We’re simply two months into the brand new season however lots of the similar questions stay unanswered at Manchester United. Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the precise man for the job? Does Paul Pogba have a long-term future on the membership? Why was a confirmed proper winger not signed within the switch window?
It’s a concern that so many strains of enquiry stay open after one other busy summer time and United’s combined begin to the brand new marketing campaign has executed little to supply readability on the membership’s present course.
Defeat at Goodison Park over the weekend would have seen United expertise their worst begin to a brand new top-flight season since 1987, however as a substitute the win means they’re doing higher than at this stage final season and nonetheless solely eight factors off the highest of the desk.
With no facet displaying irresistible momentum within the Premier League to this point this season there’s nonetheless an enormous window of alternative to string collectively a run which may catapult them into the real title-challengers bracket. United demonstrated such a capability with their post-lockdown type final season and though unlikely, it may occur once more within the coming months.
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So as to accomplish such an upturn in occasions United want consistency, no extra so than in a defence which has proven transient indicators of a resurgence in latest weeks.
For a workforce which has solely stored 4 clear sheets of their 12 matches this season it may appear overly optimistic to reward the latest defensive work for the reason that final worldwide break, however there’s some logic to the argument.
United would have one other two shutouts if not for freak personal objectives in wins over Newcastle and Paris Saint-Germain, whereas their loss in opposition to Arsenal got here from a penalty which was conceded by Paul Pogba, not a defender.
The unacceptable defeat at Istanbul Basaksehir got here with unsung hero Victor Lindelof out of the facet, though it was he who skilled a lapse of focus to reward Everton their lead at Goodison Park final weekend. On paper it won’t appear a lot of an enchancment, if any, however there are definitely little nuggets scattered amongst the latest run of fixtures.
Most notably has been Lindelof, who usually goes unnoticed subsequent to the performances of Harry Maguire. The membership captain put in one in every of his finest ever United shows within the weekend win on Merseyside as he justified Solskjaer’s religion in him with a commanding defensive displaying.
United entered the worldwide break by profitable what was arguably their most vital match of the season at Everton on Saturday.
The under-pressure Reds got here from behind to beat the Toffees due to Bruno Fernandes’ double and Edinson Cavani’s first purpose for United.
United have a two-week break with a lot of their stars heading off on worldwide responsibility – we’ll be preserving tabs on how all of them carry out, and on preparations for his or her subsequent Premier League match in opposition to West Brom.
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But it’s lieutenant Lindelof who holds the essential position in bringing stability to a defensive which is beginning to showcase the identical swagger which noticed it go on a run of 9 clear sheets in 11 matches on the flip of the yr. Whereas it was Tuanzebe who stole the present for his show within the wonderful win over PSG final month, hindsight suggests it was Lindelof who gave him the safety to play with such freedom and confidence in opposition to among the best assaults on the planet.
The Swede has a knack for producing his finest performances in opposition to probably the most deadly opponents, however it’s these errors just like the one at Everton which proceed to underpin his repute on the membership.
But when analysing his progress you will need to consider how bodily drained he has been this season. Lindelof was rested in the course of the worldwide break previous to the brand new home season and Sweden supervisor Janne Andersson additionally confirmed he can be rested this month after such a ‘brutal’ fixture schedule with United.
It’s no secret United will look to signal a brand new central defender if the precise alternative arises subsequent yr however till then Solskjaer will probably be placing his religion in Lindelof forward of the abundance of different choices on the membership.
Evidently within the worst case situation the Swedish defender will drop right down to third-choice at Previous Trafford, however proper now he has a free hit at proving himself to be the long-term resolution they so desperately want.