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Why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should consider a Manchester United backroom staff shake up

The frustration for most Manchester United fans as the club enters the midpoint of the January transfer window is that the Reds are yet to invest in the playing squad. In over a year of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s rebuild, only three players have been signed, and even they were seen to be overly long and drawn out. 

Solskjaer and those behind the scenes will continue to toe the line that only the right types will be brought in and that it is incredibly hard to bring in new talent to the club in the month of January. However, it might be an easier task to acquire the right new first team coaches for the manager to work with. Solskjaer is still learning on the job and has a squad not currently able to perform consistently, so could new ideas on the training ground lead to a sustained upturn in form? 

After David De Gea’s mistakes against Everton and Watford in December, United drafted in Craig Mawson from Burnley as a new assistant first team goalkeeping coach just before the new year. De Gea’s form in the past 12 months has been questionable but a turnaround in fortune in 2020 for the Spaniard could be the example to form a new focus on recruitment for the club.

The likes of Mike Phelan, Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna have been part of Solskjaer’s team since he arrived, although there were rumours that Phelan was to take over the role of technical director in the summer.  Since their appointments full time, fans are yet to see a substantial style of play emerging and as ever these days, managers and coaches are quick to be compared, especially with those at rival clubs. After watching Leeds United at Arsenal in the FA Cup, many wondered how Marcelo Bielsa and his staff could make a Championship team so comfortable in possession.

The truth is simply that United’s coaching staff don’t have the experience yet. In particularly Carrick, who only retired from football in May 2018 and McKenna, who prior to Jose Mourinho’s final season in charge, had only managed United and Tottenham Hotspur’s under 18’s. Although Carrick and McKenna have received backing from players, when results aren’t forthcoming, inevitably most will start to doubt their ideas.

On the other hand, a decade ago Phelan was part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s backroom staff that won three titles in five seasons and reached two Champions League finals before his departure in 2013. Since then however, he has endured a disastrous spell as manager at Hull City. There’s no doubt that Phelan was and still could be a good coach, but it’s questionable whether or not he is still in touch with the modern footballer and the game’s tactics.

Shortly after Phelan was sacked at Hull, it was revealed that the average Premier League manager lasts 91 games, with a win percentage of 30%. Solskjaer currently is on 61 matches as United manager, although currently has a better win percentage of 49%. Concerningly, this has decreased significantly ever since he was appointed permanently and could well reach the average by the end of the season. When Solskjaer came in originally, his ideas were fresh and it breathed new life into the squad who had clearly became tired of Mourinho’s approach.

To survive at United, Solskjaer will need to borrow some ideas from the great Sir Alex Ferguson, who consistently changed his coaches every few seasons to keep all aspects of training innovative. Ferguson moved from Steve McClaren to Carlos Queiroz and then onto Phelan almost seamlessly with continued success, while his changes in coaching staff often signified the dawning of a new team. From what we hear, Solskjaer isn’t going anywhere and Ed Woodward has total faith in him. For Solskjaer to be afforded the time to build his own teams however, he may have to constantly rebuild his own backroom staff.

Written by Alex Metcalfe

Patience will be needed from Manchester United supporters more than ever now

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now facing a rebuild of Manchester United and after six years of incompetence from the board, the owners and Ed Woodward, another rebuild with these three factors involved is going to rely on the supporters having the patience for things to happen. When Jose Mourinho was sacked, it was suggested that there would be a director of football at the Old Trafford club.

Months later, nothing has been ventured in this area and the director of football has now turned into a technical director, which has still not come to fruition. The end of the season is just over a fortnight away and the plans for the summer should really be in full swing right now. It is going to be another summer which promises something and delivers something else. United should have had things in place to take Woodward out of the footballing aspect of the club and put a footballing man into that role.

Supporters of this once great club have seen David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho come through the revolving doors of the club, all facing similar problems with their respective teams. Now that Solskjaer has been given a three-year contract at the club, those same problems have emerged, telling us that the individual problems were not caused by the same person and they seem to have evolved throughout each managerial reign which should be attributed to the main constants; Woodward, the board and the Glazers ownership of the club.

To suggest that the same or similar problems will come about again would not be an uneducated guess, more a certainty, unless these factors were addressed by those involved and that all depends on whether they want to look at themselves negatively, which is not something I would be guessing would actually happen. This is why patience is needed. Since Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan took over Manchester City, £1.3 billion has been put into that club, since the Glazers leveraged the buyout of United, £1 billion has been taken out of the club.

That should tell you more about the state of the club and the fact that football is not the reasons the Glazers have United, it is used to purely make money. Whilst £700 million has been spent since the summer of 2013, it does not vindicate the Glazers in any way, shape or form. The amount of money leaving the club is criminal and should not be right, especially in the fact the debt is still secured to the club and that it is unlikely to ever be paid off in full.

United have reached a very important stage in the progress of the club. The three previous attempts to replace Sir Alex Ferguson have not worked and a different approach has been taken. But how different will it actually be? Will there be any changes? Will the hierarchy learn from past mistakes? Will this approach change anything or just make it worse? I back Solskjaer, just as I backed Moyes, Van Gaal and Mourinho. However, will the hierarchy of the club back their manager?

Patience is a virtue that every supporter of the club needs to have. It is not going to be easy or pleasant to watch this cycle through the various steps again. It is not guaranteed to work but neither is it guaranteed to fail. However, previous attempts have ended with the manager being sacked and everything starting again, so looking back, United has not really moved on since 2013. This needs to be the time whereby the club actually moves on and rights the wrongs of the last six years.

There is a massive rebuild of the club that needs to happen. Last summer, Mourinho asked for a better central defender but that was seemingly vetoed as the club had players who were much better than the ones Mourinho wanted. However, after conceding 50 goals in the Premier League in 35 matches this season, it has come to light that these players are not any better and it was right that Mourinho wanted a better quality of player in defence. Teams that win league titles rely on defence to actually win what they want to win. Scoring goals is a necessity in order to win but keeping them out is also a factor in achieving that feat.

Rumours in the media suggests that Solskjaer has between £200 and £250 million to spend this summer and Solskjaer has already suggested that superstar players are not the only thing that will win you league titles and trophies, indicating that he will be seeking the type of players that put in the effort, put themselves on the line and have the mentality to win and to succeed which will, hopefully, drive the team forward. The club will also need a player capable of leading, as none of them in the current crop is worthy of doing that throughout a long and hard season.

Patience will not just have to get supporters through the summer, but also through the first season of this being integrated into the club, perhaps much longer than one season. A rebuild the size of this will take time and that is not something United has as they have, in effect, wasted six years already and are no better off for it. Solskjaer seems to have put a lot of faith into the likes of James Garner, Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and Mason Greenwood and if they are included as squad players in the first team next season, they are going to need to be afforded patience, especially if they do not hit the ground running, like some will expect them to do.

With owners like the Glazers and an executive vice-chairman like Ed Woodward, supporters of United will need to adopt patience massively. There does not seem to be a way of getting rid of either of them and they do not seem to care about the club, other than earning a buck off them. One day, they may realise that football is the reason they were able to cash in on United, getting many various sponsorship deals into the club. But when the quality of football has deteriorated so much and the sponsors are not lining up, it will be then that they realise they have done it all wrong. We need to ensure that does not happen.

Starting XI: Hull City v Manchester United – Premier League 2016/17

Manchester United take on Hull City in the Premier League at the KC Stadium this evening. Both United and Hull are undefeated so far this season, winning both of their league matches, with one of the teams likely to lose that record today. I am sure Jose Mourinho will not be holding out for a draw, and neither will Mike Phelan. United have a good squad this season and seem to be in the right mentality to continue the club’s success, which so far seems to be good. United will be utilising more of their player as the weeks go on with the EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League commencing next month. Here are the starting XI’s and list of substitutes for both teams today.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw;

Fellaini, Pogba;

Mata, Rooney, Martial;

Ibrahimovic

Substitutes:

Romero; Smalling; Young, Herrera, Mkhitaryan, Schneiderlin; Rashford

Hull City:

Jakupovic;

Elmohamady, Livermore, Davies, Robertson;

Meyler, Huddlestone, Clucas;

Snodgrass, Hernandez, Diomande

Substitutes:

Kuciak, Maguire, Maloney, Bowen, Olley, Clackstone, Hinchliffe

Scouting The Opposition: Hull City v Manchester United – Premier League 2016/17

Hull City have pulled two great wins in their return to the Premier League and have done so even with an incredible amount of injured first team members. In recent seasons, they seem to come up just as much as they go down, and this often harms their chances of improving. Especially since key players leave the club every time they go down. The Tigers finished last season in fourth place in the Championship, and with a number of great performances, they have earned themselves yet another chance to try and prove their worth in the Premier League. The summer transfer window hasn’t been exceptional for Hull City, however, as they have looked towards their younger players to substitute their injured first team players. Manchester United won’t just witness yet another former player come back to play at Old Trafford, but he also happens to be a former coach and assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson, and that man is Mike Phelan. Last season, Phelan was an assistant at Hull, but this season he has become the caretaker manager. Unfortunately for the Tigers, expectations don’t seem to be high for them to continue their winning streak, and this weekend is set to be a slowdown to their successful return to the Premier League.

Manager: Mike Phelan

As mentioned before, Phelan used to be a key figure under Sir Alex Ferguson’s successful time at Manchester United, but his time eventually came to an end when Ferguson announced his retirement back in 2013. Once David Moyes joined Manchester United, the entire coaching staff was replaced, which led to Phelan taking a year off Football, until joining Norwich City in November of 2014 as an assistant manager. Half a year later, Phelan became the manager for a short month until leaving to be an assistant to former teammate, Steve Bruce.

Form Guide:

Hull City 2-1 Leicester City

Swansea City 0-2 Hull City

Key Man: Robert Snodgrass

Robert Snodgrass isn’t the type of player that will make you stand up out of your seat every time he touches the ball, but he is a player who can certainly take control of the direction of the game if he needs to, and he will be the key man holding Hull together this Saturday. Snodgrass helps his team most when he is able to deliver the ball to the attackers. His set pieces and crossing ability are his main abilities, and that takes away the attention from the number nines. In addition, his passing and long shot should not be taken lightly, as they can be lethal.

Predicted XI:

After winning their first two games of the season, I expect Hull City to play the same team as they have done against both Leicester and Swansea. Against Swansea, Mike Phelan made Tom Huddlestone the key central midfielder, with David Meyler and Sam Clucas alongside him, and the trio had success, therefore I would expect them to play together again. As mentioned previously, I believe that Robert Snodgrass will be Hull City’s main man going forward. However, when defences pay more attention to him they tend to forget how both Abel Hernández and Adama Diomande will develop.

Score Prediction:

Hull City 0-4 Manchester United

Whilst I believe that Hull City will be optimistic to put in a great performance at home and continue their winning streak, I believe that they will play defensively and hope to hit Manchester United on the counter. I have no doubt, however, that Manchester United will put in yet another great performance and beat them, no matter what they attempt. Manchester United finally have the threat factor when playing a team like Hull, making it hard for them to stay focused even before the match has begun. Manchester United have dominated both Bournemouth and Southampton so far in the season, and I don’t believe that Hull will be any different. Players like Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic should flourish in these games and show what they’re capable of in the field, and I fully expect them to go out there with no mercy in order to win against Hull City.

Preview: Hull City v Manchester United – Premier League 2016/17

KC Stadium, Kingston-upon-Hull

Premier League 2016/17

Saturday 27th August 2016 – KO 17:30 [Live on BT Sport]

Referee: Jonathan Moss

Assistant Referees: Andy Halliday and Eddie Smart

Fourth Official: Martin Atkinson

Manchester United travel to the KC Stadium to face Hull City, a team that has started their season well, beating the Premier League holders Leicester City 2-1 and Swansea City 2-0, one of four teams this season to take maximum points; Manchester City, Manchester United, Hull City, and Chelsea. United have had a good start to their season, winning three matches in three, and they will be looking to win their fourth match in a row. Zlatan Ibrahimovic could break a 91-year-old record, should he score against the Tigers on Saturday evening, which would be a formidable start to the season, especially for a striker who many (including United supporters) said was past it. They guy is a beast, fully fit and raring to go and as former United midfielder Jesper Blomqvist said, his compatriot is pumped and ready to go. Hull manager, albeit temporary, Mike Phelan will also be looking to continue his good start of the season by beating his former club, something I am sure he would like to do, as a manager anyway.

United found out that they would face Northampton Town in the third round of the EFL Cup this season, a match which will be played on the 21st September and shown live on Sky Sports. United also saw their face in the group stages of the UEFA Europa League, where they will be pitted against Fenerbahce, Feyenoord, and Zorya Luhansk – which is a tough group for Europe’s secondary competition. Jose Mourinho will have a full squad to take to Hull with Jesse Lingard returning to training earlier in the week, so he might change things up a little. Paul Pogba will make his second United appearance this season, possibly alongside Marouane Fellaini again, but many would like to see him partner his compatriot Morgan Schneiderlin, who has yet to make a competitive start this season. United have lost the services of Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, James Wilson, and Andreas Pereira this week also and they will play for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Derby County, and Granada respectively. All will be looking to learn something in first team environments this season, hopefully using it to their advantage next season where they might contend for a place in the first team squad.

This season could be a good one for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United, but the Portuguese manager has suggested that the next few days of the summer transfer window will not be interesting, with any new signings coming in, or players leaving. The manager seems to be happy with the depth of his squad, which is a good thing and it shows that United have conducted their business early, which is what we all wanted, and the business was conducted well. Speaking during his press conference on Friday afternoon, Mourinho said:

“I have 23 players in the squad and in principle there is nobody leaving and nobody is coming.

“Twenty-three players is more than enough and, if you have a problem or an opportunity, then I have a few young players in the Academy that I will be more than happy to give an acceleration in their process.

“I like Cameron Borthwick-Jackson very much but he will go to Wolverhampton to play [on loan] because I have Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind to play left-back. These are the kind of decisions every club makes.

“I think we are going to have a very quiet week, not surrounded by helicopters waiting for someone to arrive or leave – I am more than happy with the squad I have.”

Manchester United Form:- WWWDWL

Southampton 2-0 W, AFC Bournemouth 3-1 W, Leicester City 2-1 W, Everton 0-0 D [F], Galatasaray 5-2 W [F], Borussia Dortmund 4-1 L [F]

Hull City Form:- WWLWWD

Swansea City 2-0 W, Leicester City 2-1 W, Torino 2-1 L [F], Çaykur Rizespor 3-1 W [F], Nottingham Forest 2-1 W [F], Barnsley 2-2 D [F]

Manchester United Squad;

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone

Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian

Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Suspensions/Injuries: None

Hull City Squad:

Manager: Mike Phelan

Goalkeepers: Allan McGregor, Dušan Kuciak, Eldin Jakupović, Will Mannion

Defenders: Andrew Robertson, Alex Bruce, Harry Maguire, Curtis Davies, Michael Dawson, Josh Tymon, Brian Lenihan, Josh Clackstone, Harvey Rodgers, Bradley Maslen-Jones

Midfielders: Moses Odubajo, David Meyler, Tom Huddlestone, Robert Snodgrass, Sam Clucas, Jake Livermore, Shaun Maloney, Ahmed Elmohamady, Daniel Batty, Ellis Barkworth, Greg Olley

Forwards: Abel Hernández, Adama Diomandé, Jarrod Bowen, Greg Luer, Johan Ter Horst, Ben Hinchliffe

Suspensions/Injuries: Greg Luer (knee), Josh Tymon (shin), Michael Dawson (knee), Moses Odubajo (knee), Alex Bruce (Achilles), Allan McGregor (back)

Predicted Starting XI:

Predicted Score:

Hull City 0-2 Manchester United

Press Conference: Mourinho happy with Europa League draw, quiet week coming up regarding transfers

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho sat down with the media at the AON Training Complex ahead of the Premier League clash with Hull City at the KC Stadium on Saturday evening. United also saw their group for the UEFA Europa League this season, in which they will face Fenerbahce, Feyenoord, and Zorya Luhansk – which is a tough draw for United this season, but one the players will be eager to face, despite being in Europe’s secondary competition. The Portuguese manager spoke about the draw in the Europa League, the closure of the summer transfer window on Wednesday, another player leaving on loan and this weekend’s opposition, Mike Phelan’s Hull City. Here are the main points from the press conference.

Jose Mourinho on Manchester United’s opposition in this season’s UEFA Europa League group:

“This Europa League is good because if I change the team and give a few players the chance to play against a team without expression, when everyone thinks we will win comfortably, even the players can start to think that although it is a gift, it’s not the gift they want.

“Fenerbahce is Champions League [standard], as is Feyenoord. It is a big match to play in Istanbul as it is in Rotterdam, so it is a good draw for our squad.”

Mourinho suggested that contrary to speculation, there will be no more ‘major’ moves in the transfer market this summer:

“I have 23 players in the squad and in principle there is nobody leaving and nobody is coming.

“Twenty-three players is more than enough and, if you have a problem or an opportunity, then I have a few young players in the Academy that I will be more than happy to give an acceleration in their process.

“I like Cameron Borthwick-Jackson very much but he will go to Wolverhampton to play [on loan] because I have Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind to play left-back. These are the kind of decisions every club makes.

“I think we are going to have a very quiet week, not surrounded by helicopters waiting for someone to arrive or leave – I am more than happy with the squad I have.”

Mourinho on Mike Phelan and how he hopes he is given the Hull City job permanently:

“I hope he gets the job but loses the match! It is not fair to make a decision on the manager because he loses or wins a match. I think the reality is that he was one of the most successful assistant managers in the country with invaluable experience. Then he was an important right arm to Bruce and now he has the job and has managed to organise the people, organise his team. I think he deserves the job.”

Mourinho on Manchester United’s chances of winning the Premier League this season and how top teams underperformed last season:

“I think that more points will be needed to win the competition because many of the top teams underperformed last year, which was amazing for the beauty of the competition. I think the top teams will go back to normality this year, but only one can win it.”

Jose Mourinho also confirmed that Andreas Pereira is close to securing a loan deal with La Liga side Granada, which is expected to last the duration of the 2016/17 season, which will be good for the player to hone his skills in a top European league, in a team that will give him the time to prove himself. Pereira is a decent talent, but he has somewhat stagnated over the past year. He failed to become a regular in the first team last season and was not allowed to head out on loan in January, and seldom played for United, apart from in the U21’s, after that. Louis van Gaal may have let the Belgium-born Brazilian down and he will now want to prove that he is ready to fight for a place in the squad. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and James Wilson also headed out on loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Derby County respectively.

Mourinho spoke about transfers and stated that aside from the speculation, there are no players leaving, or coming in, which suggests to me that the speculation about Jose Fonte and Fabinho was nothing more than the newspapers linking players to the club. Maybe there was some truth in it, but things did not take off like the manager thought it would, or he decided that the players he has are good enough for the coming season, and I tend to agree. It will be good to see Matteo Darmian given the chance to earn his place in the team, but he may be behind Antonio Valencia, who despite his form over the last few seasons being poor, has started well and looks to be close to the player he once was, but personally I do not think it will last. Having Darmian to compete with the Ecuadorian will keep both players on their toes and waiting for that chance to impress the manager – with a number of matches coming next month, the chance to impress could come around fast.

United have a much better squad than they had last season, the arrivals of Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba has massively improved that, given confidence to their teammates and the club’s supporters. The fear factor is returning and providing United make it three wins in three Premier League matches this weekend by beating Hull City, it will keep United flying high at the early stages of the season and put them in good stead to face Manchester City, the first big match of the season, after the international break.

copyright: JW