Well, if you thought last season was a mess from a Manchester United perspective, this summer its becoming a even bigger farce.
Not enough transfer activity (In or Out), Pogba’s Asia Tour where he’s declared he wants a fresh challenge, and Lingard’s escapades on holiday this week, its been a horrible start to the summer.
With what Ole has to work with right now, along with what I consider to be realistic possible United transfers (one’s that we’ve hard about so far anyway), I’m going to attempt to predict the United team for the new season, and the options Solskjaer has in each position..
So, here’s the team I’d go with:
This could be an interesting one. David De Gea would be the obvious choice for number one, even with his terrible end to last season, he’s saved them so many times over the last 4/5 seasons his status in United’s team shouldn’t even be called in to question.
But, with Buffon leaving PSG this summer, you have to wonder if the French Champions will coming knocking. With no Champions League football at Old Trafford, and all the negativity surrounding the side at the end of last season, there probably wouldn’t be a better time to leave, and who would blame him.
If he was to leave, United would have good options with Sergio Romero who’s never let them down as a second choice so far. Dean Henderson would also be a good option, England’s U21 Goalkeeper for this Summer’s European U21 Championships, and part of Sheffield United’s promotion winning side last season.
Maybe slightly premature, but I’ve gone with Aaron Wan-Bissaka at right-back. Although these are only rumors at the moment, there seems to be a strong possibility the Crystal Palace man will end up at Old Trafford.
It seems as it the fee will be around the £50m mark, which seems very expensive for a player with only one season of Premier League experience, but you have to consider that he’s only 21, accompanied with the fact clubs know United are desperate, plus he’s English which tends to add a extra 25% to any Englishman these days.
Deigo Dalot had a reasonable first season for a youngster at the club last time out as well, so he will be a very good backup option too. I’d be surprised if Matteo Darmian was still at the club come the end of the Summer window.
It will be a huge disappointment for United fans that it doesn’t seem they are going to land the Centre-Back they so desperately need. Links with Harry Maguire seem to have gone quiet, with interest in West Ham’s Issa Diop being more heavily rumored this week. But unfortunately, I think it maybe a case of United having to stick with what they have this season.
United were at their best last season when Chirs Smalling partnered Victor Lindelof, so I’d be surprised if Solskjaer went with anything else. The Swede Lindelof rapidly improved last season, and will be a certain starter next season.
The other Centre-Back spot will be up for debate, with Smalling and Eric Baily fighting it out for that place, I just think Smalling may win that race due to experience. Phil Jones is another option, but don’t think him or Smalling are the most popular with United fans. Similar to Darmian, I’d be surprised if Marcos Rojo was still a United player come the end of the window.
This one is pretty cut and dry, I don’t think they’ll be too much doubt that Luke Shaw will be the left back for next season. Despite a poor final few games, for me he was the Red Devil’s player of the season last year, certainly the most consistent. Even though many will consider him “the best of a bad bunch”.
Ashley Young provides a backup option in that position, who again wasn’t the most popular among the Old Trafford faithful at the back end of last season.
Again, its an area that United really needed to improve which hasn’t come to any fruition so far this window, and with Paul Pogba announcing he’d like to try something new on his “Tour of Asia”, some may argue this is United’s most problematic area after the departure of Ander Herrera. Bruno Fernandes and Adrien Rabiot have both been linked with United, but neither anything more than backpaper headlines so far.
The Defensive Midfielders of Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay are at opposite ends of their careers. McTominay is young, inexperienced, but had a great end to last season, where as the highly experienced Matic looked leggy, slow, and as if last season was maybe one too many for him.
At the moment Brazilians Fred and Andreas Pereira are the only two backup options, which I’m sure is definitely a concern for Solskjaer. Fred really struggled in his first season at the club, and I think its fair to say certainly wasn’t Solskjaer’s cup of tea. Where Pereira is young, but looked promising during games last season, definitely worth keeping around the squad in my opinion.
Moving on to the headliner, Paul Pogba. As he did last summer after the World Cup, he seems to be trying to force a move elsewhere, which will no doubt infuriate the United fans even more. In terms of stats, Pogba was outstanding last year, and even made it in to the Premier League Team of the Season.
However United fans will know only too well that he can be a “Jekyll and Hyde” type player, meaning he’s either the best, or the worst on the pitch. After his altercation with fans after the final day of the season defeat to Cardiff at Old Trafford, I felt it was inevitable he’d try and move on this summer, and so it’s been proved.
Personally, I think Pogba will leave, and I’d try to sell him for anywhere between £100-£125m, as having him in the squad would be toxic to the others if he wants out. We saw it under Mourinho, how stubborn and egotistical he can be, so if the deal was to be done early, Ole and the club can look to replace him in good time.
Juan Mata will be the ready made replacement after signing a new contract with the club, but I’d be strengthen with another creative midfielder. Someone like James Maddison from Leicester would be great in my opinion, but only time will tell how the club handle the Pogba dilemma.
I suppose this is a position which Solskjaer will feel he can work with, but there a wide spread variety of problems with each of them individually, it will be interesting to see if he can get tune from any of them.
Lets start with the right hand side, and Jesse Lingard. After his recent Social Media video mess, Solskjaer or someone within the club really needs to sit him down and get him to concentrate on his football again. Stop with the Instagram and Snapchat stuff for a bit, and rediscover some of the form we saw from him during the 17/18 season. After a good World Cup last summer, its gone under the radar how much of a flop Lingard was last season, a lot more was expected of him.
He’ll likely face competition from United’s only new signing so far this summer, Daniel James. A lot is thought of James, who is versatile and can play down either side, but I’d predict he’ll be a impact player rather than a starter. But who knows if he comes in and makes an immediate impact then there has never been an easier time to cement a position in a United side.
Down the left, I’d expect to see Martial starting. But similar to Lingard, someone really needs to have a word with him to sort his attitude out. On too many occasions towards the back end of the season, he appeared lazy and sulky, the same sort of traits we saw under Mourinho and assumed were caused by his man management. He could be a huge impact for United, IF someone gets his mind right.
Alexis who is another option down the left brings a totally different problem. Looked lost during most of last season, heavy touches, sloppy in possession, arguably one of the biggest flops even by United’s standards in recent years. I originally thought the club might try and loan/sell him on the cheap this summer, but I guess that’s easier said then done. I doubt it, but maybe Solskjaer can help to turn his fortunes around next season.
If you believe the papers, then you’d be forgiven for thinking that Romelu Lukaku looks set for Inter Milan just 2 seasons after his £75m move from Eveton. I’m personally a fan of Lukaku, a great poacher if given the right service I’m not sure its a good idea to hold anyone at the club against their will, so I’m assuming he won’t be with United come August.
Marcus Rashford will be the obvious choice upfront at the moment. Rashford started brilliantly when Solskjaer first was appointed, but as did many of the squad faded out as the season went on. Ole will be hoping he can rediscover the goalscoring form Rashford was showing during Decemeber, January & February last season.
Unless United can get Mauro Icardi from Inter Milan as part of the Lukaku deal, its unlikely United will bring in another forward. Mason Greenwood came in to the side during the back end of the season, and looked sharp. A good young player with a high reputation. It would be good to see him introduced to provide Rashford with some much needed backup, and playing on Thursday’s/Sunday’s will certainly take its toll on the squad.