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October Review: Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Fred in the plaudits for Player of the Month

Manchester United played five times in October which started with negativity and ended with positivity. United’s season did not start as was expected, probably because of the coronavirus pandemic which saw last season delayed by three months, play into the summer with the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League being played into August. United did not have a pre-season this summer, playing just one match the week before they were due to start the 2020/21 Premier League season. United started the month at home, ending at home but with two very different matches being played.

4/10 – Manchester United 1-6 Tottenham Hotspur – Premier League

United started the month with a poor result at the Theatre of Dreams in the Premier League as Spurs ran riot winning 6-1. The last result of this proportion was back in the 2010/11 season as United lost 6-1 to Manchester City. Anthony Martial was sent off for a violent conduct with Erik Lamela escaping punishment. Hueng-min Son scored a brace, also getting an assist, which was the case with Harry Kane. The other goals scored by Tanguy NDombele and Serge Aurier. United started well, winning a penalty inside two minutes which Bruno Fernandes scored. It all went downhill from there. United would have almost two weeks to dwell on this defeat.

17/10 – Newcastle United 1-4 Manchester United – Premier League

After the international break, United had their chance to come back from their 6-1 defeat to Spurs. The match did not start all that well with Luke Shaw scoring an own goal inside two minutes but United fought back to get level with Harry Maguire heading home in the 23rd minute of the match. There were chances for each side during the match but the Magpies never really looked like they would score a goal for themselves. It seemed to be destined for a 1-1 draw, which was a positive result, however, a thunderous effort from Bruno Fernandes, a first United goal for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and a fourth goal from Marcus Rashford ended it on a high for United.

20/10 – Paris Saint-Germain 1-2 Manchester United – UEFA Champions League

That was United’s first match back in the Champions League since the 2018/19 season, spending last season in the Europa League and reaching the semi-finals of the competition. It was perhaps the biggest match of the season so far and the most difficult match, at least on paper, in the group stage. United won at the Parc des Princes at the round of 16 stage in the 2018/19 season, and they did the same here to get three points on the board. Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring in the 23rd minute from the penalty spot before Anthony Martial scored an own goal in the 55th minute. Rashford won the game for United as he did the season before last.

24/10 – Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea – Premier League

Frank Lampard has only beaten United once in four matches last season, winning the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup, only to get beat by Arsenal in the final. Returning to Old Trafford where his club was beaten 4-0 at the start of last season could have garnered a similar consequence despite the money the club has spent in the summer to rejuvenate the squad, which is not happening to a consistent level at this moment in time. United were the better team in the 0-0 draw and should have at least scored one goal. Edinson Cavani made his debut and almost bagged a goal instantly. It was not meant to be for United – still unbeaten against Chelsea in the league.

28/10 – Manchester United 5-0 RB Leipzig – UEFA Champions League

The last match of the month for United and despite the stutter at the start of the month, United have turned their form around. Leipzig had never faced United before, so this was another unknown fixture. United took the lead through Mason Greenwood in the 21st minute with a superb finish. United seemed to be on top despite some chances by the German side and David De Gea making a few good saves. Marcus Rashford scored United’s second in the 76th minute, which was flagged for offside but given by VAR. Two minutes later he had a brace. Anthony Martial then won a penalty and scored with Rashford competing his hat-trick in added time.

Bruno Fernandes – five appearances (four starts), 335 minutes, two goals, two assists and one Man of the Match award.

The Portuguese midfielder has really taken to United like a duck to water in his short time playing for the club. He only made his debut at the start of February and has already scored 16 goals and 12 assists in 30 appearances for the club. Popular with the supporters of the club but also able to back that up on the pitch. There are very few matches that he has not been an inspiration in, even this month. Some say that he only scores penalties, which was quashed with that thunderous strike against the Magpies. Fernandes has registered more assists that any other United player in all competitions under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Marcus Rashford MBE – five appearances (four starts), 387 minutes, five goals, two assists and one Man of the Match award.

From taking on the Government to feed children who are on the poverty line to pulling out the performances for United to fire the goals is something that Rashford has done throughout the month of October. Since earning his MBE the 22-year-old has continue to give both on and off the pitch, earning the plaudits for both. He scored his first senior hat-trick against Leipzig on Wednesday evening, showing his true grit and ability to drive United forward. He also scored at the Parc des Princes once again, the second time he has done so in his career – the winning goal each time. His hat-trick was the quickest ever in the Champions League (27 minutes from start to finish).

Fred – five appearances (four starts), 384 minutes – becoming a big game player?

The Brazilian has been paired with Scott McTominay in a midfield pivot in three matches in October; Newcastle United (4-1), Paris Saint-Germain (2-1) and Chelsea (0-0), coming off the bench against Spurs and starting in a midfield diamond against RB Leipzig (5-0). Fred’s positional intelligence was one of the main reasons for him starting this month but his work-rate against Leipzig was immense which became his and United’s best performance of the month going from that big defeat to Spurs to a big victory, seemingly turning a full circle. United are yet to lose a match that Fred has started; in six starts United have won five and drawn one.

Notable Mentions: David De Gea, Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba.

David De Gea has played 450 minutes of football in October and started the month with an all time low conceding six goals at Old Trafford for the second time in his career. As the month grew on through, his confidence and form started to get much better. Against Newcastle, he started to inspire, continued that in Paris, then against Chelsea putting in a great performance against Leipzig on Wednesday. Harry Maguire played 360 minutes in October, again started badly conceding six to Spurs but grew as the month went on despite missing the PSG match to injury. He scored the equaliser against Newcastle and led by example during the month.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has received praise this month for his performances. He scored his first goal for the club against Newcastle and has played 441 minutes and had some good performances against Newcastle, PSG and Leipzig. Scott McTominay played a total of 290 minutes in October, starting three of the five matches, coming off the bench for another. He played in a pivot with Fred for most of his matches, doing well for his club. Paul Pogba has played 247 minutes, coming off the bench more than starting. He seems to have found a new position in a diamond with Solskjaer playing with his tactics. Two assists for the Frenchman will hopefully inspire him more.

Who is your Player of the Month for October 2020?

A look at what lies ahead in November…

United will play six matches in November and Solskjaer will be looking to improve in the Premier League, carrying the form from the UEFA Champions League into the competition. United will play three matches at Old Trafford and three away from home in November, seeking to continue their good start to the Champions League season (two wins from two). United finished October sitting in 15th place in the Premier League, topping their group in the Champions League. If United can start November with a victory over Arsenal, carry that into their clash with Everton, those two matches could propel them up the table. November’s matches are against;

1/11 – Arsenal, Old Trafford – Premier League

4/11 – Istanbul Basaksehir, Fatih Terim Stadium – UEFA Champions League

7/11 – Everton, Goodison Park – Premier League

21/11 – West Bromwich Albion, Old Trafford – Premier League

24/11 – Istanbul Basaksehir, Old Trafford – UEFA Champions League

29/11 – Southampton, St Mary’s – Premier League

Written by John Walker

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finds the key to success for his front three with Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood in with the goals this season

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be very happy with his squad at this moment in time for what they have achieved on the pitch since the Premier League restart. His squad has thrilled with their attacking endeavours with Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood providing 56 goals and 21 assists in all competitions.

United are currently on a 17-match unbeaten run and will go against at Old Trafford when they welcome Southampton in the Premier League on Monday evening. United have something to achieve in this match, not only stretching their unbeaten run to 18 matches but to break into the top four of the Premier League, leapfrogging Chelsea and Leicester City.

Both clubs lost this weekend in humiliating fashion, Chelsea lost 3-0 to Sheffield United with Leicester losing 4-1 to Bournemouth. If United can take advantage of this, they could be third later this evening with advantage ahead of their rivals, now that Manchester City’s ban in European competition has been reversed after appeal.

United seem to be playing free-flow attacking football at this time, which is all I have ever wanted to see since Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season. Some suggest a degree of attacking freedom is the reason for this. However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says differently with a strict framework across the front three of his team.

Both Rashford and Martial have scored 20 goals this season, both reaching their best ever season for United with teenage attacker Greenwood scoring 16 goals so far, four of them in United’s last three matches alone. Solskjaer was asked about the trio, how they rotate and if they are modelled on Barcelona trio Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar. Solskjaer said:

“It’s not new for United! Did you not watch Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez when they were playing when Sir Alex gave them some freedom?

“Within a framework and structure, we do work a lot on patterns and positions and where we want the players to be, but within that we understand that you might pop up on the right or the left or be in different positions, but we have to fill different positions.

“There has been too much, last year, sometimes this year, players want to gravitate over to the left, and go on there and play tippy-tappy football.

“That is something we wanted to get rid of, and we have been more progressive and more disciplined in our positions.”

United have just four matches to play in the Premier League, including Monday’s match with Southampton. They play again on Thursday, travelling to London to face Crystal Palace before their Emirates FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Sunday. Then, to complete the domestic season, a visit to Old Trafford for West Ham United before United face Leicester City away on the final day fo the season.

Manchester United are ‘the real deal’ and whoever finishes ahead of them next season ‘will win the league’ says Robbie Savage

Manchester United have seemingly started their rise in the Premier League to grasp a higher-placed finish this season with an aim to secure UEFA Champions League football next season, taking on Leicester City now to finish in fourth place, unless then can aim higher. In the past four matches, they have broken a record, which is a good thing.

United, led by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, have become the first Premier League team to win four matches in a row by scoring three or more goals in each match; beating Aston Villa, Brighton and Hove Albion and Sheffield United by 3-0 scorelines and beating Bournemouth 5-2, which has set the ball rolling for more improvement this season.

Former United academy star, Robbie Savage has written a complimentary article on his former team in The Mirror, in which he praised 18-year-old Mason Greenwood, who has hit 16 goals for the club this season, which could see the teenager match or even break a club record, providing he scores two or more goals this season. Savage said:

“Mason Greenwood is not just the future of English football and a phenomenal young talent.

“If he manages two more goals on the run-in for Manchester United, he will have scored more in his first season for the club as a teenager than George Best, Wayne Rooney and Brian Kidd.

“Greenwood has not just appeared from nowhere on the United conveyor belt. Inside the club, he has been earmarked as a bright prospect for some time.

“But 16 goals to date in his debut season at first team level speaks for itself. Greenwood is the real deal. He is being managed perfectly by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is giving him due praise in public but reminding him to live his life the right way off the pitch.

Savage also talked about United’s interest in Jadon Sancho, which has been running for some time with significant developments in the fact that United have seemingly stated what they will pay with Borussia Dortmund stating what they would accept and various rumours impending from there. The context was about United attack with Sancho and Greenwood included, saying:

“And if United try to sign Jadon Sancho or Harry Kane in the transfer window, we could be watching England’s front three at Old Trafford next season: Sancho or Kane, Greenwood and Marcus Rashford.”

Savage also spoke about United next season, suggesting that whoever finished above them in the league will win the league, which makes you think about what he is saying. He complimented United’s form at this stage of the season but suggested that they need improvement to bring something to the league. Speaking about this, Savage said:

“United have been so impressive since football’s return from lockdown that I believe, with only two or three additions down the spine of the team, they are genuine top-two contenders next season.

“In fact, I will make this prediction: Whoever finishes above United in 2021 will win the title – especially if they strengthen the squad.

“I would go for Kalidou Koulibaly, the Napoli captain, because he would bring pace to the heart of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s back four.

“I would go for a playmaker to provide competition for Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba, who was absolutely majestic at Aston Villa on Thursday night – maybe Jack Grealish or James Maddison.

“And I would go for Sancho or Kane, which would send a signal to the rest of the Premier League: United are back in business.

“Obviously we can’t be sure, at this stage, how heavily the coronavirus pandemic has impacted on clubs’ spending power.

“But I get the impression Solskjaer is close to assembling an irresistible attacking force who can play with the swagger, intensity and tempo United fans have come to expect down the years.

“A front five of Fernandes, Pogba, Rashford, Greenwood and Kane or Sancho would take some stopping.

“As it is, Solskjaer has beaten Manchester City three times this season and one way or another I expect United to qualify for the Champions League next year – either through a top-four finish or by winning the Europa League.

“And they are free-scoring – the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive games by a three-goal margin.”

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood compared to Liverpool’s front three by Gary Neville

Former Manchester United captain and Class of 1992 graduate Gary Neville believes that Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have the ‘talent and ability’ to become United’s version of Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. This season, the United trio have been on fire, at times.

This season, Rashford, 22, has made a total of 37 appearances for the club, scoring 20 goals and nine assists, whereas Martial, 24, has made 40 appearances, scoring 20 goals and seven assists and Greenwood, 18, has made 42 appearances, scoring 16 goals and five assists. In total, the trio has scored 56 goals and 21 assists – 77 goal contributions.

United have done well since returning to action after the coronavirus pendmic suspended world football and have, in their last four Premier League matches, won each by scoring three or more goals in each match; 3-0 against Sheffield United, Brighton and Hove Albion and Aston Villa with a 5-2 victory over Bournemouth.

The Liverpool trio have scored 50 goals between them; Salah 21, Mane 18, and Firmino 11 with the trio assisting 10, eight, and ten goals respectively. In total, the trio were responsible for a total of 78 goal contributions – one more than United. It shows that the future could be good for United, once this front three gain more experience together.

Seemingly pouring cold water on the current hype, Neville insisted that the United trio have raw talent which could help them become best attack in the league. On the United legends podcast, entitled the Gary Neville podcast, Neville spoke about the United trio, going into detail about his thoughts and opinions, saying:

“Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are matured, they are established, they are the real deal – the best front three in the Premier League. I was saying that even when Manchester City were winning the league.

“The three that United have got are not at the level of Liverpool’s front three yet, you wouldn’t expect them to be, but they have the talent and ability.

“There were questions whether Rashford was good enough, whether Martial was good enough and Greenwood hadn’t obviously emerged back then, but they are proving they are good enough, that they can play and that they will get better.

“The Liverpool front three are ahead, but it is exciting for Manchester United. If you believe in young players and give them opportunities in the positions they want to play in, you will be amazed what you can achieve.”

Marcus Rashford praises Mason Greenwood and tells him to keep doing what he is doing

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has given some important advice to teammate Mason Greenwood, who has announced himself on the Old Trafford stage this season. The 18-year-old score three goals in the past two matches, raising his goal tally to 15 goals for his club this season. Rashford, who has lived what Greenwood is living, talks about it.

The 18-year-old has been a different player since the return to Premier League action last month. He scored and assisted against Brighton and Hove Albion at the start of the week, scoring a brace against Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Saturday in a 5-3 victory, United 16th match unbeaten at this stage of the season.

So far this season, Greenwood has made a total of 41 appearances for United, playing in the Premier League, the UEFA Europa League, the Carabao Cup and the Emirates FA Cup. He has scored 15 goals and five assists for the first team, having 20 goal involvements, an average of 0.49 goals per match, which is a great record for a player of his age.

There are few players better placed than Rashford to give Greenwood some advise on the situation he now finds himself in. Rashford rose to the limelight during the 2015/16 season, scoring a brace against Midtjylland in the Europa League, then in his next match, only days later, a brace against Arsenal in the Premier League. Rashford said:

“He’s a fantastic player. I’ve watched him before he got to the first-team. It was never a matter of if he was going to play with us, it was just when – when can we get him involved?

“You’ve got no reason not to have confidence in a player like Mason [Greenwood]. I just tell him to keep doing what he’s doing because what he does is score goals, so he doesn’t need to do anything else.

“Forget everything, whatever people are doing outside, whether it’s praise or negativity.”

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believed that Greenwood is the best finisher at the club at present and has scored goals which season with either foot, which is a good sign of the career he could have for both club and country. Greenwood is a breath of fresh air in front of goal and a player that can raise the fear from the opposition.

Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial told to up their game by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United forwards Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have been told by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to up their game or he will seek to find replacements in the transfer market this summer. This season, both Rashford and Martial have each scored 19 goals, which is a good achievement but consistency is needed.

United are on a 14-match unbeaten run at this stage of the season, which is the best form the club has been in this season. United will return to Premier League action on Tuesday evening as they travel to the Amex to face Brighton and Hove Albion, needing another win to keep the pressure on Chelsea. Speaking about Martial and Rashford, Solskjaer said:

“We’re too far away from where we need to be and want to be.

“We have always got to look at improving and if they don’t improve, we might have to look somewhere else to get better because we have to be better.”

Solskjaer had to fight for his place in the squad under Sir Alex Ferguson during his playing career due to the many good attacking players at the club at the time. He would like Rashford, 22, and Martial, 24, to experience the same fear at the Theatre of Dreams during their careers, which should bring out the best in them. Solskjaer also said:

“If you think you’ve got a divine right to be playing every game and are doing so well that we’re not going to look for players to replace you, you’re in the wrong place.

“I’ve been here myself for so many years as a striker and Teddy Sheringham comes in, Dwight Yorke comes in, Ruud van Nistelrooy comes in, Wayne Rooney comes in.

“You need competition for places at Manchester United.”

Rashford and Martial are good players but knowing that you cannot be dropped because you are the only experienced attacking players at the club, at least before Odion Ighalo arrived in January, is not exactly the best thing to have at the club. If a player knows they are undroppable, it could contribute to more failure than success.

Solskjaer has Ighalo and Mason Greenwood to call upon at the present time if either Rashford or Martial, or both, are off key. However, Greenwood is in his first season as a regular first team player at the club and despite scoring 12 goals, he is not the player to solve the problem, at least right now it could be too much pressure for him. Solskjaer continued by saying:

“They’re good boys to talk to, discuss and sit with and they know that I trust them, they know I want the best for them.

“But they also know I’ve got to make decisions for the team and the club.”

Rashford was in good form this season then suffered an injury to his back which looked set to keep him out for the rest of the season. However, the coronavirus pandemic gave him time to recover before football returned and now he is on the way to getting back his form again. Rashford has improved for United each season and having scored 13 goals each season for the last two, has broken that by six this season. Solskjaer concluded by saying:

“Marcus is on his way to his best season ever, so I’m looking forward to him getting more minutes. He’ll definitely score soon.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hails world-class Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford after duo return from injury

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hailed Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford as world-class after the pair returned from injury to inspire United in their last two matches after the coronavirus suspended Premier League returned. United drew 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur and beat Sheffield United 3-0 after Project Restart.

With both Rashford and Pogba returning to action after overcoming injury, they strengthened United’s squad for the remainder of the season with Solskjaer seeking to earn a top four finish in the Premier League and lift the Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League. It may not work that way though. Speaking about the pair, Solskjaer said:

“With so many players back fit now, everybody can see the quality we have in our ranks.

“The players who came on at Spurs made a difference, which shows you the level of competition we’ve got in the squad now.

“Even before lockdown we were on a strong run of form. Now we’re able to call upon world-class players like Paul and Marcus returning from injury.

“Paul could tell you more than most about our evolution, because the team he’s rejoining now is a different team to the one that started the season. Our development is there for all to see.”

United kept chase on Chelsea with a 3-0 victory over the Blades on Wednesday and now just two points split the two sides, which could be strengthened if Frank Lampard’s side beat Manchester City on Thursday evening. Pogba made his first start since September in the match, which shows how much he has been missed this season.

Anthony Martial scored his first hat-trick for United against the Blades, the first hat-trick scored by a United player since Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores three goals against Saint-Etienne in the Europa League on the 16 February 2017. Solskjaer has also confirmed that he has been helping Martial with his finishing, speaking after the victory over the Blades, he said:

“We have worked a lot with Anthony on his movement in there and to be patient in there because he’s a quality player who can drop out of the box and get some touches.

“But that’s where you score the goals, and the last one of course was very nice combination play and a great finish.

“We work with the boys on finishing all the time. We could have scored more today, so we don’t want to miss chances where we could score and Anthony was very efficient.”

Marcus Rashford can become the ‘best player in the world’ and win the Ballon d’Or, says Luke Shaw

Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw believes that teammate Marcus Rashford has become a top player at the Old Trafford. At the age of 22, Rashford has been lauded for his off the pitch activities, taking a big interest in social matters and feeding poorer people. However, on the pitch, his teammate believes something special is happening.

Rashford was in great form when he suffered a devastating injury earlier in the year, breaking two bones in his back. The United forward has made a total of 31 appearances playing in the Premier League, the Carabao Cup, the Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League, scoring 19 goals and six assists. Shaw, speaking of his talented teammate, said:

“There’s no reason why, if he keeps going, keeps pushing himself, that he can’t win it one day.

“He knows he has the ability to be one of the best and he’s pushing himself all the time to maximise that.

“He’s looked unstoppable at times this season and he’s looked so confident. I haven’t seen that in him before.

“He was always confident, but not to this level, and he’s matured so much.

“He’s improved greatly from when he first came on the scene, not just on the pitch, but off the pitch as well.

“He always wants to learn, always wants to get better and, to me, he’s getting better every time I see him play.

“He’s matured so much. He’s really turned into a man.”

During the coronavirus pandemic with the country on lockdown, Rashford, who had already learned English Sign Language in order to judge a competition, decided that more could be done for people of the country who needed some extra help, so he paired with FareShare, providing food for vulnerable children. Shaw said:

“I think everyone’s seen the way he’s conducted himself off the pitch, especially during this pandemic, he’s been unbelievable.

“He’s a big inspiration for a lot of young people, especially the ones who are coming through from Manchester.

“In Marcus, they’ve got someone to look up to not just on the pitch but off it too, which is really nice to see.

“He’s a massive example to everyone.

“He’s matured so much and a lot of credit for that goes to him and also to his family, who have kept him very grounded.”

One thing is for sure, Rashford has so much more to give, seemingly both on the football pitch and away from the game and I think he will continue doing both. It is great to see a footballer that does not forget where he came from. If he does indeed find himself nominated for the Ballon d’Or in the future, it will be something that the player deserves, whether he wins or not.

Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba will be fit when the season resumes, says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed that both Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba will be fit when the 2019/20 Premier League season resumes, which could be next month. Rashford has been out of action since January with a back injury and Pogba being on the sidelines since December with an ankle injury.

Rashford, 22, has made a total of 31 appearances for the club this season, scoring 19 goals and five assists, playing in the Premier League, the Emirates FA Cup, the Carabao Cup and the UEFA Europa League. He he still the top scorer for the club this season, despite his long layoff due to injury and could have so much more to offer.

Pogba, 27, has made just eight appearances for the club this season, playing in the Premier League and the Carabao Cup. The Frenchman has not scored any goals this season, assisting twice in the opening match of the season, a 4-0 victory over Chelsea, the team United will be trying to knock out of the top four this season.

The duo are currently training with United since group training resumed in the past week or so but the pair, and their teammates, have been training in their own time during the lockdown, maintaining their fitness levels. It will be a welcome return for the pair, as will the return of United with them being missed by many during the past few months.

It was reported earlier today that United’s players all returned from the lockdown not putting on any additional weight during the lockdown, which is a good thing for United as it will be much quicker to attain match fitness. Solskjaer confirmed on the clubs television channel, MUTV that both Rashford and Pogba will return, saying:

“They’re both looking good. They’ve joined training now and they’ve done everything the other boys have been doing.

“No reaction so far, touch wood. When we get started, it looks like we can have a full squad to choose from.

“We’re back in training which has been great. The boys have been fantastic, the weather’s been good and they’ve enjoyed it.

“Hopefully now we’ve proved we can do this safely and we can move to the next step.

“It’s been really enjoyable being on the training ground again.”

Once the final details of the resumption of the 2019/20 season has been confirmed, United will have nine Premier League matches to contend with against Tottenham Hotspur (A), Sheffield United (H), Brighton and Hove Albion (A), Bournemouth (H), Aston Villa (A), Southampton (H), Crystal Palace (A), West Ham United (H), and Leicester City (A).

They will also have a UEFA Europa League match against LASK (H) to play, the second leg in the round of 16, after winning 5-0 in the first leg, presumably playing two matches in the quarter-finals, should they get through. United will also have a quarter final clash with Norwich City (A) in the Emirates FA Cup. Top four and more is still to play for this season.

Rashford, Martial and Greenwood; the attacking line to guide Manchester United back towards greatness?

Manchester United are not yet back on the road to greatness but something has been happening with the clubs attack this season which has seen Marcus Rashford achieve his best season in terms of scoring goals, Anthony Martial is well on the way to matching his best ever season for the club and academy graduate Mason Greenwood is showing his skill, desire, determination and hunger to achieve for the club he has played for since he was about six-year-old.

United, under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, are currently fifth in the Premier League table, five points shy of fourth-placed Chelsea. If recent poor results had been different, United could well be inside the top four in the league, which is where they want to be at the end of the season. United has played 33 matches in all competitions so far this season (this was written before the Emirates FA Cup replay with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford on Wednesday).

So far, a total of 53 goals have been scored in all competitions, including two own goals which have helped United. It may not be a great number of goals, considering Liverpool has scored 77 goals in all competitions this season but they really are the benchmark this season, sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League table 14 points ahead of reigning Champions Manchester City – and they have a game in hand yet. It seems likely that they will win the league this season, unfortunately.

Despite the discontent which can be seen aligned to the club if you use social media, there are some positives to look at, if you are able to see past the criticism and actually look at the changes which have been made since the summer. Solskjaer has a plan to rebuild the club and he wants to do it properly. Shortcuts have been taken since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and they have not worked. Patience is something that needs to be applied with the club for the foreseeable future.

The attacking trio of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood has been responsible for 39 goals in all competitions this season with a further ten goals being assisted by them. That is a big share of the 51 goals United have actually scored this season, which obviously does not include the own goals scored by opposition teams. The one think that really annoys me is the lack of creativity and the fact that reinforcements were not made in the summer, which has been costly.

In January 2019, Marouane Fellaini left the club for China – he was not replaced. In the summer, Ander Herrera left the club – he was not replaced. Both of these players needed to be replaced to keep the midfield deep in depth, which turns out would have been needed with all the injuries. Romelu Lukaku was sold and not replaced, although Mason Greenwood came into the squad and Alex Sanchez left on loan and was not replaced, although he really did not do much anyway.

United desperately need another striker, preferably one with experience, an attacking midfielder, and a defensive midfielder as the main priorities at this moment in time. That should really have been the minimum in the summer, added to the arrival of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James, and Harry Maguire. When you look at the goals scored by Rashford, 19, Martial, 11, and Greenwood, nine – you see that these players are rising in stature and dragging United out of the doldrums this season.

Rashford has already broken his best seasons at the club, the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons where he scored 13 goals in each season – he has scored six more goals so far this season. Martial with 11 goals is well on the way to reaching the same number of goals he scored in his debut season, the 2015/16 season where he scored a total of 17 goals. He scored 12 last season so has one more to get to match that and he has spent two months on the sidelines through injury.

Greenwood made his break into the squad last season, playing for times but made his breakthrough this season, so far playing a total of 26 times, scoring nine goals. He was used to scoring goals in the academy where he made a total of 52 appearances, scoring 49 goals and assisting 18 more. Obviously, he has had to step his game up a bit and seems to come off the bench more often than starting matches, but has impressed his teammates and the manager each time he has played.

When you look at the 39 goals and 10 assists that Rashford, Martial and Greenwood are responsible for and look at the likes of Liverpool, who have Mohamed Salah (14 goals, 8 assists), Sadio Mane (15 goals, 9 assists) and Roberto Firmino (9 goals, 9 assists) – totalling 38 goals and 26 assists this season – United’s trio of attacking players are not that far off matching those numbers. With better creativity behind them, and a change in formation from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3, it could be a lot better.

For long spells of the season, United have been missing Paul Pogba, the player who was the top goalscorer last season, also for assists, chances created etc, has been a big miss in the team. There has been a lot of speculation surrounding his future, which is still buzzing around the media now. Scott McTominay has also missed a lot of football this season, which has left United scratching their heads in terms of how the team works. It is clear that buying players is the only main option to take.

Bruno Fernandes has been linked to the club again with speculation suggesting that a deal could be struck this month, but the same was said in the summer. This season, Fernandes has scored 15 goals and assisted a further 13, which does not mean he will create the same numbers at United from the start, if he is signed. Creativity is the key and getting that right will enable Rashford, Martial and Greenwood to increase their goals and assists which will be great for United.

Obviously, there are a lot of things that need to change in order for United to come through the other side as a team capable of challenging for the Premier League title once again. There is still lots of deadwood at the club which needs to be cleared out, players on high wages who has no desire to move to another club because they are well paid at United and that wage will not be met anywhere else – whilst these players are contracted, why would they have any desire to move on?

The club needs to formulate a plan to take the club back into the 21st century. a technical director or even a director of football needs to have full control over the footballing side of the business otherwise this rot will continue and before anyone knows it, the club will be back on the decline. The owners of the club either need to think about selling up or putting football over profits and seeing the team drive towards success on the pitch, which in turn will keep the profits coming in.

I think Solskjaer is doing his best – some may not see that as good enough but this is not FIFA or Football Manager, this is real life. The critics of every manager the club has had post-Ferguson have not achieved anything in the game. These are just people who lack patience and demand everything at the click of the finger, something they are not going to get. Patience is a virtue that needs adopting. Ferguson had opposition and look what happened there…

copyright: JW