Transfer Rumours: Edinson Cavani’s January exit looming?

As the level of uncertainty across both the country and the Premier League increases due to the rising number of Covid 19 cases, the future of some of Manchester United forwards also seems uncertain going into the January transfer window. While Anthony Martial has made it publicly clear he is looking to leave through the medium of his agent, reports have now started linking Edinson Cavani with a move away from Old Trafford. 

The veteran Uruguayan has been struggling to find fitness this season and has only played in eight of United’s games so far, a considerably lower number than most would have hoped for- including Cavani himself.

The lack of game time has not just been down to new arrival Cristiano Ronaldo though- as some suggested before the start of the season, Cavani has actually been unfit since October 31 with tendon irritation. The only goal the striker has scored this season came in United’s convincing 3-0 victory against Tottenham, a game in which Cavani played alongside Ronaldo in a front two. 

This was a game that many speculated could begin a formidable strike partnership, granted when both were fit, however shortly after Cavani was ruled out and hasn’t been seen since. It’s fortunate that United are left with legendary goal scorer Ronaldo and a talented crop of younger attackers in Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford, but the unique predatory instinct of Cavani still feels like a big loss. 

When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer convinced Cavani to stay on for another season one would have to assume it would have been on the pretence that the 34-year-old would get a better amount of game time, but it’s just not panned out that way.

In some ways Cavani has been demoted to a background extra, especially now that new manager Ralf Rangnick has entered the stage. Rangnick has yet to fully get to grips with the job, having been thrown in at the deep end with Covid issues and intense festive fixture scheduling, but it’s likely the German will desire fully fit players to deal with the intensity of the schedule. 

While it seems likely that Cavani could actually thrive in Rangnick’s pressing system, it’s starting to feel improbable as rumours of a January exit pick up pace. The prospect of this exit almost feels negligible in regards to Cavani’s tiny contribution thus far this season, however this was the season in which Cavani was supposed to enjoy a packed Old Trafford and score more wonder goals like his halfway line chip against Fulham. 

There could be questions directed at the Uruguayans motivation levels, especially since losing the number seven shirt and being somewhat overshadowed by Ronaldo, although on the pitch Cavani has never looked like lacking passion. It’s this very passion that has endeared ‘El Matador’ to nearly all United fans, overtly aware of his ability to produce a moment of unique magic.

The rumours linking Cavani with an exit mostly point to Barcelona as the destination. The struggling Spanish club are in dire form and seem to be a club in complete disarray. Barcelona sit outside the top four and various issues plague the team both on and off the pitch. 

Losing Sergio Aguero due to his premature medically induced retirement is possibly the biggest reason the Catalan club are sniffing around Cavani, and they are likely able to get him on a free due to his contract expiring. Obviously for a club like Barcelona who are short on money this potential deal is a no brainer, while they may be encouraged further by Cavani’s purported longstanding desire to play for the club.

If Cavani does now end up leaving in January, it’s no secret that it will come as a massive disappointment to United fans. While most will wish him well the prospect of losing his potential goals and presence will sit sorely in the mind, and the question of what could have been for ‘El Matador’ at Manchester United this season will be forever unanswered. 

Written by Sam Wilson

Solskjaer’s Tactical Tweak: A New System For Manchester United?

After a week of intensive pressure, Manchester United managed to respond to the shocking 5-0 defeat against Liverpool with an impressive, albeit, comfortable 3-0 victory against Tottenham Hotspur. Many had suspected United would have had a different manager in charge this past weekend, however Ole Gunnar Solskjaer retained confidence from the club despite a large outcry from certain fans against him. 

Solskjaer made a good decision to adjust United’s formation into a 3-5-2, making the team look far more comfortable defensively. With the impressive display against Tottenham, it seems this setup could be the way forward for United.

It’s not the first time United have effectively deployed the 3-5-2, Solskjaer’s side recorded a very impressive 2-1 victory against Paris Saint-Germain last season using the same system. Aside from this game there have been victories against both Manchester City and Chelsea in the past using the 3-5-2, which cements it as a formation that can be used to thwart the higher quality teams. 

Across his tenure at United Solskjaer has largely played more of a counter attacking game, although this season it looked as if Solskjaer had shifted away from that slightly. Games against Leicester and Liverpool recently highlighted Solskjaer’s desire to use a 4-2-4, a formation that saw United played off the park in both games, conceding nine in total across the two games. 

It may be that the addition of high-quality players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane has fooled Solskjaer into thinking he can get away with playing a more offensive game with less focus on defensive structure, however, it just doesn’t work like that. 

The issue with the United team is a large contingent of attacking minded players who when deployed in more offensive formations leave the defence totally exposed. United have looked like trying to deploy more of a press in recent weeks, however, it’s not the same as the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City, who have perfected their systems over the last few years to work flawlessly

Additionally, Solskjaer doesn’t possess the right set of players to deploy aggressive presses like some teams, Ronaldo and Mason Greenwood may be exceptional finishers, however they aren’t players who will press effectively.

In the game against Tottenham, the inclusion of three centre-backs with two wing-backs meant United had a much more secure shape and were less susceptible to being played through in the middle. Ronaldo also had a strike partner in the form of veteran striker Edinson Cavani, who scored a wonderful goal in the second half set up by partner Ronaldo. 

In recent weeks Ronaldo has had the tendency to look a little isolated at times, so the change of formation could be hugely beneficial for the Portuguese forward, allowing more direct link up play to occur. Another facet of the change meant United looked like they were a lot more compact and closer together, Bruno Fernandes occupying a slightly deeper role than he usually does. 

There were no more gaping holes in midfield and both Scott McTominay and Fred looked far more comfortable marauding the midfield with three defenders securely behind them.

One of the issues that arises from switching to a formation with three at the back is in regard to the reduced roles it affords to United’s more offensive players. The club secured Jadon Sancho in the summer for a hefty fee of £73 million, but unfortunately the young winger has had limited opportunities to impress thus far. 

Sancho is still finding his feet and worryingly a formation change could mean he has even less of a chance of breaking into the team this season. The drawback of 3-5-2 is the lack of out and out attacking wingers, which for United is problematic considering the depth and quality available in that position. Marcus Rashford, Greenwood and Sancho are just three of the several wingers who possess top level quality at the club, meaning there’s no chance all of them get into the team at the same time. 

While both Rashford and Greenwood could occupy the striker role next to Ronaldo, it’s unlikely Sancho would play in such a role considering his ability as a natural winger; giving Solskjaer something to think about in regard to accommodating all of his players.

United face two difficult upcoming games in the next week, one against Atalanta in the Champions League and a derby against city rivals Manchester City. It’s very likely that Solskjaer will stick with the 3-5-2, or some variation of it, and the Norwegian will hope United can pick up further clean sheets against two difficult sides. 

Despite the comfortable win against Tottenham, United will have to work to perfect a new system if Solskjaer chooses to stick with it, but further wins in the next week could gift Solskjaer a new lease of life on his team and more importantly, offer a new way to play going forward.

Written by Sam Wilson

Veteran Players at Manchester United: Risk vs Reward?

The signing of Cristiano Ronaldo by Manchester United this summer has been the main story in football for several weeks, with everyone having an opinion on the signing, weighing up the pros and cons of signing the striker, regarded by many as one of the best players of all time. 

One of the key talking points of the transfer has been the age of Ronaldo, at 36, the €13.5 million United paid for him is the most expensive fee ever paid for a footballer over the age of 35. For some, even for Ronaldo, this was as risk due to many players retiring around 35 in football, however at United, there is a history of players achieving great things while in the perceived twilight of their careers. 

The most obvious example of this would be Ryan Giggs, a player who was an Academy graduate at the club, Giggs won all there was to win at United before retiring at the age of 40 and becoming Louis van Gaal’s assistant coach, as reported by ESPN. If we perceive over 35 as the benchmark for players in the twilight of their careers, Giggs achieved a tremendous amount during that period. 

Most notably, at the age of 35, Ryan Giggs was awarded with the PFA player of the year award, a particularly prestigious award that is voted for by fellow players in the league, with the Guardian reporting it as the ‘highest honour possible’.

 During this season Giggs made 47 appearances for the club, scoring four goals and getting 17 assists across all competitions. During this season he played a crucial role in getting Manchester United into another Champions league final as well as winning the Premier League, League Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup. 

The fact that Giggs won this accolade in a season where United achieved so much, indicates how crucial he was to the success of the team, and shows that even in the perceived twilight of his career, Giggs was more than a valuable player for United. Many fans will be hoping that Ronaldo can replicate the longevity of the Welsh winger. 

Teddy Sheringham is another footballer who had the best season of his United career, in terms of goals and assists, when he was 35. In the 2000/01 season Sheringham scored 21 goals across all competitions, significantly helping United win the Premier League that season. On top of this, Sheringham was awarded the PFA player of the year award, becoming the oldest player to do so at the time, as was reported by Sky Sports

Once again this shows how valuable veteran players can be at a club like United with both Giggs and Sheringham winning one of the most prestigious personal accolades in football at an age many pundits and fans deem a player ‘finished’ at the highest level. 

More recently United have been criticised for signing players for cheap prices who are in their 30’s, most notably Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2016, and Edinson Cavani in 2020. Both players were signed on high wages and were in their mid 30’s at the time of signing, leading to criticism on both. 

However, both strikers have played vital parts during their time at the club, with Ibrahimovic leaving the club having scored 29 goals in 53 appearances and helping the club towards the EFL Cup and UEFA Europa League trophies, as reported by Manchester Evening News.

Similarly, Cavani’s signing was met with suspicion from fans and pundits alike, with Gary Neville labelling the transfer of the Uruguayan ‘very last minute’ as reported by Sky Sports. However, Cavani soon changed opinions, scoring crucial goals all through the 2020/21 campaign, ending with 17 goals and 6 assists in 39 appearances. Cavani once again proved that signing an experienced player can be hugely beneficial to a club like United.  

These examples are of course highlighting the instances when players towards the end of their career have been a success for United, and there is no doubt that at other times this strategy has not paid off for the club, in recent memory players like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Alexis Sanchez both arrived at the club in their twilight, with big expectations, and did not live up to them. 

 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has proven during his time at manager that his main focus is developing a young team that can go on to great success, shown through the integration of Mason Greenwood and the more recent signing of youngster Jadon Sancho

However, he has also highlighted how key experience is for a team like United with the signings of Harry Maguire, Cavani and now Ronaldo. Solskjaer commented on the suspicions of Ronaldo’s age stating ‘I am sure he likes all the talk about being old. Make it personal and he will show what he can do.’, as reported by The Guardian

There is no doubt that Ronaldo can go on to replicate the likes of Teddy Sheringham and Ryan Giggs during his second spell at United and bring much success to the club. The striker has already gotten off to the perfect start, scoring two in his second debut against Newcastle United at Old Trafford. 

With no sign of the Portuguese star slowing up any time soon, United fans will be hopeful that once again one of their veteran players can prove the doubters wrong. 

Written by Jennifer McCord

Ranking Manchester United’s best front three

With the homecoming of Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani opting to stay another year at the club, Manchester United have a plethora of options offensively. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a crucial job in identifying what his best front three will be to go into the rest of this season and how to keep the squad well rotated as well as maintaining the high quality throughout the team.

In previous seasons, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood/Daniel James has been the main attacking trio. But with the departure of James, the injury to Rashford and the loss of form of Martial, United’s current attack could look far different. Solskjaer has many options to choose from as especially last season with Martial’s inconsistency and Cavani’s superb form, Solskjaer looked to play Paul Pogba off the left wing so he could have more effect offensively. 

Thus, Solskjaer has even more versatility upfront especially with the signing of Jadon Sancho to add to the mix. The key thing for Solskjaer and his coaches is finding the right balance. On paper an attack can look strong but without balance and chemistry it won’t work. Since Bruno Fernandes’ signing, United have heavily relied on individual brilliance to get over the line, and in some games that is important but the constant need for the result to be secured as a result of a moment of magic is unsustainable. 

Therefore, Solskjaer must make sure the front three he opts with will have the right blend to create the right rhythm and impetus in their attacking play. With all the options Solskjaer has and the varying attributes each player has, it’s likely he will look to use different front threes in different games suited to the opposition. 

Against the big teams, Solskjaer has opted to use a pacey front three that could expose the oppositions defence on the counter-attack. The best front three fitted to that would be Rashford, Ronaldo and either Sancho or Greenwood. With Rashford’s successful surgery, he’ll be looking to get back into the first team by October and with his blistering speed he can humiliate defences especially if he has space to run into. 

Despite Ronaldo’s age, he still has some good speed in him and with Martial losing a couple yards of pace recently, and Cavani not being renowned for his pace, Ronaldo would provide the best balance to sustain this counter-attack. Off the right wing it’s a trickier decision as both Sancho and Greenwood are fast. Greenwood brings lethal finishing as he cuts in off the right whereas Sancho provides a more creative option with his silky dribbling and precise vision. 

As Ronaldo is a pure finisher and Rashford is more of a shooter rather than a creator, Sancho may fit this front three better as he provides the balance of finishing with that creative aspect, whereas Greenwood would make that front three quite predictable as they all would look to shoot and thus Rashford, Ronaldo and Sancho would be the best front three for a counter attacking game.

In games when the opposition sit back, it will need a mix of creativity but also the right finishers to take the few chances they get. With Fernandes’ unique ability to score lots of goals from midfield, Solskjaer could look to give him license to shoot with Ronaldo in-front of him creating the Portuguese linkup and then have Pogba off the left and Sancho off the right. 

Often when playing against the defensive teams, United struggle to create many chances but with Sancho, Pogba and Fernandes’ creativity it would be more effective at breaking down the ‘low block’ and with a lethal goalscorer in Ronaldo he will take the chances that are provided.

In some games its neither pure counter-attack or pure offense against low block, it has elements of both. Often, we’ve seen this against teams like Southampton, Wolves, Aston Villa and Brighton. These teams won’t go fully at you but will press high and won’t sit back. To combat this, Solskjaer should implement that pace on the counter-attack but also that high technical ability and thus should use Rashford off the left, Ronaldo through the middle and Sancho off the right. 

In all these teams, form is important and currently Greenwood is un-droppable, but due to his unbelievable finishing, this can be exploited late in a game off the bench when the opposition is more penned in.  The balance between Rashford’s direct running and speed with Sancho’s quality weight of pass and dribbling should provide a solid counter-attack but also enough if the game adapts to a low block and United will be able to break it down.

Ultimately, I think the front three is very dependent on the opposition as each forward has different qualities. Although Cavani doesn’t start in any of these, he like Greenwood could be very impactful off the bench and provide those trademark runs to find space and take a game and win it individually. 

Ronaldo’s signing provides proven quality in the box which will be influential throughout and then the alternation between Pogba, Rashford, Greenwood and Sancho on the wings will create pivotal squad depth and tactical flexibility for Solskjaer to ensure he has the right options to win the game to take United back to winning silverware.

Written by Ethan Bents

Edinson Cavani: Manchester United’s new cult hero

For fans across the globe, the 2020/21 season was the most soulless and disengaging season in recent memory, because of the ongoing pandemic fans were not able to attend games and support their teams live.

This was no different for Manchester United fans who, home and away, pride themselves on their non-stop vocal support throughout matches and have a long history of doing so. However, out of this season came a glimmer of hope for many United fans, in the form of summer signing Edinson Cavani. 

The signing of the then 33-year-old initially raised a few eyebrows due to it being perceived as a ‘panic buy’ in the latter stages of the transfer window, and the fact that Cavani was an ageing player who spent the prime of his career in Ligue 1. 

Former United player Gary Neville voiced his concerns over the signing at the time stating; ‘it’s very last minute, it’s come out of nowhere’ as reported by Sky Sports News, going on to label United transfer strategy ‘not good enough’ off the back of Cavani’s signing. This was a similar feeling amongst the fans at the start of the season, that was until Manchester United faced Southampton in the league. 

Cavani started on the bench, but after going 2-0 down in the first half, he was brought on as a half-time substitute in place of young striker Mason Greenwood, with hopes the Uruguayan could find some goals to bring United back into the game.

United went on to win the game 3-2 with Cavani having a hand in all three of United’s goals, assisting one and scoring two, with his last being the match winner in stoppage time.

This was a turning point for Cavani with the fans, the first time they not only saw his natural ability as a striker, but the passion he plays with, as could be seen with his celebrations after scoring the winner. The Guardian reported that this performance ‘ends debate about his signing’. It is safe to say this was the moment Cavani began his journey as a cult hero of United.

After the Southampton game, Cavani continued to provide big goals in crucial games, especially during the clubs run in the Europa League, scoring six goals and getting three assists in five games, including the only goal United scored in the final against Villareal, which they eventually lost.

In the league Cavani managed impressive numbers once more, scoring 10 goals and getting three assists in 1,366 minutes, proving to be a crucial player in the race to earn top four. 

It is fair to say that many United fans would not have expected the aging striker to deliver as much as he did in the way of attacking contributions, with BBC reporting that ‘fans can be forgiven for feeling somewhat underwhelmed at the prospect of signing Cavani’, on the day United signed the striker, proving the atmosphere around the signing was one of concern to say the least.

But Cavani soon proved his doubters wrong, finishing the 2020/21 campaign with 17 goals and 6 assists within 39 games across all competitions for Manchester United. 

The new cult hero’s crowning moment arrived at the final league game of the season at Old Trafford against Fulham, with a 10,000-capacity crowd allowed inside Old Trafford for the first time since the pandemic began. 

Cavani scored what ESPN described as a ‘wonder goal’ as he chipped the goalkeeper from near the halfway line, the celebrations with the crowd after the goal was one of the most passionate moments of the season for United, and the love the fans in the ground showed Cavani that day solidified his place amongst the likes of Eric Cantona and Ander Herrera as a cult hero at the club. 

It would appear that the feeling is mutual between the player and the fans as at United’s first home game of the season, fans continuously sang Cavani’s new song even though the striker was no available for selection in the game, proving just how highly he is thought of by the fans. 

The striker, having seen the footage, thanked the fans ‘for their affection’ on social media after the game, as reported by Manchester Evening News. With the Uruguayan signing a contract extension with the club recently, it would appear the love affair between United fans and their new cult hero is far from being over yet.  

Written by Jennifer McCord

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