Manchester United started their 2019/20 Premier League in style at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon, beating Frank Lampard’s Chelsea 4-0. The United starting XI had an average age of 24 years and 227 days which shows just what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to do with his team during his tenure as the manager of the club.
There were lots of things that were learned from the match and from this United squad, some positive some heading into the negative but with room for things to change, after all, Rome was not built in a day. There is a massive return for positivity though after this new-look United team turned their back on the 2018/19 season.
Harry Maguire is going to be a rock at the back…
The £80 million central defender seems to have eased into this United squad despite having just under a week of training with them, which some suggested could have been a gamble but for professional players, they can learn things quickly. It turned out that Maguire looked like he had been a part of this squad for much longer than a week. As he said himself, he will only get better as times goes on.
To have a player like Maguire in this team, right now, is such a great thing as United look to overcome adversity and put last season behind them, something that rival supporters and the ABU brigade in the media will not want to forget as they will always remind United about the past six years, which saw them fall from glory and into obscurity. The best way to hit those people is to keep on rising and with Maguire, United will rise again.
The midfield has a lack of steel but there is room to grow…
With Marouane Fellaini leaving for China during the January transfer window and Ander Herrera leaving for Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent this summer, the least that was expected was replacements for one of them or ideally, both. That never happened. United headed into the season with Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, Fred, Daniel James, Nemanja Matic, and Scott McTominay in midfield – only four of these are true central midfielders.
Against Chelsea, both Pogba and McTominay were partnered in the centre of midfield and at times, they did not seem able to bring much creativity into the team. However, this season, with the transfer window now closed, United will need to endure this and find a way forward. Some will resort to the doom and gloom, seemingly preferring United to fail rather than succeed. There is some positivity here though, his name is James Garner.
Not yet considered ready for the first team based on him not being selected, this week alone, he has put in some great performances which will keep Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s eyes firmly on his development. When given the opportunity, Garner could be a great addition to this squad, another member of the academy and a player with the ability to hold the midfield, create goals and as has been shown during his relatively short career, scored some bangers, as has been seen this weel alone.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka really is a great addition to this squad…
The 21-year-old was Solskjaer’s second signing this summer and what a signing he is so far. He seems to have turned a problematic position into a position that has been filled for the best part of a decade. He is able to defend and attack, beat his man and based on pre-season, even cross the ball into the box. That is one problem in the team sorted. Of course, it is not going to be this good all season as
The right-wing position is something that may need some integration with the likes of Mason Greenwood or even Diogo Dalot, who played in this position at times last season. But having Aaron Wan-Bissaka, it takes some pressure of the right-wing, on the attack anyway, which means the player in this position could cut inside and be an extra man with the right-back playing the ball into the box with United looking to find a goal. Solskjaer has done some great business in this area. Let’s see how well he does in a few months time.
Daniel James has dealt with the pressure and risen to the occasion…
When United signed the 21-year-old Welsh winger, it was like it was a well-known fact that this boy had the talent to play for United. I had seen him play for Swansea City a few times last season and watched him play for Wales this summer and saw just why Solskjaer made his move. In a year or so, he was going to be a player courted by many other teams, and United struck to get the deal done now, which is great.
During pre-season, Daniel James showed his pace, ability on and off the ball and his hunger and desire. Straight away, he was a great addition to this team. I was disappointed not to see him start against Chelsea but then thought about his impact off the bench, which could chase Chelsea down when they were in a period where tiredness could be striking. Seeing him replace Andreas Pereira made me think of what could come.
Within seven minutes, he had scored a debut goal, which would have fed his hunger but also added more hunger to it. To score at Old Trafford must be a great feeling, especially in a match that saw United beat a rival in this manner, which will be something that could well affect them for the rest of the season. James gave a fitting tribute to his father, who died this summer and he was surrounded but his teammates, which showed the connection these players have after a short amount of time. Daniel James is onto bigger and better things now and he is going to be a star.
Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford can share the responsibility…
For years now, we have known that both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have the determination and skills to be the players to provide the goals for this great club. The last few season’s for Martial may not have been the best but getting his number nine back after the departure of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan this summer, may once a
Rashford has seen opinion on his performances change as often as his socks but still manages to dig deep for his club. Last season, he scored ten goals, adding six assists in the Premier League alone, his best at the club so far, which should be progressing into a lot more. Two goals against Chelsea (one for Martial too) have given him the confidence to provide a lot more this season. United have a wealth of attacking talent, which on their day, much like today, can be devastating to their opposition. However, this is not a matter which has been solved as there are still 37 matches to play in the Premier League, more in other competitions. Rashford and Martial have proven they have what it takes to dig deep. As the season grows, I hope it remains the same.
There will be much more to come from United this season. Hopefully, there will be more highs than lows. Looking at the opening match though, there certainly is scope for the season to continue on a high with the next match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux a week tomorrow, meaning that United have seven days to rest before their next match, which should be one to undo the defeats to Wolves last season.