Tag Archives: Manchester United

The Boys Are Back In Town

The Talking Manchester United boys are back! After a lengthy hiatus, Paul and Ash are back behind their mics.

In this weeks episode you can expect to hear a Burnley match review and a Leicester City match preview.

Paul and Ash will also give their thoughts on Manchester United’s transfer business (or lack thereof) and Pochettino’s top 4/trophies comments.

Staying true to tradition, the guys will also read out and discuss your tweets to ensure you remain involved!

It should still be Poch…no, Ole…no, Poch

Prior to the Tottenham game this past weekend, I had decided that, whatever the result, I would upload a post claiming that Mauricio Pochettino should still be the next manager of Manchester United. However, the game, and victory, threw a huge spanner in the works…

I think we can all agree that nobody expected us to walk away from Wembley with three points. It has been widely publicised that Solskjaer’s first five games as caretaker manager of Manchester United were all games that he was expected to win. Hell, even Paul Ince claims he could have equalled Solskjaer’s start. However, delving deeper into the aftermath of Sunday’s 1-0 win has enhanced the United legends stock when it comes to taking over the reigns permanently.

Let’s be honest, the five games prior to the Spurs game didn’t really tell us a lot in regards to what Solskjaer’s style would be for the rest of the season. Sure, the attacking flair was back but we were rarely in a position where a ‘Plan B’ was needed. Tottenham was always going to be the game where we gained a measure on what could be achieved during the remainder of the season.

Billed as an audition between Ole and Poch, it is certainly the former that has edged ahead based on Sunday’s showing. United were ahead just before half time courtesy of a cool Marcus Rashford finish off the back of a sublime Paul Pogba pass and few could argue that we were not good for the lead. In fact, the first half was just like the games prior. The real test would be the second half when the inevitable Tottenham backlash began.

Tactically, Solskjaer got the second half down to a tee. Sure, we were under the cosh for long periods and, yes, De Gea was a brick wall but it is already forgotten that Hugo Lloris himself pulled off three decent saves to prevent United extending their lead. In short, Solskjaer had a Plan B. Pochettino, however, didn’t.

Tottenham switched formation at the beginning of the second half, a move immediately mirrored by Solskjaer to alleviate the threat posed by Ben Davies and Keiran Trippier. The enforced Erik Lamela change just before half time proved to be disastrous as Poch then stuck Christian Eriksen out on the wing to accommodate the more centrally-minded Lamela.

The Tottenham manager refused to make any more changes until the 81st minute, removing Harry Winks for Fernando Llorente, in what looked like a desperate final roll of the dice. Admittedly, at this stage it looked as if Tottenham were good value for a goal. However, with United tiring, the change should have come at least 10 minutes sooner. Solskjaer responded immediately by withdrawing Jesse Lingard for Diego Dalot to reinforce the defence.

Pochettino failed to make a third substitution as he, quite simply, ran out of ideas. Tottenham’s fail safe ‘Plan A’ just wasn’t working and he had no idea how to change it, despite only making two substitutions and leaving Danny Rose on the bench. Introducing Rose and his pace into the game could seriously have hurt a tiring United defence. Poch, simply, got it wrong.

David De Gea has quite rightly earned the plaudits for his Wembley heroics but Solskjaer should take just as much of the glory. He won’t, because he isn’t Jose Mourinho, but he deserves every iota of praise he has received. Not only did he out think Pochettino, he got the better of him tactically and wasn’t afraid to react instantly to what was panning out in front of him.

At this point I would say my preference would still be for Pochettino to be the next permanent manager of the club. However, not for one second would I be disappointed to see Ole be retained beyond this season.

Are We About To See Rashford Re-born?

Marcus Rashford made his name in a Manchester United shirt during a Europa League match against FC Midtjylland on February 25th, 2016.

Rashford was named on the bench for the tie. However, during the match warm-up, an injury to Anthony Martial meant the 18-year old was to make his debut in the starting XI. Continue reading Are We About To See Rashford Re-born?

Have Manchester United Hit The ‘Reset’ Button?

When the news broke that club legend, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, was to become interim manager at Manchester United for the remainder of the season, I felt a mixture of excitement and confusion.

Excited, for obvious reasons. As stated above, he is a club legend. He has always been open about his love for the club and his dream to manage it.  Continue reading Have Manchester United Hit The ‘Reset’ Button?

It’s only Fulham…

“It’s only Fulham”

It was inevitable really. Lose and further fuel would’ve been added to the rumblings to remove Mourinho from the post of Manchester United manager. A draw would’ve returned the same result. Scrape a win and it would’ve been unacceptable. Batter them and ‘it’s only Fulham’. Continue reading It’s only Fulham…

What is going on??

Those of you that follow me (not many I know) will know that I have been very much in the ‘Mourinho-In’ camp for some time. Whilst many, including our very own Mark Goldbridge, have pitched up tents over in the ‘out’ camp, I have remained across in my field, like an old man at Glastonbury a week after the festival has finished. Continue reading What is going on??

Is a Zlatan return a good thing?

“To some at United, it is not a coincidence that disharmony within the squad has become an issue since Ibrahimovic moved away.”

The above quote, published by Mark Ogden, will no doubt attract criticism and ridicule on social media but is it really that far wide of the mark? Continue reading Is a Zlatan return a good thing?

5 Surprise Midfield Signings for Manchester United

5 Surprise Midfield Signings for Manchester United

It is imperative that Manchester United have to invest in the midfield in order to challenge for a title next season. Amid links to midfielders such as Toni Kroos, Sergej Milinkovic Savic, and Fred, what are some of the other options Manchester United have? Here’s five midfielders that would surprise Manchester United fans, but aid us in our title quest next season.

5. Julian Draxler

 

Age 24
Club PSG
Contract Ends 2021
Height 6’ 2”

 

 

 

Draxler has featured in an ultimately disappointing PSG side this season, playing alongside the likes of Verratti, Mbappe and Neymar, yet failing to win the big prizes the club set out to win. With Neymar and possibly Verratti likely to force a move, Draxler may also be looking to find a way out of the French club this season. Capable of playing on the wing or in midfield, Draxler would be perfect for Manchester United. He’s a top class player who can score, create and add flair to our attack. Draxler will also be 25 in September, the perfect age for our squad. In addition, PSG will have to pay 180 million euros to AS Monaco in order to keep Kylian Mbappe, and they will certainly look to get any money they can to avoid breaking FFP rules. If Manchester United act fast enough, they could sign him for a reasonable price. While we have been tentatively linked to him in the past, this is a player Manchester United could very well sign this season

4. Lucas Torreira

 

Age 22
Club Sampdoria
Contract Ends 2022
Height 5’ 6”

This young Uruguayan midfielder has done exceptionally well for Sampdoria in Serie A this season. A center-defensive midfielder who is similar to Michael Carrick, Torreira excels at transitioning the ball quickly from back to front, using his incredible passing range and astute reading of the game to transition the ball into the final third. Torreira would be an ideal addition to our midfield, as he could rotate with Matic or play in a midfield three with Pogba, giving him license to go forward while also contributing offensively with playmaking from deep. However, he is only 22, and with Mourinho growing impatient with the likes of Rashford and Martial, there is no evidence he will sign such a young player. He’s also contracted until 2022, which would make him fairly expensive for such a young player. But Torreira will almost certainly be snapped up by a bigger club this season, and there is no reason Manchester United shouldn’t be at the front of that cue.

3.Adrien Rabiot

Age 23
Club PSG
Contract Ends 2019
Height 6’ 3”



A talented but somewhat inconsistent midfielder, Frenchman Adrien Rabiot has had a mixed season for PSG. Standing at 6 foot 3, his physicality combined with his technical ability make him a uniquely talented player. His passing, creativity and physicality are all things that Manchester United could benefit from if he were to sign. His contract is up in a years time, so he could be signed for a cheap price in Manchester United act fast enough. As previously mentioned, PSG will be looking to offload players to balance their massive spending of the last few season. While he has struggled for consistency and would be a risk, Rabiot is a player who under the right guidance, could be a great signing for the Red Devils.

 

2.Max Meyer

Age 22
Club FC Schalke 04
Contract Ends 2018
Height 5’ 8”

FC Schalke have had a terrific season in the Bundesliga, finishing second to Bayern Munich and ahead of Borussia Dortmund. At the heart of this campaign has been Max Meyer. He’s creative, skillful and above all, has played for a team that plays similar to Manchester United in some aspects. Schalke defend deep and do not rely on pressing, and try to counter attack often. With a similar defending style at United, Meyer could quite easily adapt to Mourinho’s system and help the team become better on the break. His contract ends this summer, meaning any club could sign him for free. He has been heavily linked to Liverpool, but Manchester United should not sleep on this hot German prospect. 

1.James Rodriguez

 

Age 26
Club FC Bayern Munich (Loan from Real Madrid)
Contract Ends 2019 (Loan)
Height 5’ 11”

James Rodriguez would be an unbelievable midfield signing for various reasons. He’s a huge brand worldwide, and would be the perfect player to acquire the number 10 shirt. He’s also a player who doesn’t need much development, and could come straight into the team and make an impact. He’s a leader, not the same kind of leader as Roy Keane, but someone who has passion and leads by example. But above all that, his attributes as a player make him one of the best midfielders in the world. He can play in a midfield two, a midfield three or as an attacking midfielder. His passing range, decision making, vision, skill and crossing make him one of the most complete midfielders in Europe. Additionally, Rodriguez’s dead-ball delivery is exceptional, and with the amount of height we have in our team, he could unlock a whole new dimension to Manchester United’s attack. While he is still on loan at Bayern, the club are still unsure whether to keep him or not. And if Manchester United act quickly, we could have a player that could have a tremendous impact on our title challenge next season.

 

By: Vishnu Anandraj

 

How Manchester United Could Lineup Next Season

Manchester United have undoubtedly had a perplexing season. Jose Mourinho has factually made progression, but has failed to play attractive football and pose a title challenge to Manchester City. These problems come from a lack of identity in the way Manchester United play. Heading into next season, it is vital Manchester United develop a set formation and a set way of playing.

Throughout the season, Jose Mourinho has mainly employed two different formations: the 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1, although he has experimented with variants of a 3-4-1-2. Here we see the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-3-3.

 

Consistency in performance level and the quality of football have been lacking with these two formations. This stems from a multitude of different issues.

For one, this both these systems use very little width. Mata, Sanchez and Lingard are all wingers who like to cut inside, playing in central areas regardless of where they start.

Martial and Rashford have started periodically throughout the season, but neither provide natural sources of width on the left and their strengths do not necessarily lie in their ability to cross the ball.

Moreover, our full backs are aged ex-wingers who are on the decline and need to be replaced.

Another problem with both systems is how our two best outfield players, Pogba and Sanchez, constantly get in each other’s way on the left side of the pitch. With Sanchez showing a lack of discipline on the left hand side, Pogba is forced to go deep or go wide in order to make an impact.

Therefore, it’s crucial that we implement a system that can get the best out of Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez while also providing us width.

If we analyze the history of Jose Mourinho, he has predominantly used two formations in is career. He used a 4-2-3-1, which we have already seen at Manchester United, and a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield.

This is the formation that Mourinho used to conquer Europe with Porto, dominate England with Chelsea in his first tenure and with the treble with Inter. While he is an incredibly adaptable manager and used formations such as the 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1 at times, his staple was this 4-4-2 diamond.

In this picture, three changes have been made to the starting eleven: Andreas Pereira in midfield, Alex Sandro at left back and Timothy Fosu-Mensah at right back.

This formation, while not currently used in the Premier League, could give Manchester United several advantages.

One, it enables Pogba to play on the left side of a midfield three, giving him licence to make runs forward.

It also enables Sanchez to play centrally, the position most United fans think he should play.

Moreover, Martial and Rashford can play in their preferred position: as a central forward.

However, the one glaring problem with this formation is that is uses minimal width.

And with so many players who are good in the air; Lukaku, Rashford and Pogba to name a few, width and natural crosses are crucial and could unlock a whole new dimension to Manchester United’s attack.

 

 

 

But upon further analysis, we can see how this system can provide Manchester United with the width it needs.

In this picture, we can see how United can attack in possession using the 4-4-2 diamond.

With Lukaku leading the line and occupying the center backs, Martial can drift into the wide and half spaces on the left.

Sanchez can play more centrally and Pogba plays more advanced, and most importantly, Sandro can bomb forward and give us natural width on the left.

However, this causes an imbalance, as the attack is mainly focused on the left.

Therefore, Andreas Pereira will have to perform an unorthodox role in this system, occupying the wide spaces on the right when starting in midfield.

While this could be a midfield signing who can cross, such as Toni Kroos, the important thing is having some source of natural width on the right.

Fosu Mensah or an aged Antonio Valencia playing at right back is not a good source of width, and therefore, a midfielder needs to provide with in this system.

 

 

In addition, Nemanja Matic and Fosu Mensah will perform a crucial role in this system. With Sandro bursting forwards, teams can break fast through the expose left side. This would cause Matic to play more towards the left.

This leaves no players in the center circle area, leaving United somewhat exposed.

This poses a possible problem for this system, but, Fosu Mensah and Antonio Valencia are capable of playing as a defensive midfielder and could easily step into the midfield.

While the addition of Sandro and a midfielder to the lineup would aid in United’s success, the investment in a right back who can go forward could be the solution to United’s problems.

In this scenario, Herrera would play the same role as Matic, covering his full back while still remaining somewhat central.

With two sources of natural width in Sandro and Meunier, this system can be the answer for Manchester United’s identity crisis.

We can get the best out of our top class players while making use of the height of our team with two players who can cross the ball.

Additionally, signings such as Milinkovic Savic and Fabinho could easily be implemented in this system.

Other players in the squad like Lingard, Mata and Mctominay could also be used in this system quite easily.

This formation would take time to implement, as it is quite technical and the players are probably not used to it.

We would also need to invest in another central forward, which we are currently not linked with.

It’s also entirely possible that Mourinho will not believe this can work in the modern Premier League and will stick with a 4-3-3, which could work very well.

But judging from Mourinho’s past and the players we have at United, don’t be surprised if this is the system Mourinho uses to lead Manchester United to a Premier League title.

 

By: Vishnu Anandraj