What Man United Need To Become Title Contenders
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What Man United Need To Become Title Contenders

With arguably the most complete squad since they last won the division, Manchester United are falling well short of pre-season expectations. Sunday's 5-0 humbling at the hands of arch-rivals Liverpool could well be the final straw for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the eyes of many supporters, but with three quarters of the campaign still to go, there is plenty to play for. Should the Norwegian coach retain his position, or if the hierarchy opts for a fresh face, various aspects to the Red Devils' tactical system need urgent attention. But with so many star names, it can be hard to get everybody singing from the same hymn sheet – something former United star Paul Ince suggests is an issue.


Not Playing As A Team

Chatting exclusively with Genting, the two-time Premier League winner said: “I don’t see them playing together as a team, I don’t see it. 

“The first game of the season against Leeds was a perfect storm for United. 

“The way Leeds played, they are very open whilst teams like Villa and Everton aren’t, they’re good, organised teams, teams we struggle against. 

“Everybody loves watching Leeds but for Leeds to go to Old Trafford and play that way was a mistake and people got carried away after that result.

“It was a great United performance, but Leeds enhanced that by the style they play.”

Inconsistent And Uncertain

That inconsistency has created an identity crisis at Manchester United, with supporters never quite sure which Red Devils side is going to show up.

And Ince again puts this down to having too many big names and not enough unity.

“When Burnley play, you know how they are going to play, you know their identity, same as Manchester City and Chelsea,” he explained.

“United, they’re mixed up, it’s all about individuals; it’s all about (Paul) Pogba making something happen, or (Bruno) Fernandes, or (Cristiano) Ronaldo. 

“We don’t see them play the way we used to see them play, back when they were winning titles.”

United Success Built On Defence

United’s dominance of English football was built on a stern defence, when attackers knew that they were going to have a tough time going to Old Trafford.

From Gary Neville to Dennis Irwin, Rio Ferdinand to Steve Bruce and Patrice Evra to Nemanja Matic, Sir Alex Ferguson consistently built rock-solid backlines.

But currently, the Red Devils have the worst defensive record of any side in the top half – and only Leeds United, Watford, Newcastle and Norwich City have conceded more than their 15 goals against.

With Raphael Varane struggling with a groin injury, things don’t look like they will get much better in the short-term either.

And as long as under-performing Harry Maguire is the club captain, it is unlikely that he will be dropped, creating a real dilemma.

The transfer window is still two months away and clubs will look to up their prices, knowing that United need defensive reinforcements – so they could well pay over the odds in January to strengthen at the back.

Stand Up And Be Counted

The Red Devils face Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in their next two league matches, with a trip to Atalanta sandwiched in-between – a run of games where Ince is calling for Solskjaer’s side to stand up and be counted.

"Now, with a tough period coming up, these are the games where they need to show what they’re all about,” he said.

"These are the games where they need to show that they are world-class players, that they can change the game."




V: 1.23.0 All rights reserved. August 2021