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November Review: Bruno Fernandes, Edinson Cavani and Fred in the plaudits for November

Manchester United played six times in November – a month which started with two defeats in the Premier League (Arsenal) and the UEFA Champions League (Istanbul Basaksehir) but then started to head in the right direction with victories over Everton, West Bromwich Albion, Istanbul Basaksehir and an added time victory over Southampton. United started the month tottering above the relegation zone in the Premier League and leading their group in the Champions League, which is still the case despite the defeat to the Turkish club. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have ended the month by rising to 14th place in the Premier League with December will be tricky.

November Statistics:

Six matches played; four wins, no draws and two defeats. Nine Premier League points won and three Champions League points won. 12 goals scored, seven goals conceded – one clean sheet. United started the month inn 15th place in the Premier League, finishing in eighth place with United having a game in hand of all of the clubs above them, which if played now could see them rise to fifth place (as United’s goal difference is at zero and Leicester City – in fourth place – having a +6 goal difference). Solskjaer will be seeking for United to start December in the same form they are in now – winning, rather than starting in the same was as September and October.

1/11 – Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal – Premier League

After United ended October on a high with a 5-0 victory over RB Leipzig in the Champions League, it was though that the club had turned a corner and were looking to start November in style. However, that was not the case in the poor match against Arsenal, who are not one of the toughest teams to beat in the Premier League this season. A 69th minute penalty scored by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was a disaster for United, and Paul Pogba who gave away the spot kick. It was not a great result for United, who had eight shots with two of those on target. It was a match that United should have won though, which will be a regret for the month.

4/11 – Istanbul Basaksehir 2-1 Manchester United – Champions League

This was a match that United were hoping to hit back in but they got hit instead. The club has not fared well in Istanbul and that hoodoo continued as they faced Istanbul Basaksehir for the first time in European competition. Rafael da Silva would face United for the first time, which was good for him to face the club he loves. United were hit twice in the 12th and 40th minute with all players deep in the opposition half and the Turkish side running through with the ball and putting their shots past Dean Henderson, who made his Champions League debut. There was a late consolation goal from Anthony Martial though.

7/11 – Everton 1-3 Manchester United – Premier League

This was the third match of the month and the last before a two-week international break so it was imperative that United got a good result. Everton had been in great form this season and were top of the league for much of the first month of the season but ahead of this match, their form was not the greatest. In the 19th minute of the match, Bernard scored the opening goal, which looked dire for United. However, a seven minute brace by Bruno Fernandes followed by an added time goal for Edinson Cavani secured all three points for United, which put them in a better position moving forward with a lot more work to be done.

21/11 – Manchester United 1-0 West Bromwich Albion – Premier League

After the international break, United were once again playing at Old Trafford, a stadium they they had not won a match in the Premier League this season. The Baggies were seemingly struggling in the league and needed to record their first victory of the season, taking United’s poor home record into account. That was not what happened though after United won a penalty in the 56th minute of the match after a dire first half. Bruno Fernandes scored the spot kick and it was the only goal of the match, which was a shame for United as they were trying to get more goals scored. A win is a win though and the first home win in the league was important.

24/11 – Manchester United 4-1 Istanbul Basaksehir – Champions League

United were back in the Champions League after two wins against Everton and West Bromwich Albion after the international break, facing the Turkish champions who beat United in the competition three weeks prior to this match. United seemed determined to get a result to keep them at the top of their group with two matches left to play. Bruno Fernandes struck with a sublime finish in the seventh minute, doubling the lead 12 minutes later. United won a penalty in the 35th minute with Fernandes on a hat-trick but Marcus Rashford took the spot kick with United leading 3-0 at half time. Daniel James scored in injury time after the Turks scored late in the half.

29/11 – Southampton 2-3 Manchester United – Premier League

Southampton have been a team in good form this season and were not going to be an easy task for United, which has shown after conceding twice in the opening 33 minutes of the match and David De Gea getting a knock, which saw him substituted during the half time break. United got themselves back into the match with Bruno Fernandes scoring in the 60th minute which made it game on. Edinson Cavani, also a half time substitute, scored his second goal of the season in the 74th minute of the match, before scoring the winning goal in added time, scoring both goals from headers. I guess people should not be judging a player based on their age anymore.

Bruno Fernandes – six appearances (six starts), 494 minutes, six goals, two assists and three Man of the Match awards.

Bruno Fernandes has been an important player for United and he has not even been at the club for a year yet, arriving in January 2020 and making bis debut in February. This season he has scored ten goals and assisted a further six with six goals and two assists scored in November. Fernandes scored his first goals against Everton, also scoring against the Baggies and Southampton with another brace against Istanbul Basaksehir. When he is playing, despite having poor spells against the Saints, he is determined to do the best he can to continue winning. United have done well with his acquisition and will continue to do well as long as he plays for the club.

Edinson Cavani – six appearances (one start), 214 minutes, three goals, one assist and one Man of the Match award.

Edinson Cavani has been a great signing for United, even with the criticism from United supporters and ABUs because of his age. That needs to be put to bed now as the comments are attention seeking at best. They should have learned with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but they didn’t. Cavani has played a small role at the club this month, in terms of minutes played but with goals and an assist, he has been an important player. He scored his first goal in added time against Everton with United 2-1 up and Everton pushing to equalise. He then scored a brace against Southampton, putting United level then winning the match in a game which United struggled at times.

Fred – five appearances (five starts), 415 minutes – a player that has earned his stripes at United?

Fred has grown from last month when he was besoming a big game player for the club. He’s not lauded by many and some still seem to criticise him because he is not a big name and came for a big price. He does not score many goals nor does he try and score them but in terms of what he offers for the club, his work rate, passion and ability to man-mark are his best attributes. It does not always work, which will be the same for almost every player in the game but he should be proud of how he has responded since his day at the club were almost ended by Jose Mourinho, who was sacked many months later. If he continues his form, he will keep playing regularly.

Notable Mentions: David De Gea, Luke Shaw, Alex Telles.

David De Gea made five starts in November, played 405 minutes and kept one clean sheet. Despite the loss against Arsenal, he did not lose any other matches during the month with Dean Henderson playing in the 2-1 defeat to Istanbul Basaksehir. It was unfortunate that he received an injury against Southampton and was substituted. Luke Shaw assisted twice in November with his assists coming against the Turkish side (in the defeat) and against Everton, which also saw him coming off injured. Alex Telles is another player who is heading in the right direction, playing three times, all starts and having 264 minutes on the pitch playing some good football.

Who is your Player of the Month for November 2020?

A look at what lies ahead in December…

United will play nine matches in December and it is going to be a tough month with the last five matches of the month played over a 12-day period. United will complete their Champions League group stage in December, currently topping their group and needing good results against PSG and Leipzig. United will also play six Premier League matches, seeking to gain some group in the league this season, after a poor start to the season. Solskjaer’s side do still have that game in hand they missed from the start of the season, which might close the gaps a little more. The club will also return to the Carabao Cup against Everton in the quarter-final stage.

2/12 – Paris Saint-Germain, Old Trafford – Champions League

5/12 – West Ham United, London Stadium – Premier League

8/12 – RB Leipzig, Red Bull Arena – Champions League

12/12 – Manchester City, Old Trafford – Premier League

17/12 – Sheffield United, Bramall Lane – Premier League

20/12 – Leeds United, Old Trafford – Premier League

23/12 – Everton, Goodison Park – Carabao Cup

26/12 – Leicester City, King Power Stadium – Premier League

29/12 – Wolverhampton Wanderers, Old Trafford – Premier League

Written by John Walker

Edinson Cavani set target before he makes his Manchester United debut

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has set new summer signing Edinson Cavani a series of targets before making his debut for the Old Trafford club. When United signed the Uruguayan on deadline day, he travelled from France and had to self isolate because of the coronavirus restrictions and was only able to train with his new teammates for the first time on Sunday, also training on Monday ahead of the players flying to France to take on Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League group stages on Tuesday evening. Cavani was missing from the group of players who left for France.

The 33-year-old has not played football since his last match for PSG which was the Trophée des Champions 2-1 victory over Stade Rennais on the 3 August 2020. It may be a period of time before the player is deemed fully fit in order to start matches for United and it is hoped that he can start to progress this week so he could feature against Chelsea in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday evening when the two sides meet. Anthony Martial will be missing from the Premier League matches with a three match suspension, missing the clashes with Chelsea and Arsenal. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Solskjaer said:

“He’s naturally fit. He is fit enough but he needs to play football with the rest of the players and be in those kinds of situations.

“Of course, you can’t live on memory, really, because it’s been a while. He’s very thorough, professional and he knows what he needs and what he wants.

“He still hasn’t ticked all the boxes before he’s available to play.”

Cavani is naturally fit, which is something that Solskjaer stated but in order to fit into the team well, he will need to training around his peers for a period of time. Obviously, he will have that chance this week, despite his teammates flying to Paris for the opening Champions League group stage match. During the rest of the week, Cavani will be able to link up with the teammates who were involved against PSG, working towards making his debut for the club, hopefully against Chelsea which would see United with other forward options. Solskjaer also touched on the fact that Cavani getting his sharpness and fitness back, also talking about Odion Ighalo, saying:

“I think as a team and a club we always want to get players in. And I think Edinson coming in, we’ll give him time to adapt to the Premier League and get his sharpness and fitness back.

“We’ve had some very good performances by Odion [Ighalo] and he’s still a very important part of this squad.”

It will be interesting to see how it works out for Cavani and United this season. It was expected that he could feature against his former club, PSG in the Champions League with the Uruguayan scoring 49 goals in the competition throughout his career. I guess that his 50th goal in the competition will have to wait a little bit longer, perhaps against Red Bull Leipzig on Wednesday 28 October when the Champions League returns to Old Trafford for the first time since the 2018/19 season in which the last match saw United beaten by Barcelona in the semi-finals of the competition. Here’s hoping that Cavani will be fit to play against Chelsea.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United sign Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani as the clubs third summer signing

Manchester United have completed the signing of free agent Edinson Cavani who left Paris Saint-Germain in the summer. United had been linked to the 33-year-old Uruguayan centre-forward in the past few seasons with United seeking to sign a striker since the departure of Romelu Lukaku, who signed for Inter Milan last summer after two years at the club. Last season, in what was his final season at PSG, Cavani made a total of 22 appearances for the club, scoring seven goals and three assists. Cavani will sign a one-year contract at the club, with the option of a second year. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was seeking a striker and perhaps Cavani could be a good signing.

The Uruguayan started his youth career at Danubio, playing for the club at first team level for two years before moving to Europe. Cavani made a total of 30 appearances, scoring 12 goals. He moved to Palermo in 2007, making 177 appearances, scoring 37 goals and eight assists for the club. In 2010, he signed for Napoli where he made 138 appearances, scoring 104 goals and 14 assists. In 2013, Cavani signed for Paris Saint-Germain for €64 million, making 301 appearances, scoring 200 goals and 43 assists for the club, continuing his rise in the game. Cavani won six league titles at PSG, his most successful club, winning 19 trophies in total in France.

Speaking to the official Manchester United website about his transfer to the Old Trafford club, Cavani said:

“Manchester United is one of the greatest clubs in the world, so it is a real honour to be here. I’ve worked really hard during the time off and I feel eager to compete and represent this incredible club.

“I have played in front of some of the most passionate supporters in football during my career and I know that it will be the same in Manchester. I cannot wait to experience the Old Trafford atmosphere, when it is safe for the fans to return.

“I look forward to continuing to write my little story inside the book of football and I know that’s why my focus has to remain the same as always – work, work, work. I have had a conversation with the manager and this has increased my desire to wear this beautiful shirt.”

Solskjaer was likely to be seeking to sign a striker this summer, although the club signed Odion Ighalo on loan during the January transfer window, for the remainder of the 2019/20 season, which was extended because of the coronavirus pandemic and extended until the end of January 2021. Ighalo has made 22 appearances for United, scoring five goals and one assist – his last goal was scored against Norwich City in the Emirates FA Cup in June, a 2-1 victory for United. In order to support Anthony Martial, United need a striker that will score goals – Cavani might he him. With Martial’s red card in the 6-1 defeat to Spurs, Cavani’s signing could not come soon enough.

Speaking to the official Manchester United website about his new signing, Solskjaer said:

“Edinson [Cavani] is an experienced ultimate professional who always gives everything for his team. His goalscoring record for club and country is fantastic and we are delighted to sign a player of his calibre.

“He’ll bring energy, power, leadership and a great mentality to the squad but, most importantly, he’ll bring goals. He has had a brilliant career so far, winning trophies at almost every club he has played for, and he still has so much more to give at the highest level.

“The opportunity for our young players to learn from one of Europe’s top goalscorers over the last 10 years is fantastic and it will really benefit them going forward. Edinson knows exactly what it takes to succeed and we are all looking forward to seeing him make an impact at Manchester United.”

United will be out of action for much of the next fortnight because of the international break, which will see the player possibly training with those who have not been selected to play for their countries during the break, preparing for a possible debut against Newcastle United in the Premier League on Saturday 17 October. Cavani will follow in the footsteps of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who signed for United as a free agent, leaving PSG in the summer of 2016, leaving United as a free agent towards the end of the 2017/18 season, signing for LA Galaxy in the MLS and now playing for former club AC Milan at the tender age of 39.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United told to sign Edinson Cavani this summer by Robin van Persie

Manchester United have been told to sign Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani in the summer by former United striker Robin van Persie. The Dutchman famously signed for United from Arsenal for £24 million in the summer of 2012, scoring 26 goals and 15 assists in the Premier League during the 2012/13 season which helped the club win their 20th league title.

United were rumoured to be interested in the Uruguayan during the January transfer window with the player said to be available at the time for €20 million, however, they opted to sign Odion Ighalo from Shanghai Shenhua on a six-month loan instead. Cavani will be a free agent in the summer, meaning clubs could get a good deal to sign the player.

Van Persie, speaking to Sport Bible feels that it would be a ‘no brainer’ for United to snap up Cavani, despite interest from Atletico Madrid, which was said to be the destination for the player last month, despite him staying put in Paris. I see two sides to this which would be both a positive and a negative for United. The Dutchman said:

“Edinson Cavani. I would definitely go for Cavani.

“He’s very fit, he’s a proven goalscorer, a goal machine, he has proven it at Napoli, PSG and Uruguay.

“With him, if he starts, he will get you 25 goals a season.

“I’ve watched him play, I’ve played against him, he is like a proper goalscorer.

“He lives by scoring goals so I’d go for him.”

One of the negatives is that Cavani has just turned 33 so will not be a player associated with the rebuild that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants at the club with the likes of Moussa Dembele and Diogo Jota both linked to the Old Trafford club. However, in terms of experience, he will fit the bill in a way, especially for the likes of Mason Greenwood.

Currently, United have Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Greenwood as the forwards in the team. Between them they have scored 49 goals and 12 assists this season, which is a good return. United, after selling Romelu Lukaku last summer left themselves short of options in attack this season and that was before Rashford was injured and Ighalo came into the club.

Cavani could offer something to Rashford, Martial and Greenwood, which would be a positive in their development but the negative there would be that he would expect to be the lead striker all of the time, not settling for a place on the bench, which might be the case. In terms of what he offers, his seven goals and two assists in 19 appearances for PSG this season will be a worry.

United need a striker who can find his feet at the club, offer more than Martial, Rashford and Greenwood in the main striker position, especially if Solskjaer keeps the same 4-2-3-1 formation next season, or even a 4-3-3 formation. When playing two strikers, leaving the fullbacks to become the wide men in the team, it might be different.

I am sure that Solskjaer will prefer to sign the likes of Dembele or Jota as their age – both 23, will suit the team more than the 33-year-old Cavani, who with all due respect is nearing the end if his career. If he was a free agent and could be signed on a relatively cheap wage, which may be unlikely.

It might be good to have him around, but in terms of a superstar signing, which it might be, the expense might be too much. He could teach Greenwood some good skills a she is early in his career but so could the likes of Jota and Dembele, or whoever United sign to lead the line. The fact is that United need someone, not necessarily Cavani.

Could signing Edinson Cavani be a genius move or another desperate failure?

Following the news that Marcus Rashford is set to be side-lined until at least March with a double stress fracture in his back, Manchester United are suddenly without their top goal scorer. Rashford’s goals have carried United this season, especially in the big games, and now he is set to miss vital league matches away at Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur as United fight for a top four position.

Anthony Martial has an impressive strike rate of nearly a goal every two games with 11 in 24, while Mason Greenwood is nearly in double figures himself. However, it’s clear that the Reds need reinforcements. Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani has recently handed in a transfer request at the French champions and with his valuation seemingly cheap at around €20 million, United must consider taking a chance on the 32-year-old Uruguayan. PSG sporting director Leonardo recently confirmed that Cavani is unlikely to stay.

“We had a proposal from Atletico Madrid. We did not have a proposal worthy of the player’s worth (But) I’m not sure he will be here in February.”

Despite only scoring just two league goals this season so far, Cavani certainly has an impressive track record, unbelievably scoring over 100 goals in just three years at Napoli and scoring nearly 200 in nearly seven years in Paris, despite competing against the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Neymar Jr and Kylian Mbappe for the limelight. Cavani was top scorer twice in both Serie A and Ligue 1 and not only brings a vast amount of club experience but also international experience, with over 100 caps for his country, scoring in the last three FIFA World Cups. 

His stats speak for himself and with the need for a striker and with the low transfer fee being bounded about, the deal seems on the surface a no-brainer. However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his staff may be wary of Cavani’s intentions and if he would want to join. Whether Solskjaer would turn his back on his long-term cultural reboot to solve a short-term problem will be the deciding factor in the club making a move.

Not only have the club seen many superstar names fail to live up to expectation over the years but if Cavani was to join and not perform, he would be on a long list of South American players who haven’t made the grade at Old Trafford. There are also concerns over Cavani’s attitude that may worry figures at the club. In January of 2015, Cavani was fined by former United centre half and then Paris Saint-Germain manager Laurent Blanc for missing a mid-season training camp.

Cavani has also previously clashed with Neymar over penalty duties. His miss against Lyon in 2017 after he had grabbed the ball from the Brazilian resulted in a dressing room bust up. There’s no doubt that although Solskjaer has said he may be tempted into targeting players on a short-term basis, he will still want any players brought into the club to have the right attitude.

If the Reds were to go for Cavani, he could either be inspirational like Ibrahimović or unsettling like Angel Di Maria. Even though he could be a trouble maker, he is in no uncertain terms a top-class striker and with just a week remaining in the transfer window, United are certainly now desperate for one.

Written by Alex Metcalfe

copyright: JW