3 things Manchester United have to work on before their match against Southampton this weekend in the Premier League.
Manchester United have now dropped points against Wolverhampton and Crystal after their opening euphoric victory against Chelsea. In a league as competitive as the Premier league, the Red Devils cannot afford to drop points against mid-table teams with tougher opponents still waiting.
United seemed set to win the match against the Wolves. However, a Paul Pogba penalty miss meant that United came back with a solitary point to show. Many hoped that the match against the Eagles at Old Trafford would see them pick up from where they left against Chelsea. Instead it was United who were left embarrassed at the end of 90 minutes.
Manchester United have gained the reputation of being poor travellers in recent times and have an opportunity to change that with their visit to the St. Mary’s stadium. However, in order to so, there are 3 things that Manchester United will have to work on before their match against Southampton this weekend.
United’s inability to get behind opposition defence
As was mentioned earlier, in the Premier League, it is very important to pick points from the mid-table teams. With the competition for the top 4 much more intense than it was a decade back, United simply cannot afford to lose valuable points when tougher opponents lie ahead.
However, United have a tendency of late to drop points against teams they look certain to beat. One reason for that is the opposition’s defence playing very deep. For instance, in the match against Crystal palace, Manchester United had the ball in their possession for 72% of the match. The Red Devils could find the target only 3 times out of 22 attempts though.
The only way to combat this is to have clarity in their game. There’s not much use for pace when you have no idea what to do with it. A lot of their passes in the final third were intercepted against Crystal Palace, proving that United were undone by the pressure mounted on them and completely stopped thinking. Solskjaer will need to teach his boys the virtue of patience and creativity to help them improve their finishing.
Time for De Gea and Harry Maguire to step up
David De Gea desires to be the highest paid goalkeeper in the world and Harry Maguire is the most expensive defender in the world. It is time for both to play in a manner that reflects the money associated with them.
Both De Gea and Maguire were amazing against Chelsea with Maguire being named the man of the match. They both have however, looked bang average at the back ever since. Not every defender and keeper have to be like Virgil Van Dijk and Alison. That isn’t what the fans are asking of them. Responsibility! That is the demand. Being two of the senior most players in the side, the Duo need to lead by example.
Also, Luke Shaw needs to curb his attacking instincts a little. The fullback has the tendency to run ahead; leaving too much space for Maguire to cover many a times. United had their fans convinced that they had fixed their back line. But with 3 goals conceded in the last 2 matches, it is safe to say that the concerns are far from over.
If United are to challenge for the top 4 spot and find their way back to the Champions League, it is imperative that their backline get their act together.
Lack of creativity at the front
It is pleasing to see a manager backing his players. However, he needs to know when a player is woefully out of form and send him to the back so he can earn his place once again. Lingard looks like he knows he has Solskjaer’s supports and that has made him a tad bit comfortable in the side.
Perhaps United could bring in Juan Mata at the no.10 spot. His slowing pace though may be a cause of concern against stronger opponents. They could also consider bringing Pereira back and if all fails perhaps, they could try pushing Paul Pogba up.
The French midfielder has proven to be the most creative out of the Boys in Red so far and could prove to be the difference at the no.10 role. However, that would come with its own set of problems. With United’s failure to invest in their midfield over the summer, they are very thin in the middle of the park.
Should Pogba take Lingard’s place, he may be replaced by Matic in the mid-field. The Serb is still an effective player to have in any side. However, United will sorely miss Pogba’s ability to find space and create opportunities in the middle which, as good as Matic is, will not come from the Serb regularly.
One way to counter this is by playing 4-3-3. This way Pogba can still play in the midfield with Matic playing just behind him. Thereby allowing Pogba to make runs ahead if and when needed with freedom, knowing that Matic will hold guard just behind him.
Click here for more football news