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The Ralf Rangnick Era: Five players who could flourish and five who could leave

Manchester United started off the Ralf Rangnick era with a top performance against Crystal Palace last weekend, running out 1-0 winners in a game where United could have scored five. The instant impact of Rangnick’s arrival was evident from the first whistle, with United pressing high up the pitch and recovering the ball quickly. This type of pressing and control is a different style of playing in comparison to recent years, so in this article we’ll take a look at five players who could flourish and five who may be heading for the exit:

Five Who Could Flourish:

1. Fred

The first player in this list is almost an obvious pick after recent performances. The 28-year-old Brazilian has been hugely impressive in the last four games, sticking to his best attributes of breaking up play and providing energy in United’s midfield. 

If Fred was capable of doing this consistently then there’s no doubt around the fact that he’d be considered one of the top midfielders in the league, however this has not been the case during his time at United thus far. Fortunately, with Ralf Rangnick’s preference for fast and high pressing football, Fred may be better suited to perform to his best ability more consistently.

Already proving to be the matchwinner in his first game under Rangnick, Fred produced a brilliant performance- deservedly winning man of the match. With all of this being said, under Rangnick’s expert coaching and being well suited to United’s new system, Fred is one of the players who will look to improve the most over the next six months; and hopefully finally fulfil his full potential for United.

2. Victor Lindelof

Victor Lindelof is a player who may be surprised that he’s currently featured so frequently in the United starting eleven, however an injury to Raphael Varane has afforded the Swede an opportunity to stake a claim for a permanent spot. The 27-year-old has actually been one of United’s better performing defenders this season, although that’s not saying too much. 

Having just been promoted to Sweden captaincy it seems Lindelof has gained more maturity and this is showing in his performances. During Rangnick’s first game in charge, Lindelof was aggressive and tenacious when pressing further up the pitch. Additionally, he was able to pass out accurately and switch the play with ease, which was to the benefit of United’s charging fullbacks and forwards.

It’s likely that when Varane comes back from injury Lindelof will be delegated to the bench once more, however this isn’t certain as club captain Harry Maguire has had an awful season so far. Whether Lindelof manages to become a regular starter or not, there’s some good signs for a high level of performance from the Swedish captain, suited to Rangnick’s affinity for pressing high and aggressively.

3. Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood burst onto the scene at United as a teenage sensation, managing to bag a hugely impressive 19 goals in the 2019/2020 season. While not quite reaching those numbers last season, Greenwood has started this season well- scoring some brilliant goals already. 

Greenwood has already scored five goals in all competitions thus far and has the potential to surpass his impressive haul of 19 from a couple of seasons ago. The 20-year-old registered an assist in Rangnick’s first game in charge and scored a stunning goal in United’s final Champions League group game against BSC Young Boys

The deadly forward was largely restricted to a role on the wing in recent years, but with Rangnick’s preferred 4-2-2-2 system Greenwood may be able to start as one of the two strikers more regularly, allowing him ample opportunity to score. 

Rangnick has already spoken about Greenwood’s talent and potential, having been impressed with his performances so far this season, which means Greenwood should mature into an even more deadly forward under Rangnick.

4. Diogo Dalot

United have relied on Aaron Wan-Bissaka as the right-back option heavily during his time at the club, while Portuguese Diogo Dalot has been second choice. Dalot, who joined from Porto, was touted as one of the most promising fullbacks in world football when he initially signed. 

Unsurprisingly, the 22-year-old has failed to live up to the hype just yet, although there is still ample time for him to develop his game. Dalot moved to AC Milan in 2020 for a moderately successful loan spell, which many thought would lead to his permanent sale. 

This didn’t happen though, and it now looks likely that Dalot may be able to displace out of form Bissaka for the starting spot in the team. As mentioned previously, Rangnick likes proactive football with high pressing and attacking fullbacks- something more suited to Dalot’s natural game than Wan-Bissaka’s. 

In the game against Crystal Palace Dalot was a constant threat, overlapping and knocking balls into the box all game. In addition to this he came very close to scoring at the end of the first half after a nice run. Rangnick may well just prefer to use Dalot as his starting right-back, which could lead to the Portuguese’s best run of form yet.

5. Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho’s start to life at United has not quite been what he or the fans may have expected, however in the last week or so there are signs that he might start hitting form. Sancho struggled under former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, spending more time on the bench than he would have liked. 

However, it looks like Sancho may be granted a first team role under Rangnick, playing in one of the number 10 roles alongside Bruno Fernandes.  After scoring twice in one week under Michael Carrick, Sancho may start performing to his best ability under a new manager who actually tried to sign him several years ago.

Rangnick recognises the talent in the young English forward after presumably watching him intensely during his career at Borussia Dortmund. Playing in an inside 10 role may benefit Sancho, who can start linking up with the strikers and fullbacks more cohesively, which should ultimately lead to a flurry of goals and assists.

Five Who Could Leave:

1. Anthony Martial

After announcing himself in dramatic style against Liverpool in 2015, Anthony Martial has never fully reached that same height again. The Frenchman has had periods of good form but has never consistently impressed or shown enough to be a first choice Manchester United striker. 

Since the arrivals of the likes of Edinson Cavani and Jadon Sancho, Martial has been starved for game time or any kind of good form. News also broke this week from Martial’s agent Philippe Lamboley, stating the striker wishes to leave the club in January due to his lack of game time, which all but confirms the exit is looming for the once promising 26-year-old.

2. Eric Bailly

Eric Bailly is a player that has only recently signed a new deal with United, yet presently sits as fourth choice centre-back. The Ivorian has expressed his desire to play games and help the club, yet under Solskjaer this opportunity was not presented. Bailly has a high level of talent but his tendency to make rash decisions holds him back from being selected week in week out. 

Theoretically Bailly fits in with Rangnick’s high intensity pressing football perfectly, but it looks like he will have to settle with being a squad player after the arrival of Raphael Varane and the good form of Victor Lindelof, plus the fact that it’s likely club captain Harry Maguire will be retained as a starter. All of this being said, Bailly will probably look to seek another club in order to gain more playing time.

3. Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson looked very likely to replace David de Gea as United’s number one goalkeeper towards the end of last season, however a De Gea resurgence has shut down any chance of that happening. 

Henderson possesses enormous amounts of talent for such a young goalkeeper, and certainly doesn’t lack the confidence necessary to be United’s first choice goalkeeper. Henderson played in United’s final Champions League group game against BSC Young Boys, putting in a confident display complete with elements of a sweeper- keeper. 

This would be to Rangnick’s liking, however the United manager has made it clear that De Gea is number one, which could indicate rumours about a potential loan or permanent move away could become something more concrete.

4. Jesse Lingard

The longstanding saga surrounding Jesse Lingard and his United future should finally come to a close under Rangnick’s reign as manager. While there are no doubts surrounding the quality Lingard has, it’s clear the academy graduate wants to be starting games, deservedly so too. West Ham looked like a likely destination after an impressive loan spell there last season, although Newcastle United are starting to show interest as well. 

Lingard will suit Rangnick’s style of pressing, but it feels like it’s too late for the 28-year-old to revive his United career at this point.

5. Juan Mata

Juan Mata has been an excellent servant to United since joining back in David Moyes’s short spell as manager. Mata has always oozed class when playing but he finally seems to be at the stage where his body can no longer cope with the rhythm and intensity of the Premier League. 

The 33-year-old has only made three appearances so far this season and there have been suggestions Mata may prefer a return to Spain sooner than later. It’s distinctly obvious Mata is the wrong type of profile to carry out the intensive pressing style of play United are expected to develop over the next six months, meaning a January or summer exit is on the cards.

In addition to the players mentioned above there are still several futures that could pan out either way- including the likes of Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba. Rangnick will be keen to trim the squad down and assemble a team more in his image over the next few months, and if successful United may finally compete for the Premier League title once more.

Written by Sam Wilson

January Transfer Window: More important than ever?

After a poor start to the 2021/22 season, Manchester United already risk falling too far behind to rekindle any hope of salvaging some kind of success this year. United are quite frankly stuck in a woeful run of form, exacerbated by the toothless performance against Leicester City last weekend

Confidence in manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is purportedly retained by board members at the least, but the tide has now mostly shifted in terms of supporters. United seriously risk imploding further if results don’t improve or a long-term solution isn’t found soon, the pressing need for some changes more evident than ever. 

One thing that is abundantly clear is that United need to take advantage of the upcoming January transfer window. Traditionally it’s a rarity for United to buy in this window, however this year with the way the season is panning out there is a growing body of evidence to suggest United really need to both buy and sell this upcoming January. 

Reports of discontent in regard to Donny van de Beek and the lack of game time afforded to Jesse Lingard means it would be detrimental to both club and player to not look for potential buyers, United could really do with the funds so that they can afford to reinvest over January.

It’s still highly unlikely United will spend a huge sum of money in January, however a player in the region of £30-50 million is attainable but most likely on the provision that someone from the club is sold for a decent fee. When clubs lay out the transfer budget for the season most teams don’t factor in the January Window, changes to the squad mid-season can be disruptive in nature. 

However, when injury strikes, or a season doesn’t pan out the way it was intended to, this normally barren and stable period can turn into a frenzy, especially if the need for a new player is glaringly obvious. In United’s case it is.

Let’s take a look at some potential January incomings and outgoings, while also assessing the likelihood of a transfer materialising:

Potential Incomings:

Franck Kessié

Naturally we’ll start with one of the most talked about and rumoured transfers over the last few months, Franck Kessié is a central defensive midfielder currently playing his trade at Italian giants AC Milan. The Ivorian is only 24 years of age and possesses bags of ability for a player at such an early stage in their career. 

United experienced first-hand how much of a controlling presence the midfielder can have, Kessié played both legs in last season’s Europa League clash between Milan and United. This is exactly the type of player that could inject some much-needed energy and presence back into United’s midfield. The highly rated prospect is out of contract with Milan next year, and with rumours swirling around that Kessié demands higher wages that Milan can afford to pay, it is likely he may be on the move in January or at the very least summer 2022. 

Additionally, Kessié has actually previously expressed desire to play for United one day, make of that what you will…

Likelihood: 3/5

Marcelo Brozovic

Moving onto the other team in Milan, Inter’s Marcelo Brozovic is also out of contract next summer and potentially seeking a move away from the San Siro. The Croatian midfielder is also more of a defensive option and offers a wealth of experience, sitting at 28 years of age with over 60 caps for Croatia means that if United were to opt for his signing it would add an influential presence alongside existing midfielders. 

Brozovic is an excellent playmaker from deep, occupying the space just in front of the two centre-backs. With a brilliant passing range he is often able to bypass other team’s press with calming authority, something United could really use. Additionally, off the ball the Croatian is competent, content to read the game and sit back while stifling spaces and cutting off passing lanes. 

Signing Brozovic would only be a positive for United, adding him in January could genuinely change the club’s fortunes for the season dramatically, however there are a number of other teams sniffing around for his signature- including Liverpool and Barcelona.

Likelihood: 3/5

Aurélien Tchouaméni

Aurélien Tchouaméni is another player that has recently been linked with United frequently, it would seem with good reason too. Tchouaméni is just 21 years of age, making him a very raw talent. Playing in central midfield, primarily as a defensive midfielder, the youngster has massively impressed to draw the attention of top clubs. 

Tchouaméni is a great ball winning player and also possesses the asset of being able to progress the ball, whether that be from driving forward with pace or picking the right forward pass. The Frenchman has already got international caps and recently played alongside Paul Pogba, the two working effectively together in midfield. 

If United want to look for a player with a high ceiling of potential that they can subsequently mould into what they see fit then this is a good option, with the benefit of existing connections to Pogba. 

Likelihood: 3/5

Kieran Trippier

United’s interest in Kieran Trippier is well documented at this point and the England full-back has reportedly been open to a move since the summer. Trippier became only the fourth Englishmen to win La Liga last year with Atletico Madrid, a triumphant reward for what was an unorthodox move for an English player. 

Despite being 31, the right-back is able to motor up and down the flank and is a bit of a set piece specialist, United may be keen to find someone of Tripper’s ilk in order to provide pinpoint crosses for Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Additionally, the acquisition of Trippier would relieve pressure on Aaron Wan Bissaka but the prospect of Atletico letting a first team player leave this January is fairly low, so this deal may be difficult to do.

Likelihood: 2/5

Potential Outgoings:

Donny van de Beek

It’s no secret that Donny van de Beek has grown increasingly frustrated with his role at United, or lack of one for that matter. Van de Beek has only featured three times for United so far this season, playing the full 90 only once in the Carabao Cup defeat against

West Ham

This lack of game time combined with murmurings of unfulfilled promises from Solskjaer mean that it’s almost certain the Dutchman will seek to move to pastures new this January. If a move does materialise then United can expect to pocket at least £25 million for the talented midfielder, who was originally signed from Ajax for £35.7 million.

Likelihood: 4/5

Jesse Lingard

The rollercoaster ride for Jesse Lingard has been nothing short of incredible, from being scapegoated as not good enough at United, suffering with personal issues and then blossoming at West Ham United on a loan move last season, Lingard has experienced it all in the last 18 months. 

The 28-year-old actually became one of the best attacking players in the league after switching to West Ham on loan last season, enjoying a scintillating run of form that many thought would lead to a permanent switch to London.

 However, when the summer window closed this year, Lingard remained, despite being touted as worth around £35 million pounds amid interest from West Ham and others. Lingard has scored for United already this season and enjoyed some positive moments but if the England international is to play regularly he will have to seek football elsewhere. 

If United do manage to sell Lingard in the January window, then they will gain a significant sum that should be used to reinvest in the midfield straight away.

Likelihood: 3/5

Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial has struggled over the least year or so to really establish himself as a reliable Manchester United forward. Switching between a striker role and occupying the left flank, the Frenchman hasn’t seemed his once cool and deadly self. With the addition of Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho it is going to be increasingly difficult for Martial to get any sort of game time at United, meaning a move will likely be his best option. 

Despite this, it would be a huge surprise if Solskjaer greenlights a departure in January for the forward as he won’t want to lose too many players if Lingard and Van de Beek end up leaving.

Likelihood: 2/5

Overall, I expect United to be active in the upcoming January transfer window, with at least one player leaving the club on either a permanent basis or a loan deal. United need to bring in a midfielder but they will need the funds in order to do so, which is why the sale of one player on a permanent basis will be a key factor in this whole process. 

The lack of quality in the midfield currently is evident and Solskjaer doesn’t have the correct profile of player to remedy the issue at the moment it would seem, so bringing in one of the targets listed above would be a massive boost for the overall balance in general. 

If United are successful in acquiring a defensive midfield target, then there’s no reason why the second half of the season can’t be fruitful with some silverware, but as always, only time will tell.

Written by Sam Wilson 

Jesse Lingard: The Super Sub’s Super Sub

Last season when Jesse Lingard was sent on loan to West Ham United during the January transfer window, many Manchester United fans assumed that the Academy players time at the club was coming to an end. 

It would seem as though the player was also unsure about his future at his boyhood club, as recent as August 2021 The Times reported that Lingard may push for a move in the summer transfer window unless assured by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that he will play regularly. Thankfully for both club and player, Lingard has been given playing time under Solskjaer this season, and he is already proving his doubters wrong. 

Most would agree that Lingard earned his chance back at his boyhood club after his electric loan at West Ham United. Lingard only had a limited amount of time to make a statement after signing halfway through the season, but the midfielder managed nine goals and six assists in 16 appearances for the Irons. 

His attacking numbers significantly helped the London club climb the Premier League table, with the club finishing sixth, this gave the club guaranteed Europa League football and was also only the sixth time the club had managed a top six finish since joining the Football League 102 years ago, as was reported by the club. The club labelled the finish‘a historic and significant achievement’ , West Ham fans would agree that Lingard played a significant role in this achievement. 

Of course, West Ham worked as a team to achieve European football, however it can not be denied that Lingard was in scintillating form in this time, as proven by the fact that the midfielder was nominated for Premier League Player of the Month three times in a row in February, March and April. 

It was third time lucky for Lingard who won the award in April, when interviewed about his win, Lingard stated ‘I definitely think I am in the best form of my career’. This was a statement win for the England international and showed United that the midfielder had a lot to offer when given the opportunity. It worked as Solskjaer made it clear that he wanted Lingard to stay in his squad for the 2021/22 season. 

It is crucial to recognise that Lingard was not going to be starting in his preferred central attacking midfield position week in week out due to last seasons Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year, Bruno Fernandes, also playing in that position and being a nailed on starter in the league and big Champions League games. This meant that Lingard would have to rely on making an impact off the bench in order to maintain a place in and around the squad. 

Lingard has already done this, scoring two goals and getting one assist in only 136 minutes in all competitions so far this season, all of these attacking returns coming off the bench. Most crucially however, Lingard has delivered in crucial moments in games for United, including scoring a game winning goal in the 89th minutes against West Ham in the Premier League. 

More recently, after giving the ball away that led to Young Boys beating United in the first group game of the Champions League season, Lingard bounced back by assisting Cristiano Ronaldo in the last minute of the game against Villareal in the Champions League, United won the game 2-1. He created this game winning goal whilst only having one minute on the pitch. The term ‘super sub’ has rarely been as appropriate. 

These moments of brilliance are exactly what the manager wants from Lingard, with Solskjaer stating at the start of the season, ‘We really want to see the best of Jesse this season and we hope to see him, we support him, and we hope to keep him here with us’

Lingard only has this season left on his contract with his current deal set to expire in 2022, Solskjaer in this statement makes it clear that he wants to keep the midfielder at the club, and there is no doubt that this position will have strengthened after the cameos we have seen from Lingard this season. 

United fans will be hoping that the contract talk goes well and that United keep Lingard at the club, not only is he one of their own, but he is also a player in great form and has shown in the small amount of time that he has been given that he is a valuable asset to have, even if that is as the most famous substitute in footballs very own ‘Super Sub’

Written by Jennifer McCord

Six Manchester United players who could be facing the axe as early as January

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could choose to axe up to six (maybe more) players from his squad this season with the January transfer window vastly approaching. Solskjaer has 28 experienced players in his squad this season, not to mention the talented youth players earning their plaudits from the academy. This means that there are a number of players who could be seen as surplus to requirements.

During the summer transfer windows, it was expected that United would get rid of a lot of the deadwood at the club but the post-coronavirus transfer market was not very positive for United, who needed buyers for the players they wanted to sell. It would have allowed United to strengthen on key areas ahead of the new season. Perhaps the much-needed changes could be made in January, or beyond?

United initially started the season in fine form with two wins and one draw in the first three Premier League matches before the first international break of the season, beating Leeds United 5-1 and Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 – drawing 1-1 with Southampton. It was a positive start to the season, which should have only got better for United – but there was a problem lying in wait.

After the first international break, United beat Newcastle United 4-1 in the league, were beaten 2-1 by Young Boys in the Champions League, beat West Ham United 2-1 in the league before a 1-0 defeat against the Hammers in the Carabao Cup, then losing 1-0 to Aston Villa in the league, beating Villarreal 2-1 in the Champions League and final, drawing 1-1 to Everton in the league before the second international break.

Here are six players with limited futures at Manchester United…

Diogo Dalot, 22 – right-back

The Portuguese right-back has made just five appearances for the club this season, playing a total of 288 minutes of football, which suggests his future could be up in the air. Granted, he was only given the minutes he has in rotation, more importantly because Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off in the Champions League against Young Boys, therefore he was suspended for the win over Villarreal – the suspension now lasts two matches.

This will give Dalot some minutes on the pitch this season, providing an appeal for the two-match suspension is not won by United, meaning he will likely play in the first group stage match against Atalanta on the 20 October. When he has played this season, the Portuguese right-back has looked terrible – although that may change in the future if he is given more time on the pitch, but that seems doubtful.

It is suggested that Jose Mourinho would be interested in signing the player for the second time in his career, this time for AS Roma, but it would all depend on whether the Portuguese manager had the money for a potential deal, considering the player has more than two and a half years left on his contract. Based on the fact that Solskjaer wanted to sign Kieran Trippier in the summer, it would suggest Dalot is not wanted.

Likelihood of player leaving in January: 2.5/5

Phil Jones, 29 – central defender

He did not play for the entire 2020/21 season and last played a match for the United first team in January 2020. This latest in a long line of knee injuries seems to have cost him dearly. He has played twice for the U23’s so far this season, getting 180 minutes of football under his belt. He was on the bench against West Ham in the Carabao Cup, which so far is the only appearances he has made at senior level, despite not playing.

It was expected that he would be involved in the first team, at least in the Premier League after not being named in the Champions League squad. But other than the West Ham match in the Carabao Cup, Jones has not featured for United. That could be a worrying sign because of his injury or it could be just to protect him, s he actually recovers from the knee injury.

It is hard to see Jones get ahead of Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly, which is seemingly the pecking order at the club this season. There is also Teden Mengi, who could also be ahead of Jones, possibly even Bailly. I think for him to have a career, leaving United is the best option both for the player and the Old Trafford club. Getting back to his best, which has not really been shown will be hard.

Likelihood of player leaving in January: 3.5/5

Eric Bally, 27 – central defender

The Ivory Coast international started the season late after his participation in the Olympics in Tokyo this summer. He has only featured in one match, playing 90 minutes in the 1-0 defeat to West Ham in the Carabao Cup. Bailly has been on the bench for United in a further five matches, but so far has not been used as a substitute. His injury record is also questionable, like Jones’ record at the club.

Bailly has the likes of Maguire, Varane, Lindelof, Jones and Mengi to contest with in the central defensive positions and it seems likely that both Varane and Maguire will be the main partnership, with Varane stepping in as the third-choice player, leaving Bailly, Jones and Mengi to contest for the fourth-choice player in this position. It seems unlikely that Bailly will play a lot of football – unless there are further injuries.

The rotation option seems to be the best option for him and he could perhaps contest Lindelof’s place in the team replacing him, which would involve him playing to the best of his abilities, not jumping into any rash tackles and maintaining his fitness level and not suffering any injuries – which seems unlikely in itself. It could be that the player will opt to leave, despite signing a new contract less than six months ago.

Likelihood of player leaving in January: 3/5

Jesse Lingard, 28 – attacking midfielder/winger

It was expected that his loan spell with West Ham last season would have been the precursor to him leaving the club this season, but the player decided to fight for his place, which still is not guaranteed at the club. Lingard has played more football than others this season, also achieving more but even that is not a guarantee that he will be chosen by Solskjaer to be a regular starting player in the team.

Lingard has six appearances for the club this season, playing just 136 minutes of football, scoring two goals and getting one assist. One of his goal was the winner in the league against the Hammers, with the assist coming against Villarreal in the Champions League – with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the goal to get United their first points in the competition this season. It was good to see him achieve that to be fair.

It would seem unlikely that Lingard and will push the likes of Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes out of their places this season but I am sure he will have a good go at doing so. Lingard’s contract will expire at the end of the season, so unless a new contract is signed, his future at the club seems over. United could sell him in January or lose him on a free in the summer.

Likelihood of player leaving in January: 4/5

Juan Mata, 33 – attacking midfielder

He is the fifth oldest player at he club this season, with two of those ahead of him being Lee Grant, 38 and Tom Heaton, 35 with both not likely to play much football this season. The oldest player is Cristiano Ronaldo, 36 with Edinson Cavani, 34 just ahead of him. Mata has made one appearance for United this season, playing 62 minutes in the Carabao Cup defeat to West Ham.

He has been on the bench seven times this season, but was not utilised for the last two Premier League matches, the 1-0 defeat to Villa and the 1-1 draw with Everton. When the likes of Rashford and Amad Diallo are back to full fitness and able to feature for United, there is a chance that Mata could not find much involvement on the pitch this season. It was not a great performance, although that might improve as the season goes on.

Of course, with his contract expiring in the summer, it is possible that Mata could retire from the game or even head into coaching with United, which is something that could be done whilst his current contract is active. He has been a positive player for United in his time at the club but it would seem that his best days are behind him. He has a good footballing mind, which is a shame to lose him, but it’s better not to plod on like this.

Likelihood of player leaving in January: 3.5/5

Donny van de Beek, 24 – central midfielder/attacking midfielder

The Dutchman only arrived at United last season and had a tough first season at the club with not a lot of playing time and only contributing one goal and two assists for the club. This season, it seems tougher for him as despite making three appearances, he has only played 141 minutes of football, which is not enough for a player of his calibre. That said, he’s not competing with Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay or Fred for a place.

United have a lack of defensive minded midfielders at the club with just Matic the experienced one and McTominay playing as big a role in that position as he can. Perhaps a change in formation will give other players a chance but it is the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and to a point, Lingard that he’s competing with for a place in the team. That is why it is tough for him to get a place in the squad, despite what some fans say.

It is suggested that Van de Beek is seeking to leave the club in January, which was an avenue that he tried in the summer with his agent speaking to Everton and the move being denied by Solskjaer. The Norwegian manager says he has a place in the team, but in the early stages of the season, I can see why the player is frustrated but giving up without a fight is not really a good thing to do.

Likelihood of player leaving in January: 4/5

Solskjaer has a talented squad at United this season, a squad that at this time is underperforming with some supporters on social media calling for him to be sacked, which seems to be the case with fans like that – which has happened for each manager post-Sir Alex Ferguson; David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho. These so-called supporters think they have the answers, with many suggesting that Mourinho was the one.

To see this time and time again shows that modern-day football supporters have no patience. They seem to assume that success can be provided for a price, which is never the case. With any manager, there are problem period and period of success – that is part and parcel in football. In a 20 team league, there can only be one winner but the expectation of these ‘United fans’ seems to suggest that United should win all the time.

The manager can only do part of the work. You can see this when these social media fans credit a win to individual brilliance but blame a draw or a defeat on the manager. It just does not make much sense. There will always be players who will moan about certain things but instead of moaning, fighting for a place and proving your worth is the best thing to do. Not every player can play a big part during the course of the season.

Let’s see what January, then the summer transfer brings for United. In terms of players at the club, there is a little about of work to get the players in for the problem positions and that should be achievable by the club and the manager. More importantly, United are still backing their manager, United are two points off the top spot in the Premier League and one point off the top of their group in the Champions League. Don’t panic!

Written by John Walker

September Review: David De Gea, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jesse Lingard lead the plaudits

Manchester United played six matches in September which saw the return of the Carabao Cup and the UEFA Champions League along with the Premier League. It was the first of a busy few months for United. The month started well with Cristiano Ronaldo returning to the club with a bang, scoring five goals in his first five matches for the club but United did not start well in either the Champions League, losing to Young Boys or the Carabao Cup, exiting following a defeat to West Ham United. Despite the defeats, which also includes the one to Aston Villa, United won two Premier League matches, earning six points and sit fourth in the league. They ended the month with a victory over Villarreal in the Champions League.

September Statistics: United started and ended the month on a high but saw problems in the middle.

Six matches played; three wins and three defeats. Six Premier League points won out of nine, knocked out of the Carabao Cup, which is more of a bonus rather than a negative and got their first points in the Champions League with a late victory over Villarreal. United scored nine goals in September, conceding seven. Cristiano Ronaldo scored five goals, Jesse Lingard scored two and both Alex Telles and Bruno Fernandes scored one each. Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes got two assists with Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic and Luke Shaw getting one each. Not the best month in the history of the club but it ended a positive one.

11 September – Manchester United 4-1 Newcastle United – Premier League

Goals: Cristiano Ronaldo 45+2′, 62′, Bruno Fernandes 80′, Jesse Lingard 90+2′; Javier Manquillo 56′

Assists: Luke Shaw 62′, Paul Pogba 80′, 90+2′; Allan Saint-Maximin 56′

Manchester United beat Newcastle United 4-1 at Old Trafford in the Premier League. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring in added time at the end of the first half, scoring his 119th goal for United. The Magpies equalised through Javier Manquillo in the 56th minute of the match before Ronaldo sealed his brace six minutes later. Bruno Fernandes scored a stunner in the 80th minute with Jesse Lingard getting on the scoresheet in added time at the end of the match. Paul Pogba got two assist with Luke Shaw getting the other. United will face Young Boys in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday. Top of the league.

14 September – Young Boys 2-1 Manchester United – UEFA Champions League

Goals: Nicolas Moumi Ngamalo 66′, Jordan Siebatcheu 90+5′; Cristiano Ronaldo 13′

Assists: Silvan Hefti 66′; Bruno Fernandes 13′

Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by Young Boys in the opening UEFA Champions League group stage match of the season. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring, assisted by Bruno Fernandes in the 13th minute of the match. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off for a bad foul in the 35th minute of the match, leaving United with ten men. Nicolas Moumi Ngamalo found the equaliser in the 66th minute of the match with United doing so well at that stage. United tried to hold out but Jordan Siebatcheu found the winner in the fifth minute of add time with the Swiss side getting all three points from the match.

19 September – West Ham United 1-2 Manchester United – Premier League

Goals: Said Benrahma 30′; Cristiano Ronaldo 35′, Jesse Lingard 89′

Assists: Jarrod Bowen 30′; Nemanja Matic 89′

Manchester United beat West Ham United 2-1 in the Premier League at the London Stadium. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side once again came from behind to set their unbeaten away run to 29 matches now, two more than Arsenal’s record from 2004. Said Benrahma opened the scoring in the 30th minute for the Hammers but five minutes later, Cristiano Ronaldo levelled the match. It looked like a 1-1 draw before Jesse Lingard won the match for United. There was late drama with a penalty awarded for the Hammers but David De Gea made the save from Mark Noble’s effort. What a match, what a moment, what a result!

22 September – Manchester United 0-1 West Ham United – Carabao Cup

Goals: Manuel Lanzini 9′

Assists: Ryan Fredericks 9′

Manchester United were beaten 1-0 by West Ham United in the third round of the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford. Ryan Fredericks assisted Manual Lanzini for the only goal of the game in the ninth minute of the match. The Hammers fans will suggest they played well against United, but they were pretty lucky. David Moyes had his team sat back for the entire match, which is why he did not succeed at United as he does not have an adventurous style of play for his teams. Anthony Martial was terrible, which is something that has been obvious for some time – perhaps Anthony Elanga should replace him in this team?

25 September – Manchester United 0-1 Aston Villa – Premier League

Goals: Kortney Hause 88′

Assists: Douglas Luiz 88′

Manchester United fell to a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa in the Premier League. It was the first league defeat of the season; the third in all competitions with two of those coming at Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side lost both Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire to injury before seeing Kortney Hause head home in the 88th minute to put Villa ahead in the match. Edinson Cavani called for a penalty as Hause handled the ball in the box in added time and the penalty was given both by the referee and VAR. Bruno Fernandes took the penalty, sending it over the crossbar. United 18-match undefeated run against Villa is over.

29 September – Manchester United 2-1 Villarreal – UEFA Champions League

Goals: Alex Telles 60′, Cristiano Ronaldo 90+5′; Paco Alcácer 53′

Assists: Bruno Fernandes 60′, Jesse Lingard 90+5′; Arnaut Danjuma 53′

Manchester United beat Villarreal 2-1 in the Champions League at Old Trafford. It was a cagey first half with chances galore for the away side, however in-between David De Gea saving United’s blushed and poor finishing for Villarreal, United were able to avoid conceding a goal. Eight minutes into the second half, Paco Alcácer opened the scoring, assisted by Arnaut Danjuma. It took United just seven minutes to equalise with Alex Telles getting his first goal for United, assisted by Bruno Fernandes. United needed a win and that is what they got with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring in added time, assisted by Jesse Lingard.

Cristiano Ronaldo – five appearances, 432 minutes played, five goals and one MOTM award.

What a return to the Theatre of Dreams for Cristiano Ronaldo. At 36, the United haters, which included some of the cos own fans this season (the ones on Twitter, not at Old Trafford) said all they could to write him off. He’s had a better impact at the club than Alexis Sanchez, despite not matching his nine assists – but has done his five goals. A brace against Newcastle United, then single goals against Young Boys, which was a defeat, West Ham United, which was an equaliser, and now the winner against Villarreal in the Champions League, the Portuguese forward has much more to give in his career and long may that continue.

Jesse Lingard – five appearances, 174 minutes played, two goals and one assist.

A resurgent display whilst on loan for the second half of last season at West Ham may have saved his career. Seemingly on the cards for an exit in the summer but he decided to stay and fight for a place. He’s not got all that many minutes but goals against Newcastle, West Ham and an assist for Ronaldo’s winner against Villarreal shows that he might just be reborn at United, although he needs to be offering a lot more across the remainder of the season. A good player to bring off the bench at this moment in time and long may that continue too. There has been far worse players to have played for this club in the not too distant past.

David De Gea – five appearances, 450 minutes played, one penalty save and two MOTM awards.

It has been a resurgent display for David De Gea this season. He has started to rediscover his form and prove himself at the club, which is a good sign as it looked like the end of the road for him last season with Dean Henderson seeking to derail him. His positioning has become much better, he has the confidence to make saves again and saved that late penalty against West Ham, which kept United ahead and grabbing all three points from that cagey match. De Gea has been the saviour for the club in a few matches this month, and this season for that matter. He won the Man of the Match awards for the wins over West Ham and Villarreal.

Notable Mentions: Raphael Varane, Alex Telles, Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic and Jadon Sancho

There have been few players to rise to the challenge at the club this month and a few more could do a lot more for the club. Raphael Varane has strengthened the United defence to the point where there is some sort of confidence, although more could be done to stop goals being leaked. Luke Shaw has continued his form from last season, despite picking up and injury against Aston Villa that ended his month. Alex Telles has played some vital minutes after his return from injury, scoring his first goal for the club against Villarreal in a much needed win in the Champions League, coming after three defeats in four matches.

Nemanja Matic has shown his worth for United but also underlined the importance of solving the problems with the midfield, which would complete this squad for United moving forward. Matic is the only experienced defensive midfielder at the club and his performances of late have helped United, but it is well known that he cannot continue to be relied on as his performances slip the more he plays. Jadon Sancho has started to settle at the club and has shown glimpses of his worth to the club – despite the media and the CEO of Borussia Dortmund criticising his playing time at United, which so far has involved him playing 402 minutes of a possible 810 so far.

Who is your Player of the Month for September 2021?

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Who is your Manchester United Player of the Month for September 2021?

A look at what lies ahead in October…

United will play five matches in October, which could have been six if they had made it to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, which now gives them a rest between the matches against Liverpool (Home) and Tottenham Hotspur (Away). United will play four Premier League matches in October with the first against Everton (Home) which will then signed the second international break of the season with two weeks of no club football. United will then face Leicester City (Away), Atalanta (Home), Liverpool (Home) and Spurs (Away) – hopefully ending the month in style, rather than more discontent. It will be a big month for United.

2 October – Everton, Old Trafford – Premier League

16 October – Leicester City, King Power Stadium – Premier League

20 October – Atalanta, Old Trafford – UEFA Champions League

24 October – Liverpool, Old Trafford – Premier League

30 October – Tottenham Hotspur, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – Premier League

Written by John Walker

Manchester United’s deadwood problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Ethan Bents

Jesse Lingard: Should he stay, be loaned out or be sold?

Jesse Lingard has been at the club since he was a boy rising up through the academy before making his Manchester United debut on the 16 August 2014. It’s not been an easy ride for Lingard since making his debut, as he’s struggled with personal issues which have hindered his on-field form. He’s 28 years of age now, which statistically means he’s entering or is in his prime years and so if Lingard wants to take that step further in his career these years are vital to doing so. 

Lingard’s January loan move to West Ham United was very successful with him scoring nine goals and assisting five in just sixteen Premier League gamesHe even won player of the month for April which is a testament to his huge rise in form since his loan move. Now back at United, with just a matter of days left in the transfer window should he stay, go out on loan, or leave United permanently.

Lingard has a lot of qualities that could help the team this upcoming season and would provide quality squad depth in the number 10 role. His best feature is his work rate and energy. Throughout the ninety minutes Lingard never stops running, he’s always trying to find and create space as well as pressing the opposition. This high intensity makes him harder to mark as he’s constantly wearing out the defence. 

Furthermore, he’s also very strong at picking the ball up in the pockets and taking it on the half turn and driving with it. Although a seemingly simple trait, it proves very effective as it can bypass the midfield practically putting them out of the attack increasing your chances of scoring. Despite not managing a single goal or assist in 2019, when Lingard is at his best, he’s a potent threat offensively with the ability to get goals or create them. 

He may not be as technically gifted as Bruno Fernandes, but Lingard brings that ability to beat a man and has been highly effective for United in bigger games scoring in multiple cup finals. Off the field he’s also an immense presence as he lifts the spirits in the dressing room and around the club as he’s a great personality who brings the best out of others. 

This can be highly effective as it keeps spirits high amongst the players and helps maintain unity which can faulter if the team struggles and thus due to this togetherness off the field it creates a stronger bond on the field and that’ll help the team perform better. 

The main problem Lingard has is Bruno Fernandes. He’s arguably the most irreplaceable player in this United team and has been for over a year now. His incredible goals and assists record backed up by his overall effect on the United team with everything creative going through him makes him difficult to lodge. For Lingard to get in the team he’ll have to outperform Fernandes which could prove incredibly difficult. 

Having just had a remarkable loan with West Ham, Lingard won’t be looking to go back to sitting on the bench again and will want first team football but staying at United could hinder this. Unless Fernandes gets an injury, his chances of playing often are very slim and this could set him back months again. With the World Cup looming, the occasional cup game here and there with bench appearances won’t satisfy Lingard or Gareth Southgate. Without Lingard this United squad wouldn’t be too different. 

He rarely got minutes before his loan and is unlikely to get many after and thus letting him go wouldn’t hinder United too much. So, for Lingard to progress his career I feel he must leave United at least on loan if not permanently.

Financially, with the club still looking to bring in a midfielder with the likes of Eduardo Camavinga, Saul Niguez and Ruben Neves being mentioned, offloading Lingard now would provide valuable funds to potentially pursue these targets. Due to his marketability being a nearing prime years English midfielder, his value would be high and could fetch United between £18-25 million. If he was loaned it would likely only be a small loan fee that wouldn’t contribute much to raising these funds and would likely mean United can’t get that all important midfielder before the end of the transfer window. 

For Lingard, he’ll want to make sure his next step isn’t a step down and so with the emergence of West Ham recently, he might look to get a permanent move there. Across Europe there would be plenty of teams interested but being an English boy it’s unlikely he’ll want to go abroad. This narrows his permanent move options down which could result in Lingard being loaned out again.

Overall, I feel for United and Lingard’s sake he should be allowed to leave in some form. Preferably a permanent move away but with such little time left a loan deal would suit both parties. As an extra incentive, United could look to use an option to buy clause which could be triggered if Lingard performs to the level he did at West Ham. The main thing for Lingard is to get first team football and at United he isn’t promised that but he’s a quality footballer and deserves to play and thus should be let go either on loan or preferably on a permanent transfer.

Written by Ethan Bents

Jesse Lingard’s rise in form could be good for Manchester United this summer

Jesse Lingard has been at Manchester United for the last 21 years, signing for the club as a youth player, previously playing for both Fletcher Moss Rangers and Penketh United. He has made a total of 210 appearances for United as a professional player, scoring 33 goals and 20 assists in his time at the club, making his debut in the 2014/15 season under the management of Louis van Gaal. Sir Alex Ferguson had previously stated that Lingard would be a late developer in the game, which is exactly what he was, although his form stuttered over the last few seasons, which was not good for either the club of the player. During his time at United, Lingard spent many seasons out on loan with Leicester City, Birmingham City, Brighton and Hove Albion and Derby County all clubs he tried to find his form before hitting the high notes at United.

After scoring 13 goals in 48 appearances during the 2017/18 season, which was his peak for scoring goals in his career at United, Lingard then started to fall down the pecking order under Jose Mourinho, the manager who followed Van Gaal then under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, still had a barren period at the club which saw him fall from starter to bench warmer, to a player that missed out a lot of the time. A turbulent time in his family life has helped to cause a downturn in Lingard’s career and in January 2021, the 28-year-old, who should be hitting his peak was loaned to West Ham United under former United manager David Moyes. There was high hopes for the player to raise his game with fewer pressure than he would be under at United, which could reignite the player’s career in the game that he loves.

Lingard made waves at West Ham, scoring nine goals and five assists in 16 Premier League appearances, which saw the player reach for form he once had at United. The season ended with West Ham finishing sixth in the league and achieving a place in the UEFA Europa League group stages. This will be good for the London club next season, although it will case problems as they do not have regular experience of playing in European competitions taking it’s toll on the club. There was a lot of talk at the end of the with the Hammers interested in signing Lingard permanently, but also the player seemingly interested in remaining a United player and fighting his way back into the first team, which may or may not be possible for him. The lack of pressure away from United was good for him, which may result in his performances being stagnant again, if he stays.

Does Lingard have a future at Manchester United?

United have many options at the club already in the attacking positions in the squad and Lingard would definitely be behind Bruno Fernandes playing behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation. He can also play on either wing, but will be behind Marcus Rashford, Daniel James and Anthony Martial on the left and once again Rashford, James, Mason Greewood and quite possibly Amad Diallo on the right. It would see Lingard’s options reduced to a bench warmer once again, or even a player that misses out more often than not. It would be a shame if that happened. There is a chance he could get himself higher up the pecking order with Rashford carrying an injury and maybe needing an operation after Euro 2020 this summer and the fact that players who participated in the tournament may not be in the early stages of pre-season.

This would give Lingard time to impress Solskjaer and perhaps get himself into the squad, either as a starter or a substitute at the start of the 2021/22 season, with United getting ready to start the season at home to Leeds United in the first Premier League match of the season. If United were to complete the signing of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, which looks highly likely at this time, his work to get into the squad would become much harder. Saying that, United will need a payer capable of stepping in for Fernandes, who is clearly fatigued after the delay from the 2019/20 season because of the coronavirus pandemic, then the 2020/21 season commencing after a break of just four weeks or so, then a long and strenuous 2020/21 season, which saw United reach the final of the UEFA Europa League, losing to Villarreal in Gdañsk.

Lingard has shown with his form at the Hammers, that he is still a player that can put in the performances, but it is unknown whether he can meet tat same grade at United, with him working much harder to displace other players at the club in order to get more match time. It would seem that with talented youth coming through the ranks, such as Shola Shoretire, Anthony Elanga and Hannibal Mejbri – it could pose a higher level of difficulty for Lingard to achieve his place in the squad. It all seems complicated at this time, which may be simplified if a number of players were loaned this summer, or even sold. The future of Juan Mata will have a big say in what happens too, as that will leave another player to complete with – which might not be fun for Lingard. He has already had a tough summer, being named in the England training squad but removed for Euro 2020.

The future may look a lot clearer for Lingard away from the Theatre of Dreams

Lingard will become a free agent in the summer of 2022 so there is little time to get something sorted if United wanted to recoup some money from the sale of the player. There have been rumours of a £25 million transfer fee and a wage of £110,000 per week, which is something that puts the Hammers off purchasing the player as their wage bill will be hampered by that much weekly wage on one player. He would become one of the best players at the club though, with experience of the English game and more importantly, European experience, winning the Europa League in the 2016/17 season under Mourinho. There may be much work for both United and the Hammers to get a deal done for the player but there is also a chance that United would offer him a new contract, keeping him at United, or even ensuring that he cannot leave the club as a free agent.

If that was to happen, Lingard would want to be guaranteed game time at United, otherwise he would not sign a new contract as he would become frustrated. There may well be other teams out there who hold an interest in Lingard, which could pay the £25 million fee and pay the wages that he will demand, although he may need to lower his expectations as his time at United, on the wage that he has been on, does not exactly look all that great for him. Keeping Lingard at United could represent the repeat of a mistake, which has been made many times before. Phil Jones should have left the club on the expiry of his last contact with Marcos Rojo also sealing the same fate but new contracts were offered and United were stuck and still are with Jones who has not played for 18 months now. These mistakes need to be avoided if the club is to move forward.

For me, I would rather see Lingard sold. I don’t think the pressure to succeed at United would see him give the same performances he gave at West Ham and with the rumours of a new three-year deal being offered by United, it could represent yet another mistake that could cost United. If the reported £130,000 per week wage is correct, it will price so many clubs out of making an offer for Lingard, even at the end of his contract. Yes, his form at West Ham was good but not good enough for United to give hims a pay rise. He should be taking a pay cut, possibly have a bonus structure tied into his contract paying him more for good appearances but no player would accept that when they know United will pay them higher rates of money, even if they have a track record of poor performances for a number of seasons. Hopefully he wants to salvage his career away from United.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United might need to offload six more players this summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by John Walker

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must offload players to make Jadon Sancho signing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW