Manchester United have started the season with a lot of rather mixed results, failing to win at home in the league which has stretched to four games.
At times United seem to be on the right path, in the past month they’ve defeated PSG, Leipzig and Newcastle, but at the same time, they managed to lose woefully to Tottenham, and lose by a goal to Arsenal, with both games at home. This brings the question of, what exactly is the problem?
Ole doesn’t seem to know his tactics yet, at least not from the way United play at the moment. It is obviously a work in progress but other teams are beginning to show an evident style, like Arsenal under Mikel Arteta, likewise with Spurs under Jose Mourinho – similarly Nuno’s Wolves, Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester, Everton with Carlo Ancelotti, and arguably even Southampton with Ralph Hasenhüttl – but with United, there is no Solskjaer way of playing.
The biggest headache comes from the midfield, with six players vying for three or four positions. Bruno Fernandes has one of those roles held down, and behind him Fred, Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and Van de Beek are out hoping they are up the pecking order.
Most matches, coaches bring on forwards when looking for goals, and a defender when trying to protect a lead. But for United, it’s usually two midfielders coming off the bench, as shown in the Arsenal game.
In United’s six league matches so far this season, 12 midfielders have been substituted on. For context, Liverpool have brought on nine midfielders in seven league matches, five being James Milner. Chelsea are five midfielders in seven matches, while Manchester City are seven in six. United are making two midfield substitutions per match, being a place that ensures stability, United would need to find a solution to this problem.
It’s clear United have top players, but the problem is finding a way for them to play together while ensuring there’s harmony. If Ole wants United to be at the top and get consistent performances, he must settle the midfield as soon as possible.
By Muyiwa aguda