Wrong to the compare Chelsea and MUFC youth

Chelsea will start as favourites in the League Cup fourth round match on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge on back of seven consecutive victories. They had a better squad when Frank Lampard took over amid the transfer ban and ushered in the youth players who had been winning the FA Youth Cup for 6 of last 7 years, having them loaned out to other clubs in between to continue their development.

Its a complete contrast to what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer inherited at Manchester United. Top players not willing to come to MUFC after Sir Alex Ferguson retired, players bought under four different managers with differing styles, two clear outs by Louis van Gaal and Solskjaer that made the squad thin, failure to win the FA Youth Cup since 2011, reserves team suffered relegation, many potential youth players being snapped up by other clubs, dressing room in disarray, players wanting out, players biding their time not playing, many long term injuries,... in short a complete mess. Neither the management had a recruitment team like Chelsea that brought players with a clear philosophy irrespective of who was the manager. That meant a life-long MUFC fan Christian Pulisic joining the blues of Chelsea having been on their radar and not of the Reds of Manchester.

Credit to Solskjaer to have started with a clear out and uniting the dressing room by promoting the youth with Marcus Rashford the torch bearer at a tender age of just 21 with 50 goals already. That's also putting pressure on them quite early. Mason Greenwood, Tahit Chong, Angel Gomes, Axel Tuanzebe, Brandon Williams and James Garner are still very young compared to the Chelsea counterparts in their first team by about 2 to 4 years and without being loaned out nor having experienced playing every week. At that age the difference is massive to learn the nuances of the game, to recover from a game or injury, adjust to the pace, adapt to travel across Europe, have more than one pre-season training to prepare for a grueling schedule. Tammy Abraham is older than Marcus Rashford let alone Mason Greenwood with whom he is compared with wrongly & by 4 years.

MUFC being synonymous with Busby Babes by winning six straight FA Youth Cup's from its inception and later Sir Alex Ferguson reviving it with Eric Harrison which is a policy that many have tried to emulate since. Only Chelsea have matched the Busby Babes record for winning six straight FA Youth Cups and incidentally last year MUFC stopped them by beating in the 3rd round itself thereby protecting the Busby Babes record. MUFC last won the FA Youth Cup in 2011 with Paul Pogba, Ravel Morrison, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Jesse Lingard, Keane brothers and since then have struggled year after year. Last time MUFC went past the 5th round of FA Youth Cup was in 2012 in a semi-final loss to eventual winners guess who, Chelsea! That's clearly a big gulf between the two youth setup's however reputed MUFC youth team were once upon a time.

Chelsea have over the last five years been loaning out its players to teams across the continent and can count a dozen goal keepers on its books. That's a very large pool of players for each position in the team that the coaching staff can choose to bring into the first team. MUFC can hope for only two loaned out players Dean Henderson at Sheffield United and Aidan Barlow at Tromso to break into the first team. Frank Lampard being the Chelsea legend is making good on the last accusation of his club i.e., not integrating the youth in the first team although forced by the transfer ban to groom Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, Recce James, et al. Chelsea not only won the FA Youth Cup's but did so by thumping their opponents Manchester City and Arsenal by scores like 6-1 or 4-2 such has been their dominance. Jody Morris who coached most of these players has returned as assistant to Frank Lampard.

Solskjaer was a reserve team coach when Paul Pogba was groomed before joining Juventus. Ricky Sbragia was brought back and sacked, Warren Joyce left to join Salford City in July this year and replaced by team of Neil Wood and Quinton Fortune. Finally Nicky Butt has vacated his role as academy director to be replaced by Nick Cox from Sheffield who moves up from being academy operations manager. With the focus on hiring young British talent Solskjaer will look to Nicky Butt as head of first team development to provide them coaching as the Norwegian will have limited time as Manager. Cup competition is by no means the only yardstick to gauge the success of youth players but not getting beyond the 5th round since 2012 is a huge failure on both scouting system and development. Here's hoping Nick Cox to turn things around.

Manchester United Junior Athletic Club formed in 1937 was a brain child of the then club chairman James W Gibson to make MUFC competitive in economic depression when he saved them from the brink and were unable to fund any transfers. James Gibson secured the acquisition of the Cliff training ground, persuaded Midland Railway operating Manchester Central to London St Pancras trains to stop at Old Trafford on match days to increase gate receipts and MUJAC helped in discovering players from Charlie Mitten to Marcus Rashford. MUFC can count on at least one player from the academy in their first team on a match day squad since then which is 3,989 games over 81 years!! No wonder MUFC top the rankings of promoting academy players to first team. Chelsea under Lampard are all set to catch up.

Solskjaer finally has alternatives to secure crucial away wins

The draw against Liverpool was perhaps the best performance of Manchester United so far but did little to lift them from the bottom half of the table in 14th position. Ole got his first away victory after beating PSG in early March that ends an unwanted record but the away victory is still elusive in the Premier League with Norwich the opponents this Sunday. MUFC with a thread bare squad haven't won the away game after their continental travels this season.

Ole understands he needs to win when specifically put on the spot by Geoeff Shreeves after that horrible defeat in the last game at Newcastle. Ole hasn't got the balance right with getting results and driving changes simultaneously which prompted many pundits to label him as 'out of his depth' at managing a giant football club like Manchester United. Norwich who upset the champions City relish the games against high profile teams.

Ole managed to win away at Partizan Belgrade by handing European debuts to James Garner, Brandon Williams and Harry Maguire who captained the side. He has David de Gea, Victor Lindelof and Fred rested for the challenge at Carrow Road, while Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic were sent to follow Paul Pogba for quick recovery in Dubai. Ole has finally settled on three at the back and abandoned 4-2-3-1 which he persisted with despite not having the personnel from the start of the season. Having sorted out the defense not by analysis but forced by bad results, how soon can Ole bring his highly understaffed midfield to control the game and create chances?

Ole has been blocking all questions about Pogba's return when asked by the press. Is it aimed at not exposing his team in advance to the opposition or has he genuinely lost the faith of the Frenchman after making him play through injury against Rochdale AFC from third tier of English football in the League Cup third round? Defeat at Newcastle brought the worst out of MUFC in terms of creativity and through ball from the midfield of Brazilian Fred and industrious Scott McTominay. Paul Pogba can change that especially if he plays at No 10 where Juan Mata failed miserably at St James' Park. The frantic display at Belgrade can be healed by the natural composure of Pobga's game, who would like to salvage his career prospects urgently.

Hope Angel Gomes and Tahit Chong get another chance to display their potential. Gomes has many disadvantages like Paul Scholes did in his initial days when Nicky Butt stroll a march on him in terms of progress from the academy i.e., better coverage of midfield due to greater height. Gomes did have a good far east pre-season tour. Gomes play ideal for No 10 role in absence of Pogba.

Another positive from the Partizan game was Ole's use of substitutes with a double change of Rashford and James around the 60th minute to try for the second goal. It's probably the first time Ole Gunnar Solskjaer been praised for game management since made permanent manager.  With Nemanja Matic injured amid speculation of negotiating his summer move from January is rife the alternatives to Scott McTominay is of urgent need to manage his game time to help him recover from back-to-back games at his young age. Axel Tuanzebe can be the option given the street smart nature of his play which makes him adaptable to multiple positions - a rare attribute so crucial to team sport. Rojo has regained his mojo which made him favourite with few fans with his fearless tackles and can partner Maguire and Lindelof freeing up Tuanzebe.

Not scoring from free-kicks in opportunistic positions has been a lacunae that has afflicted this team to score that all important 2nd goal. Nor Maguire and McTominay missing headers when left unmarked in recent games. This is surprising given how Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would line up at the near and far post to attack a corner especially in the Treble winning season. Nor have they retained Marouane Fellaini nor replaced the Belgian giant. Ashley Young has lost the zip on his crosses with age so has Juan Mata with free-kicks, retirement overdue to both whose best years are behind them yet give their best when called upon. Roberto Carlos at Real Madrid and David Beckham at MUFC ushered in the term 'dead ball specialist' that inspired Cristiano Ronaldo and MUFC can think of no one as automatic choice to take free-kick now let alone be specialist of any sort! Andreas Pereira has made a start and needs time which if team is not winning creates the added stress which can hamper the development.

Wait for the 2000th Premier League goal for MUFC might be over this weekend as Norwich do not sit back which will enable the Reds to run at them with James, Rashford and Martial increasing the chances of earning a penalty. MUFC look likely to score two goals which if the defense holds can finally get them the elusive away victory or emboldened Norwich with a prospect of a huge upset might turn the tables for not just MUFC but Ole's reign itself. Poised for a dramatic contest either way, while a score draw might seem more plausible.

PS: Meanwhile MUFC lose their prolific U18 striker Mipo Odubeko to West Ham academy.

Belgrade evokes the toughest of MUFC memories

We'll meet again,
Don't know where, don't know when,
But we know we'll meet again
some sunny day...

So Roger Byrne led his team mates to sing when the waiters brought sweat meats to end the meal at a banquet in Majestic Hotel, Belgrade. MUFC beat Red Star Belgrade 5-4 on aggregate in the 1958 European Cup quarter-finals and drew 3-3 in Belgrade on their last match on 5th February before heading for fateful refueling stop at Munich. That last match was played at the present Partizan stadium due to lack of floodlights at the old Avala which was rebuilt in 1963 into a new Red Star stadium later renamed in 2014 to honour club legend Rajko Mitic.

Cruelty of English Football Association was exposed when they snatched Sir Bobby Charlton for a friendly against Portugal while MUFC ravaged by Munich disaster played AC Milan in the semi-finals. Charlton was absent for the 2nd leg as he was picked by the FA to play Yugoslavia and in Belgrade! Sir Bobby Charlton was selected for 1958 World Cup with England having lost Roger Byrne, Tommy Taylor and Duncan Edwards at Munich, but was never played!! Pele was 3 years younger to Charlton at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden where he burst on the scene!!!

MUFC came up against Partizan Belgrade in the 1966 semi-finals of the European Cup and lost 1-2 on aggregate. Partizan showed tremendous resistance true to their name to hold on to their 2-0 win at home with 0-1 loss at Old Trafford. George Best had his delayed cartilage operation immediately after the match. Losing this opportunity to win the European Cup Sir Matt Busby called it "my lowest ebb since Munich." MUFC finished fourth that season and out of European competition hence concentrated solely on winning back the league in 1967 to be in Europe for one last attempt at scaling the European peak to avenge the loss of Babes at Munich, and yes they did it in 1968.

MUFC won their second European trophy the Cup Winners Cup in 1991 by beating Barcelona and faced Red Star Belgrade the winners of European Cup in the curtain raiser of the European campaign the Super Cup. This two legged tie was reduced to a single leg at Old Trafford due to civil war in Yugoslavia. Brian McClair scored the only goal in an MUFC win.

Serbian Nemanja Matic will miss this tie with an injury. He refused to wear Remembrance poppy for a Premier League match against AFC Bournemouth in 2018 as NATO had bombed his native village Vrelo in 1999.

Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe and Paul Pogba are the other main absentees. Tonight's Europa League tie away at Partizan is probably the toughest of the group. Victory today might clinch qualification with home games coming up next. Injury hit MUFC have taken academy players Ethan Laird, Brandon Williams, James Garner and goalie Matej Kovar. Jesse Lingard is back while David de Gea is being rested for the crucial fixture at Norwich.

Harry Maguire will make his European debut for MUFC after having missed the AZ Alkamaar game and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might again opt for three at the back with either of Lindelof, Rojo and Jones. Scott McTominay might have to put another shift in with Fred and Pereira after they out ran Liverpool midfield last Sunday due to thread bare squad. All eyes will be on James Garner who has been in great form for the reserves scoring five times from midfield and the amount of game time he gets based on the context of the match. Jesse Lingard will be able to provide much needed rest for Daniel James who can come on as a substitute if MUFC need to get cracking, while Mason Greenwood might cover for Marcus Rashford with Anthony Martial set to start.

Right time to push Ed Woodward for Jimmy Murphy stand

In an unusual development Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward has given an interview and chosen a sensible, long running fanzine in United We Stand whose editor is the well known Andy Mitten. It appears as a first in a two part series of interview where wide-ranging topics about MUFC will be openly discussed. Here is a link to Simon Stone's analysis for the BBC. Clearly the commercial arm of MUFC has grown from 28% to 48% of total revenue under the Glazers but unless broadcasting rights do not improve by participating in the Champions' League the club might have just reached a plateau necessitating the urgent need to get back into top 4 for which they might have to invest in players even in January.

Yesterday 22nd, October marked the anniversary of Sir Matt Busby signing on the contract with MUFC in 1945 and the club announced it has added the original contract to be displayed at the MUFC Museum while it was purchased from a private buyer in May, 2018. Such moves about preserving the rich heritage of our club certainly bodes well with the fans. Sir Matt Busby transformed the war damaged Old Trafford stadium and built a philosophy of football against which players and managers of every era shall be forever measured against. As Sir Alex Ferguson put it “I’m privileged to have followed Sir Matt Busby because all you have to do is to try and maintain the standards that he set so many years ago."

There appears to be an initiative to reach out to the media, ease the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and reduce the impact of #GlazersOut movement. Ed Woodward is trying to front up by answering questions while trying to become the face of MUFC in an event of potential takeover that is never out of news.

One of the key long standing demands to award knighthood to Harry Gregg who saved so many lives on that fatal day 06, February 1958 at Munich was partly realized when in June, 2019 he was conferred with an OBE. While this was definitely late in coming and out of MUFC control, another demand of dedicating the K-Stand on Jimmy Murphy the first signing of Sir Matt Busby to become his assistant from '45 till '71 who kept the club going on the football field despite the Munich tragedy deserves a more fitting tribute than just a memorial in the Munich room of the Museum, a media center at Carrington or MUFC Young Player of the Year award being named after him.

Renaming the Scoreboard end or East Stand will not diminish the fans favourite Stretford End where MUFC usually end their 2nd half attacking the visiting teams. Solskjaer led MUFC to top 4 after beating Southampton 3-2 with a late winner by Romelu Lukaku and said "I have been part of so many games like this, towards the Stretford End in the second half. That Stretford End will always suck a ball into the net for you. That is the best place to score a winner." Wikipedia is split with K-stand fans moving to both top tier of Stretford End and on to Scoreboard End. Plaque dedicated to victims of Munich is also at south end of the East Stand. Renaming Scoreboard End will complete the quartet - others being Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, and Stretford End.

Steve Donoghue has the petition on change.org already set up while Brian Mulholand's is at thepetitionsite. The petition for Harry Gregg is rightly closed after receiving more than 14,000 signatories while this petition at change.org for Jimmy Murphy is just at 1,093. Better to have a single petition at change.org which is widely recognized while Brian has more updates. Requesting fans of MUFC esp the Busby Babes to help secure more signatures. Hoping Andy Mitten might ask Ed Woodward about it and publish the response in next months edition of UWS. Old Trafford's development has been rightly chosen as a question which is indeed good.

Wish Ole did a Shankly about Managerial contract

60 years ago in the 1959-60 season this fixture #MUNLIV did not happen in the league as Liverpool FC were in the old 2nd division and legendary Bill Shankly had just taken over as their manager on 14-Dec-1959 after another tepid start to the season seeking promotion to the old 1st division. Shankly replaced Phil Taylor an ex-Captain of 1950 FA Cup final fame who succeeded Sir Matt Busby the player for LFC between 1936-39 at right half.

Manchester United did meet Liverpool in the FA Cup 4th round, Jan 1960 in the first of 16 meetings between Busby and Shankly. MUFC beat LFC 3-1 away at Anfield in which the maestro Sir Bobby Charlton regained his form after a barren spell to score two expertly taken goals as England coach the ex-MUFC player Walter Winterbottom watched. Bill Shankly later said "It was our misfortune that Bobby hit his real form against us."

It was Bill Shankly who called Sir Matt Busby as "without doubt the greatest manager that ever lived." such was the respect among the two Scottish rivals. In the last season of Shankly 1973-74 MUFC were relegated and tables turned but Busby had been retired for four years.

Shankly had earlier managed Sir Denis Law at Huddersfield Town still in his teens "I'm sure that had I not had Shankly around at that stage of my career, things might have turned out differently." He accepted Ray Wood at Leeds Road in 1958 the goal keeper of the famous Busby Babes team that won two league title's in '56, '57 and an loss in FA Cup final of '57, calling him "the best goal keeper in the second division". Shankly who preferred to 'make stars rather than buy them' enabled Huddersfield Town to become debt free. 1964 saw the only direct player transfer between MUFC and LFC that of 22 year old inside-right Phil Chisnall for #25,000. Later after quitting as manager of LFC, Shankly confirmed to Tommy Docherty the potential of Steve Coppell when Jimmy Murphy had initially scouted him.

In the hindsight given how well Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started as an interim manager, wished he said the following lines from Shankly "Never mind about a contract; give me the team and leave the rest to me." Hope this match is the turning point of the season for MUFC and Ole.

LFC seek the Shankly magic after 60 years to end the 30 year wait to finally win the League, while MUFC would want to once again thwart LFC as they did last season with a battling performance.

Pivotal game against arch rivals amid the shadows of 73-74 relegation

Fans and media must keep the pressure on Ed Woodward esp since Oliver Holt's article in the Daily Mail which hit the nail on its head. There are parallels with end of Busby and Ferguson illustrious trophy laden reign - towards the end the investment in the squad dried up which meant they did not replace their key players like Herd, Foulkes, Stiles, Charlton, Law from 1967 on wards and Keane, Ronaldo, Neville, Giggs, Vidic, Ferdinand from 2005 on wards. In 1974 MUFC hurtled downwards to relegation with a very decent defense in Buchan and Holton but without any prolific striker, a situation very similar now. Is the MUFC team now too good to go down? This accentuates the urgent need for MUFC to buy a proven striker in January.

Ed Woodward has come out with his justifications on wasting most of #850 million dollars under his watch and how can any sane MUFC fan believe him. What worries fans further is that this 6 years & #850 million mess is not the benchmark to rectify other areas like youth policy where they are well behind most of their rivals. He has however backed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ahead of the most crucial fixture in our calendar but has it come a week early? Does Ed believe that MUFC will get anything out of this game?

MUFC have in the past ended Arsenal's 49 game unbeaten run that stopped the invincible's in the famous 'Battle of Buffet' and now despite being in bad form, crucial players in Paul Pogba and David de Gea injured and the squad being low on confidence, given the nature of this fixture between the two most successful English football clubs they can stop LFC's run of 17 game winning streak. Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay and Axel Tuanzebe being the academy lads will be crucial to channel their high emotions into decent performances belying their age given the thread bare squad. While the wide area's at full back need to counter LFC surge and Ole might play a three man defense to release Dalot and Young while another exciting prospect at left back Brandon Williams might get some game time.

Huge credit to Marcus Rashford for carrying on despite his lack of form and non-coherent midfield where he does not know where the through ball is going to come from. Yet he has backed himself for the cause of the team and being on the pitch. Having aspirations to be central striker is not bad which means he is prepared to work to make it happen despite being found out a few times or missing a few runs. Marcus Rashford is of the same age as Tammy Abraham and already with 36 caps for his country while Mason Greenwood a good four years younger. One of the traits of players like Cristiano Ronaldo who reached 700 career goals is how they personally look after themselves and avoid injury in spite of  training regimes at club and country. Rashford has at least kept himself in the reckoning for a start always where as Anthony Martial who finally gets his chance at being the No 9 is returning from injury. Martial though has still scored a third of MUFC goals this season and hoping the Frenchmen adds to his tally against LFC to cement his favourite position #AM9.

On paper and form its a 0-3 defeat and anything better especially team coherence and fighting quality with a plan from Ole will take it as a positive sign. 1973-74 season after 8 games 10 points(3W, 4L, 1D - 8GS 10GC) and in 2019-20 season after 8 games 9 points (2W, 3L, 3D - 9GS 8GC) a serious cause for worry. Coincidentally the 9th game of 1973-74 season was against Liverpool at Old Trafford which ended in a 0-0 stalemate, even a similar result in 2019-20 might not be good enough in the eventual league standings at the end of the season.

As for LFC it will be crucial to not only win but do the double over their arch rivals MUFC similar to 1963-64 season that setup them up for a first League Championship win after 1946-47 and not mind the margin of victory. In hindsight Klopp might seek to improve the performance at Old Trafford where they dropped two points last season while at the end they lost the league title by only one point to MCFC. Old Trafford is the last summit LFC need to conquer to avoid complacency of last season and lay down the fears of a meltdown that accompanied Arsene Wenger's Arsenal after the 49 game unbeaten streak was ended by MUFC.

Happy 82nd birthday to the ultimate English sporting legend Sir Bobby Charlton

Of the many famous quotes describing Sir Bobby Charlton the one I like the most is undoubtedly from Geoffrey Green: "He always possessed an elemental quality; jinking, changing feet and direction, turning gracefully on the ball or accelerating through a gap surrendered by a confused enemy."

Just ahead of Arthur Hopcraft's The Football Man in which he met Sir Bobby Charlton's sports master Mr McGuiness who had this to say: "Thin lad of 9 playing football with 14 year old's & just waltzing through them. Even at 9 he had a body swerve & a natural check that would take other man the wrong way."

Apart from that much talked about semi-final win over Portugal in the 1966 World Cup, his 68 goals in 3 seasons immediately after Munich on his less favoured left-wing speak volumes of his dedication for Manchester United Football Club. Sir Matt Busby summarized it as "When things looked their blackest after the Munich accident, and there were times when I felt great despair, I was enormously cheered to think that Bobby Charlton was there. His presence was a great source of inspiration to keep working for the restoration of Manchester United."

The official MUFC dedication last year with a poetry was top class. 
Other notable quotes about Sir Bobby Charlton:
"Dispossessing Kostic about forty yards from goal, this gifted boy leaned brilliantly into his stride, made ground rapidly for about ten yards, and the beat the finest goalkeeper on the Continent with a shot of tremendous power and superb placing. There, one thought, surely goes England's Bloomer of the future."
Don Davies the 'Old International' of Manchester Guardian 5th Feb, 1958, Belgrade

"Bobby Charlton was still there, a cornerstone on which '62 side was to be built. Alongside me, Busby bought Cantwell, Setters, Herd. These were the new 'Busby Babes': Giles, Stiles, Chisnal, Nicholson, Lawton. Little did we know how good it was going to get over the next 5 years."
Sir Denis Law on his arrival from Torino

"I have nothing but respect for Bobby now, but we were totally different characters, and for a long time didn't get on. There was one similarity. Like me, he was his own man." 
George Best

"England beat us in 1966 because Bobby Charlton was just a bit better than me."
Franz Beckenbauer

"He was a global star of his day. Go to any country in the world and even if they couldn't speak English, the two words they did know were: 'Bobby Charlton.'"
Sir Geoff Hurst

"Some say Bobby Charlton was a scorer of great goals, rather than a great goalscorer. Yet no player has scored more for England and no player has scored more for its greatest club , Manchester United. So his 49 goals for England and his 249 for United can’t all have been 25-yard thunderbolts – it just seems that way in the mind’s eye. When he hammered one into the top corner from long range it was as if he were a man possessed, desperate to separate the leather casing from the bladder. I made virtually all of my 57 England appearances alongside Bob and I can remember few greater competitors and few greater professionals. His fellow greats like Best and Moore did not lead blameless lives away from the game but Bob was dedicated to his craft.His sainted image made it difficult when you played against United though, because although I never heard him swear at a referee, Bob would moan at them constantly and they would be so in awe of the great man that they’d usually do as they were told. I can remember, more than once, yelling: “F***ing hell ref, why don’t you just give Bobby the whistle, you might as well!” But this is a man who survived the Munich air disaster in 1958, won the World Cup in 1966, the European Cup in 1968 and played a key role in the appointment of Alex Ferguson as Old Trafford manager in 1986. He’s history in the flesh is Bobby Charlton. He’s our greatest living football man."
Jimmy Greaves

Four-time FA Youth Cup winner, FA Cup winner, Thrice English League winner, 1966 World Cup winner, Ballon d'Or winner/European Footballer of the Year, FWA Footballer of the Year, European Cup winner!!!

Easily the Greatest English sporting legend who conquered it all.

Back Ole but not without specific objectives

Even the most die-hard fans of MUFC have basic demands from the Manager and its not without any riders even if he is an ex-legend who scored that winner in Barcelona to win the unprecedented Treble in '99.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started very well last December and has not recovered from the loss to Arsenal, Wolves and Barcelona stretching way back to March last season. Away record is pathetic, creativity from open play non-existent, players just active in transitions like counter-attack, two central defensive midfielders stifle the movement while covering for the only area made strong with summer transfers in Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka (i.e., double whammy!), extremely poor free-kicks and corner-kicks worse than a Championship team, inability to drop non-performing players due to thread bare squad, mounting injuries, sticking to only one system 4-2-3-1 despite poor results, making the number 10 nonexistent on the pitch exasperating the situation further, so on and so forth.

Any new manager in charge of MUFC now would struggle, yes, but might on the contrary develop far more detailed technical plan than just hire young and hungry British players. The injury crisis continues before and after Rui Faria the assistant to Jose Mourinho. MUFC cannot dominate the midfield and control a game even against teams in the relegation places. Selling Fellaini is a step in the right direction until fans favorite Ander Herrera was short changed (while the board renewed and rewarded Phil Jones recently voted the worst defender in the world) leaving the 'engine room' woefully inept.

Ole must deliver a top 6 finish and a good run in at least two Cup competitions esp the Europa. Failing which the manner of the play (urgently needs a reset to initial days of Ole) and player morale will be scrutinized (which not surprisingly has improved since majority of dead wood have been removed), and if found satisfactory given the difficult season he might just be "Our Man of Destiny" as Sir Alex Ferguson prophetically described him, to turn around MUFC in the coming years. Anything short will lead to accusations ascribed to David Moyes - lacking the big picture.

The first quarter of a season over MUFC are 12th in the table which is underwhelming to say the least. League table does not hide the poor performances against Newcastle, West Ham and Crystal Palace while the Wolves draw might feel bit unlucky but the penalty miss owing to confusion on who should take it was their own doing. Ole needs to turn things around especially at three away games at Norwich, Bournemouth and Sheffield United with key players in Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba returning from injuries, else it might not be a surprise if Ole isn't around at the end of November.

Ole needs to reset in order to unleash Pobga

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs a reset now that he has completed one sweep of evaluating all players including from the academy within a single system that he has finalized upon given that he has cleared majority of the dead wood. He needs it now to arrest the decline of attacking threat considered the 'de facto' USP of any iconic club not least Manchester United.

Central to that is to get the best of Paul Pobga which Ole himself famously said when he took over from Jose Mourinho. Goals from open play has been the problem for MUFC and no one better to provide that incisive pass to create a game defining goal than the Frenchman. No other MUFC player in the meantime has taken the opportunity to make the number 10 role their own which opens the door wide for player of Pogba's caliber. Player of the season thus far Scott McTominay to anchor the midfield with Fred alongside Pogba just in front. Expecting Pogba to do that was a mistake especially when he had such established players at Juventus and France National team set up the platform for his creativity to flow.

Getting Pogba to play where he can express himself better will increase the chances of MUFC scoring goals and in turn increase his worth in the transfer market. Both will be beneficial to the club when his contract comes up for renewal now. In the present context Pobga's worth has fallen based on the his own form and that of the club from approx #180 million to #100 million which is a massive decline coinciding with the MUFC stock finishing the lowest at 16.09 on 01-Oct. Ole's appointment initially reversed the decline in December last year to reach a high in late Feb at 21.21 before the win away in Paris. Stock did not sustain a boost from opening of the summer transfer period in early July and has generally waned down ever since. In summer MUFC relinquished its top spot on Forbes list of most valuable football club to the two Spanish giants with FIVE English clubs also chasing down fast. Although MUFC revenue has been resilient to slump in on-field performance due to its global branding the club needs to be mindful of strides made by its competitors as its the major trophies that ultimately defines this giant club.

Come January, 2021 which is just 15 months away the clubs arguably most prized asset Paul Pobga in his prime age of just 28 can be free to negotiate with other clubs will NOT bode well with club hierarchy either. Pogba himself may aspire to win trophies which may be 2-3 year distant on MUFC horizon considering the rebuild now and he may want out as Gary Neville points out. But for now the Reset with Pogba as a catalyst can be the springboard that the emerging rookies like Greenwood, Gomes, Chong, Garner, Williams et al can rally around to turn the fortunes till fresh reinforcements can be targeted in January else Ole risks the patience of Old Trafford faithful accustomed to winning.

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