking to strengthen their defensive lines with could lose Smalling, Jones and Rojo this summer.

I am sure United are not worried about Real Madrid as they seem to have targets which are separate to each club although with Badiashile, they could well be interested in the same player. However, this summer, United seem to have the money to spend on new players, aiming to continue Solskjaer’s rebuild of the club, they could well steal a march on the Madrid club, having a year extra to settle if they buy more than three players for the squad this summer. With the club returning to the UEFA Champions League, the strength in depth will be needed.

That said, it will be an interesting summer for United. Sancho arriving at the club and Sanchez departing will be good news as United would be getting a player that they need, a right-winger and getting rid of a player that is the Bain of their wage structure, making the future look a bit better for the club, not being laboured with the fact they will need to continue to pay for the underperforming player that was just not the right fit for the club, even if he did play that piano himself on his announcement video.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United’s inefficient structure means they struggle in the transfer market

Manchester United have a very inefficient way of dealing with transfers because the clubs executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward is not the authoritative figure that can get the business done quickly and successfully. For years now, we have seen United taking a lackadaisical approach to signings, chasing a player who is not even interested in a move for an entire summer, with the player than using that advantage to sign a new number contract with his current club – Sergio Ramos for example and he is just one of many.

United will need to bring someone into the club that can get the business done quickly, not making a comedy show out of transfers, also not letting them run throughout the summer with the media turning them into a soap opera script. United will need to find someone to do the business quickly. This is something that was first leaked out of the club as Jose Mourinho was sacked but then as United started to do much better on the football pitch, all talk of hiring a director of football stopped.

Then, when United regressed on the football pitch again, the rumours started with the media linking former players such as; Rio Ferdinand and Darren Fletcher with the position. What happened then? Nothing. Now, as United were knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup by Chelsea in the semi-final last weekend then failed to beat West Ham United to go into the final match of the Premier League season with an advantage over the two clubs that could end the UEFA Champions League dream; Chelsea and Leicester City – with United player the latter, the talk has started again.

Is this really going to happen or is it just more talk to placate the season ticket holders, official members and merchandise buyers? At the moment at United, new signings will have to be authorised by Woodward and the Glazers, which is a process that seems archaic in football right now with United seemingly, at least so far, refusing to join the modern day approach and have a director of football to make all of the decisions regarding signings, dealing with selling players and everything else.

If that happens, then Woodward could go back to doing what he does the best – bringing in the money. On a commercial scale, Woodward is one of the reasons why United have been so successful financially, despite the fact that the Glazers seem to be taking a lot of money away from the club in dividends, sold shares and other things. This is not going to make United successful on the pitch, which funnily enough is where and why the money started to roll in like it has been. United are a business first and a football team second – it should be the other way around.

Journalist Duncan Castles has a podcast called The Transfer Window podcast and obviously he talks about football, mainly the transfer window and many other things. It is not hard to work that bit out, is it? The journalist was reliable when Jose Mourinho was at the club but in terms of getting things right now, he is not as good as he used to be – but that is just my opinion. I don’t tend to trust journalists for information as all journalists have sources and they are not always the same. The information can change quickly, making them look wrong. Castles on his podcast, reported by The Sun, said:

“They don’t have a director of football to improve the recruitment at the club. They have Matt Judge who is in charge of negotiating contracts, talking to agents, and doing the information on the financial side of deals.

“Other people make the footballing decisions and ultimately things go through Ed Woodward and the Glazers before approval being granted.

“So it is an inefficient way of working in that you have a person who is the frontman for the club on a negotiation basis who doesn’t have the authority to make final decisions himself.

“The way it’s described to me from people who deal with Manchester United is they have these information-gathering exercises but there’s not the capacity to get deals aggressively advanced during those negotiations.

“They always have to wait for the go-ahead from other individuals before deals happen and that’s the path that Manchester United have chosen to go down.

“I think it reflects the way that the Glazers want to keep control over the purse strings and Ed Woodward wants to keep a degree of control over recruitment decisions at the club.

“They will argue that they’re moving forward and in the right direction but what I can say is a lot of people aren’t convinced that it is the best way to work during transfer deals.”

The summer transfer window will open on Monday and many will be hoping, including myself, that United actually get something done quickly, especially in the fact that the new Premier League season will start on the 12 September 2020, around a month later than it would usually start. The transfer window will be open until the first week of October but that does not mean United will have plenty of time. United could earn UEFA Champions League football by avoiding defeat to Leicester City on Sunday, which might help their pursuit of some better players this summer.

Written by John Walker

Ed Woodward to be ‘extra cautious’ in summer spending because of coronavirus uncertainty

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has admitted that the Old Trafford club will spend money this summer in a bid to help Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continue his rebuild of the club but that they will pay ‘extra caution in the coming months’ due to the clubs financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic. This is understandable as since the restart of the Premier League season, all club involved will have lost a lot of revenue not having any supporters in and around their grounds.

United saw themselves rise to third in the Premier League after a disappointing 1-1 draw with West Ham United in their last Premier League match of the season at the Theatre of Dreams with Chelsea falling to a 5-3 defeat by champions Liverpool, which means that both United and Chelsea will require just a point in order to guarantee UEFA Champions League football next season. United have taken the tough route to get that sorted though.

That aside, Woodward has insisted that United were still ‘commercially strong’ for the long-term and earning Champions League football next season will reinforce that and might even allow the Old Trafford club to splurge the cash this summer bringing in the types of player that they need to bring in to solve problem areas in the squad, if which there are a few at this moment in time. In my opinion, a right-winger, striker, creative midfielder and a central defender are all needed.

Woodward obviously backs Solskjaer’s plans for United as he will have invested in his plans when he hired him as the interim manager after Jose Mourinho was sacked after that defeat to Liverpool back in December 2018. You can see the progress at the club too, which will be something that will have shown Woodward the way forward after seven years of abject failure in trying to rebuild teams. Speaking in the United Review, which was reported by The Sun, Woodward said:

“We are fortunate to have a strong and resilient commercial business which has supported long-term investment in our team.

“That will continue, albeit with extra caution in the coming months as we navigate our way through this uncertain period.”

United have been strongly linked with Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho, Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish and a whole host of other players this summer. Either of those players would go some way in addressing the problems at the club, however, there are many other areas where United seem to have weaknesses; one of which is in the centre of defence. United added Harry Maguire for £80 million last summer and despite him strengthening the back four, his partner, Victor Lindelof, has not been the best partner for him.

With questions surrounding the fitness of Eric Bailly, who has been injured more often than not over the past two seasons, and the fact that Axel Tuanzebe has been out for a large proportion fo the season, there is genuine reason for delving into the transfer market to find a commanding central defender to partner Maguire and solidify the clubs back four. As Sir Alex Ferguson once said; attack wins you games but defence wins you titles.”

Written by John Walker

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirms that pre-season and transfers have been ‘thrown up in the air’ because of the coronavirus pandemic

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that Manchester United’s transfer strategy and pre-season plans are up in the air because of the coronavirus pandemic that swept the world, cancelling football for just over three months from mid-March. United are currently on a 17-match unbeaten run this season and could increase that on Monday.

United will welcome Southampton to the Theatre of Dreams on Monday evening, seeking to extend their run to 18 matches – continuing their good form at this important stage of the season. It is possible that with Chelsea losing to Sheffield United and Leicester City still yet to play, United could take advantage and break into the top four with a victory over the Saints.

Solskjaer has admitted that the clubs board will not panic or go crazy but has suggested that a place in the UEFA Champions League could ease the uncertainty with United, like all other clubs around the world, losing money because supporters are not allowed to attend matches yet and probably will not be able to for a while yet, unless something changes.

If United finished fifth in the league and Manchester City’s ban from European football was upheld, United would achieve Champions League football, however, if they are cleared, which could be the case if you believe Pep Guardiola’s positivity, United would need to fight for a fourth placed finish – they will know the result before facing Southampton. Solskjaer, talking about planning, confirmed:

“There’s quite a lot of planning going on. When do we start the league? That obviously is determined by how far we go in Europe, so you can’t really decide on the programme, the training programme.

“So there’s so many small decisions and of course transfers – that’s sometimes out of our hands as well because if the team is going well, what do we need? What don’t we need? Do you get injuries?

“That’s just the way of working in this job, that you’ve always got to plan for different scenarios. But the uncertainty of dates, how much holiday can you given them, how will next season look like – it’s still a little bit up in the air.

“I don’t think the club would either panic or suddenly go crazy with plans that we’ve already talked about for the years to come. You have to have a long-term plan but of course short-term maybe some decisions will be easier to make if or if not you get the Champions League.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ready to challenge Ed Woodward in transfer market as he plots summer rebuild – reports

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is apparently planning to challenge the clubs executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward this summer to spend big on the right targets to continue driving the club forward. United have seen a lot of improvement this season, currently on a 16-match unbeaten run.

United will need to bring in the right players this summer in order to mount a Premier League title challenge next season with Solskjaer seeking to take on the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City next season. United have the right ingredients with the need for strengthening in the right places, which would drive the club forward.

In recent matches, United have scored 14 goals, conceding four and keeping two clean sheets since the restart and have seen brilliant performances from Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood, who has been the star of the show for the last two matches.

Over the past week, United have played twice, scored eight goals and conceded twice, beating Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0 and Bournemouth 5-2, which was a exciting match at the Theatre of Dreams. It is stated that Solskjaer is always reminding Woodward that he needs further reinforcements with Jadon Sancho heavily linked to the club.

Some at the club might expect Solskjaer to work with the players he has, which are not going to carry United much further without additions. Greenwood’s improvement might be expected to continue and the Norwegian utilise him more, instead of brining in new big name players. However, Solskjaer sees things much differently.

The United manager might not be a push over with United seemingly reluctant to spend money this summer, which would be a good excuse for the Glazers to pocket more cash from the club, as if they have not already pocketed enough. Solskjaer, agreeing with Gary Neville on being a couple of players short, recently said:

“I don’t know how many points we’re behind the top two, but Gary (Neville)’s right – there’s definitely not going to be any complacency and thinking, ‘We’ve cracked it’ because we’ve got so much to do.

“It’s an enjoyable journey. We can see improvements but, yes, we need to make one or two – or more – very good decisions. It’s going to be an important summer, definitely.”

Gary Neville urges Manchester United board to seize the moment, add quality and challenge for Premier League title

Former Manchester United right-back and captain Gary Neville has urged the board of the Old Trafford club to siege the moment this summer and bring in the required quality so the club can become Premier League title challengers next season, aiming to restore a two title lead over Liverpool, who won their first league title in 30 years last week.

United have seemingly turned a corner since New Year and seem to be playing free-flowing football and are close to their best form in a long time. 3-0 victories in the Premier League against Sheffield United and Brighton and Hove Albion have given United a change of finishing in the top four of the Premier League this season.

Although, Chelsea’s defeat to West Ham United on Wednesday evening has given United a much better opportunity to break into the top four, along with Leicester City’s earlier defeat to Everton, which means with wins in their next few matches, they could be in a great position to securing UEFA Champions League football next season.

At times this season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been questioned about United’s form with some decisions being criticised. However, the Norwegian’s philosophy seems to be paying off. The arrival of Bruno Fernandes changed a lot at the club and with the academy being trusted too, things are heading in the right direction. Neville said:

“There’s no doubt that a year ago there was a massive worry about the club’s direction, where it was going, the recruitment.

“There’s a huge improvement, the club has been sanitised from a point of view of players who just come in for money.

“When you look at the players out on the pitch, there’s a mixture of ones who weren’t working who are now working because they’re surrounded by better players.

“Young players who are desperate to play for the club and some players who have got great ability, who have realigned their commitment over this last few months and are certainly in a lot better frame of mind.

“However, now is the time to go for it, get those three of four players in are needed close the gap now when the rest are maybe not investing and get closer to that title.”

copyright: JW