Showing posts with label Premier League. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Premier League. Show all posts

Quest for 'new normal' in football

'Project Restart' is in full swing to bring a conclusion to the 2019-20 premier league season for which the remaining 92 games need to be completed. That is dependent on a lot of factors the major one being by early June the curve of infected people with the corona virus would have been flattened in the UK to free the NHS staff to conduct tests twice a week on all football players, limited staff and media for six weeks totaling some 30,000 tests. Olympic village style of facility where all players of different teams stay but individually in separate rooms and travel only to and from the ground to play is being mooted. Location is still being worked out with the bottom six teams mainly located in the south except Villa which might sway the decision as a crowded city like London is likely to be avoided.

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish made a well balanced case for 'Project Restart' that "sporting integrity" alone demanded the season must be completed and supported UK governments cause to raise morale through football "It has the power to lighten lives; why not see if we can use that power again?" He ended by quoting Spanish La Liga head Javier Tebas "If important economic sectors cannot restart, in a safe and controlled manner, they could end up disappearing. That could happen to professional football." Few clubs like Tottenham, Arsenal, West Ham, Brighton have allowed players to return to training although individually this has started the process of restarting and others including United might follow soon.

Will be interesting to see how following scenarios would be negotiated given that football is a contact sport unlike tennis:
  • What if one of the players test positive during this restart? Will a second XI or reserves team play instead or next match be forfeited or points shared.
  • Will players that have come in contact with the infected player on the pitch be quarantined for 14 days?
  • Will spitting due to constant running or exhaustion invite a yellow or red card offense?
  • Goal celebrations might be muted to limit contact, but can't control the crowded goalmouth while taking a corner.
  • Teams battling relegation will miss their fans vocal home support that acts like the 12th man in crucial matches.
  • Without match-day revenues the top six clubs will be most impacted as they will not be able to fill their large stadiums and perhaps this limited setup might even the monetary imbalance temporarily.
  • Liverpool are so far ahead that they might field their B team and still win the league easily.
  • Few players from each team might decide not play putting the competition in jeopardy.
  • Will be difficult to rule out fans congregating outside the empty stadiums especially for crucial fixtures like Everton-Liverpool derby and other relegation six pointers.
All eyes on German Bundesliga which might return this month. Germany has the best corona virus testing mechanism in the world that resulted in lowest mortality rate that's a testament to the leadership of chancellor Angela Merkel. Luckily DFB is also lead by Christian Seifert since 2005 who has overseen impressive growth in revenues for Bundesliga welcomed the government decision to restart "It is associated with a great responsibility for the clubs and their employees to implement the medical and organizational requirements in a disciplined manner. Games without stadium spectators are not an ideal solution for anyone. In a crisis threatening the very existence of some clubs, however, it is the only way to ensure the continued existence of the leagues in their current form." Authorities have reported 10 positive cases across top two divisions. Borussia Monchengladbach has developed a new means to earn revenue by asking fans to donate cut-outs to fill the stadium. Bundesliga games will be played as usual with home and away format without the need for a neutral venue but without fans.

Ed Woodward was pragmatic about the future as well as cognizant about the present situation when he said that big money transfers are ignoring the realities that face the sport. This raised questions about Jadon Sancho being lured with iconic number 7 jersey to Manchester United. Sancho was the first player across the big five leagues to have double digit goals and assists this season. New reality might dry up potential suitors for Paul Pogba who has yet to discuss his future which may include a new deal to extend his stay at Old Trafford or use the proceeds from his sale to complete the squad re-build. David de Gea is a year away from completing 10 years and said "I hope I can be here for many more years." which will auger well with fans.

United hierarchy would be busy pre-planning the work usually done at the end of season like deciding on new jersey, refurbishing Old Trafford facilities and relaying the pitch, possible postponement of summer tour which was to Asia this time, tweaking pre-season training and fitness regime, prospective new shirt sponsors as deal with Chevrolet comes to an end in 2021, finalizing new player recruits. Trafford Council gave approval to barrier seating idea mooted by Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) and Fans Forum for initial 1,500 seats while the atmosphere section at Stretford End is being extended to south-west corner.

Extended time off during this lock down would have turned United's attention to the next stars like Ferran Torres for Jadon Sancho, Matheus Pereira for Jack Grealish, Sandro Tonali for James Maddison, Kalvin Phillips for Wilfred Ndidi, Kai Havertz for Danny van de Beek, Odsonne Edourad for Moussa Dembele, Dayot Upamecano for Kalidou Koulibaly while experience criterion might force Luis Alberto for Saul Niguez and Mauro Icardi for Timo Werner. United remain in contention to sign Jude Bellingham from Birmingham and trying their best to retain Angel Gomes who holds record for being the youngest debutant breaking Duncan Edwards record that stood for 64 years in May, 2017.

To show solidarity with the NHS the clubs name in front of Old Trafford was only lit with letters in capitals "maNcHeSter united" demonstrating original thinking supporting the noble cause. Among the many initiatives during this pandemic that earned genuine praise from fans the best one is from former players calling out old and devoted season ticket holders to enquire about their health.

Threat of litigation from bottom clubs who might be relegated is forcing the Premier League to play the remaining matches to determine the final league table. For such an unprecedented event like this pandemic the ideal response would have been to freeze the table as is with no relegation but promotion from Championship, and in the next three years get back to normal 20 teams from 23. This would mean playing 44 games in a league season not 38 putting more pressure on already crowded calendar and necessitate the removal of League Cup introduced by Alan Hardaker the secretary of Football League in 1960 - a competition which lost its relevance long time ago. The inaugural Premier League season in 1992 had 22 teams which was brought down to 20 in 1995. Euro's postponing to next year will make national team games important in the run up to the competition and the governing body UEFA might not like distraction of an overcrowded schedule before the event.

Second wave of the last Pandemic the Spanish flu in 1918 caused the maximum fatalities compared to the first and third wave. Science back then wasn't as advanced as it is now to enable different simultaneous approach's being tried all around the world for a vaccine. Co-ordination on a global scale remains a challenge thus expect a few start, stop and restart's. This remains the most challenging situation facing the world since the second world war, though football in front of human lives fades in comparison its role to restore public morale during and after the last great war amid strict rations in UK and Europe can never be ruled out.

United efforts to help during this outbreak cheers fans

Manchester United players led by captain Harry Maguire have taken a 30% pay cut on their one month salary to donate #3.5 million to NHS, while rest of the English Premier League (EPL) and Professional Footballer's Association (PFA) are yet to agree on a similar proposal. Last month the club decided to continue to pay the match day staff numbering 900, perhaps the largest in the EPL during the suspension of all matches while few other EPL clubs had put their staff on furlough. United joined hands with rivals City to donate #100,000 to local food banks. These series of measures by the club have made the supporters proud.

However the Club did release a video of how two of its players having a difficult season are coping with the shutdown in Paul Pogba & Jesse Lingard. Perhaps aimed at building bridges with the fans! Futures of both at United remain uncertain. Lack of live football has been partially compensated by re-run of classic matches including that famous away win in Turin vs Juventus with unselfish captain Roy Keane ensuring passage to the Champions' League final while he himself being suspended wasn't available for a momentous night at Nou Camp, 1999.

Too soon to call the PR appointment of Neil Ashton a success but the above steps certainly bode well. Challenges on clearing the deadwood from the playing squad remain as United contemplate the return of its highest earner Alexis Sanchez having flopped at Inter on loan. Will he move to a Chinese club on a high wage or loaned out again remains to be seen. Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Chris Smalling, Andreas Pereira being the others. Benefits of removing Fellaini, Herrera, Valencia, Darmian, Lukaku, Young has been the emergence of Scott McTominay, James Garner, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe, Tahith Chong and Mason Greenwood from the academy.

UEFA having postponed the Euro's to next year a move that has reiterated their commitment to complete this season's competition's including the Champions' League, Europa League and local leagues to ensure the clubs do not lose the lucrative revenue from TV sponsorship. Various scenario's have been discussed including hosting all pending European or league games behind closed doors in a single city with multiple stadiums like in China or Birmingham. Postponement is possible as far as September with a curtailed season next term but anything later might lead to freezing the league table as is like in Belgium or voiding the season.

Summer transfer window and players contracts that run through to 30, June might be impacted. Bayern Munich chief rightly predicted the huge transfer prices of players might fall by about 10-25% or more in a few cases. This presents a unique opportunity for clubs like Manchester United who might have more cash to burn than most clubs to use it wisely for a bargain to get a superstar but not make a mistake like Alexis Sanchez again. A storm blew the top of Victoria Ground home of Stoke City in 1976 which was uninsured and led them to sell Jimmy Greenhoff to United who was instrumental in denying Liverpool the treble in '77 by scoring the winner in the FA Cup final that year. Scenario now is far more serious as clubs across Europe will be fighting to survive with absolutely no earnings for unknown length of time. Clubs like Barcelona, Athletico Madrid might need to sell presenting United with an chance to pursue Antoine Greizmann or Saul Niguez. If Paul Pogba is moved out then Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Donny van de Beek or Saul Niguez, Thomas Meunier would represent an excellent transfer window. Dean Henderson must spend a year as understudy to David de Gea before taking over as number one choice else United might look at another loan move next season.

Solskjaer revealed how Carrick and McKenna are working on a plan for a two or three week pre-season if the league resumes. Seems like the new coach Martyn Pert whom United hired in December, 2019 is becoming another of Solskjaer's great hires and Fred is an example of how Martyn has worked on individuals to get the best out of them. Meanwhile Marcus Rashford has become the best symbol of how players can play their part during these tough times by contributing to the society.

#StayHome #StaySafe

Suspension of all football matches due to Coronavirus pandemic

Club released a statement on Friday, 13th March confirming the suspension of football matches with immediate affect. The matches slated to be played till the end of this month have been impacted. This follows behind closed door game against LASK Linz which United won emphatically 5-0 with Tahith Chong fresh from signing a new contract created two assists. There has been instances in the past where the season has been suspended due to unusual winter weather or hooliganism that has disrupted the season but were able to resume and finish nonetheless. Example the 1962-63 season had to be extended by a month due to the Big Freeze to complete the backlog which seems challenging due to this summer's Euro 2020.

After the boxing day match in December 1962 the next one that United played was on 23 February. Without the outlet of playing that few used to vent their frustrations things came to a head regarding the tactics and training when few seniors like skipper Noel Cantwell, Maurice Setters, Harry Greg questioned the methods. Post Munich it was the ever reliable ex-keeper Jack Crompton who conducted the training sessions on Sir Matt's behest. Players targeted Jack but actually wanted to know the reaction of 'the Boss' if he was receptive to the ideas that were flooding the game at Ipswich, Tottenham, Leeds, Liverpool, Celtic et al. During clear the air meeting 'the Boss' was all ears and Jack did speak out on being targeted especially by Cantwell. The Boss knew about these murmurs more than everyone thought and it merely confirmed to him the team's receptiveness. Like Bruno Fernandes now, it was Pat Crerand then who had joined the club recently and the fortunes of the club started turning positively.

Despite finishing 19th just avoiding relegation United won their first trophy after Munich the 1963 FA Cup where 4th placed Leicester City were the favourites who had one of the best defenses in the league with keeper Gordon Banks, captain Colin Appleton, Ian King and Frank McLintok dubbed the 'Ice Kings'. Crerand flourished in the wide expanse of Wembley after struggling to settle at Old Trafford initially, created the crucial passes for Law to score that was captured by Alan Hoby of Sunday Express as "a deadly duet danced by those two tartan magicians, Crerand and Law." United played Leicester twice in two days on 15th and 16th April over Easter drawing the first match 2-2 at home and losing a scintillating encounter 3-4 away where Denis Law scored a hat-trick that was cancelled by hat-trick of Ken Keyworth that took Leicester to the top of the league.

Freeze meant United played 3rd to 6th round of FA Cup matches in March starting with a 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town where Denis Law scored a hat-trick then beat Aston Villa, Chelsea, Coventry City and Southampton in semi-final in April all without needing a replay. Albert Quixall scored in the first four FA Cup matches and converted a crucial penalty after Denis Law was fouled to draw 1-1 at Maine Road the result that kept red half of Manchester in the league while relegating the blue half. Youth Cup winners of 64 in George Best, David Sadler, Bobby Noble, John Aston Jr, John Fitzpatrick, Jimmy Rimmer then combined to provide the exuberance with Shay Brennan, Tony Dunne, David Gaskell, Nobby Stiles, Johnny Giles that jelled with the experience of the seniors Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, Bill Foulkes, David Herd, Paddy Crerand needed to lift the team to glory.

Euro 2020 is being held in 12 different countries this time to commemorate the 60th year of the tournament with finals to be staged in Wembley. If the outbreak is not curtailed by end of this month UEFA and FA will have a tough decision to make; either allow the league to finish provided Euro's are postponed to next year in which the new expanded Club World Cup format is to be rolled out by FIFA or end the league season as is to let the Euro's be staged. Last time a season was involuntarily interrupted completely was in 1939-40 which only managed to have three games played before the second world war halted all major football till 1946-47. United had started the '39 season with a win and a draw then traveled to London to play Charlton Athletic to whom they lost 0-2. Next day war was declared and within two days the entire league season was cancelled.

This is the second break of the season after the FA introduced a winter break in February for the first time. After freeze United needed to play 18 league matches and 6 FA Cup matches which meant playing 7 league games in month of April and May each which was a huge ask. Now United just need to play 9 times in league, 3 times in FA Cup and 6 times in Europe if they go all the way to the finals. In 60's cup was probably given higher importance by finishing it first except for semi and finals but now the league might be given the first priority then European competitions and lastly the FA Cup that has all Premier League clubs in quarter-finals that compounds the situation. Euro 2020 starts from 13th June but with major leagues having their national teams based in their own countries the traveling logistics at the start of the tournament are minimized. United have already played 9 games each in December and January, and similar number of games are required to be played in April and May to complete the season which is definitely possible. Hoping the efforts of everyone to limit the spread of virus comes good. God speed!

United are on a 11 game unbeaten run since the shock loss to Burnley. Unlike the issues that cropped up for Busby despite just one loss in nine league games prior to suspension, Solskjaer is in a much healthier terrain having taken tough structural decisions early about the deadwood, getting the recruitment right, reorganized the setup at youth level, getting the best out of Fred, easing Williams and Greenwood, naming Maguire as captain, winning over Matic and all this despite injuries to Martial, Shaw, McTominay, Rashford and Pogba. Busby did hold his flock together while inducting the youth to reap the rewards.

Solskjaer must deliver now that Fernandes and Ighalo are in

The protracted transfer of Bruno Fernandes and deadline day dream of Odion Ighalo realized to assuage not only Solskjaer but also the agitating fans who brought upon themselves disrepute by throwing flare at Ed Woodward's home. Fernandes was being chased by Manchester United for a long time yet it consumed almost the entire January window to leave too little time to process for a much needed striker given the injury to Marcus Rashford. Odion Ighalo top scored for 3rd place Nigeria in the 2019 African Cup of Nations ahead of much fancied Mo Salah, Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane, Wilfred Zaha and becomes the first major signing to a big club in the English Premier League from the Chinese Super League. Fans are fully behind the Nigerian who gets to fulfill his wish of emulating his childhood hero's Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke in playing for his beloved club. The loan move also means that MUFC do not spend big on a short term assignment and at the same time get an option to sign him later if indeed he proves to be a success at Old Trafford.

The results since the new year has been depressing. Loss to Arsenal, Liverpool and Burnley sandwiched between the two legged progress in the FA Cup against Wolves and a loss in two legs to neighbours City in the League Cup. The two victories came against bottom side Norwich and league two side Tranmere in the FA Cup 4th round! Burnley beat MUFC at Old Trafford for the first time since September, 1962. The last match before the winter break was a draw against Wolves in which Bruno Fernandes made his debut with five shots of goal, organizing the midfield but dropped deep to support the team that reduced his potency to score or assist. MUFC played better in the second half, after 88 minutes Dalot was introduced to play on right wing not Tahith Chong and the Portuguese sent his header off Man of the Match Aaron Wan-Bissaka's cross wide of the goal.

This game saw the victims of Munich air disaster remembered by a ceremony before the game at the memorial and during the game with a round of applause in the 58th minute. Neither Ed Woodward nor the Glazer family were present in the stadium to mark one of most important events in the annual calendar of the great institution that Sir Matt Busby painstakingly build from the bombed Old Trafford pitch post the war. The fans walk-out protest did not materialize either in the 68th minute. United and Wolves having played each other six times within a year lacked the edge to tilt the match as players and staff longed for the winter break due to depleted squad and additional matches for Europa League qualification respectively. The winter break after almost two thirds of the league fixtures having been completed isn't correctly placed but is positive step towards fulfilling a long standing demand from Sir Alex Ferguson who cited this as a major reason why continental teams had an edge in winning the European trophies during his reign. United now have not scored a goal in their last three league games against Liverpool, Burnley and Wolves.

The next six games are against Chelsea, Watford, Everton, Man City, Tottenham and Sheffield United till 21st March while most of the later seven games of the season are against the bottom half of the league except the last one against Leicester City. Solskjaer has got the two players to push for the top four, and two Cups FA and Europa. For final top four spot there are ten clubs within seven point gap chasing Chelsea including MUFC. Solskjaer is yet to win three consecutive league matches this season and based on form will lead United to its lowest ever points total in Premier League history. The return date of Paul Pogba is not yet known. Based on form if Solskjaer finishes outside the top six and fails to win a trophy questions will be raised over his position. Mauricio Pochettino who has worked on a shoe-string budget will attract the interest of any club owner, more so the business minded Glazers. As in the summer and January window this break will also see a plethora of stories linking Manchester United to attract its millions of fans to sites based at times not on fact but fiction like the take-over by Saudi's, player stories like Pogba and summer transfer wish list.

United face yet another old team of Tommy Docherty in Derby County in 5th round of FA Cup at Pride Park where Wayne Rooney is trying to revive the clubs push for promotion. Tonight the youth team play Leeds in the FA Youth Cup 5th round a stage reached for the first time since 2012 speaks volumes of the way the competition synonymous with Busby Babes and club now have not kept pace. The restructuring of the youth setup in the summer is progressing in the right direction at least. The prospect of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba playing together will cheer the supporters only if the club becomes more transparent over the Frenchman's progress from injury which on paper does not sound too serious. Pogba doing well at Euro 2020 and later sold to the highest bidder in the extended summer transfer window till end of August is the best hope. Fans though are more excited about Scott McTominay's return to help push for top 4.

Four goal opening match win sets up MUFC for Top 4 finish

Manchester United beat their main Premier League rivals in terms of trophy's won 4-0 in the opening match of the new season 2019. Last four occasions when they have defeated any opponent by four goals MUFC have at least finished in the top 4 right from the post war years.

In 1985 under Ron Atkinson, United beat Aston Villa 4-0 with goals from Mark Hughes(2), Norman Whiteside and Jesper Olsen. Eventually ended the season in 4th place after such a promising start when they remained unbeaten till November.

In 2003 under Sir Alex Ferguson, United beat Bolton Wanderers 4-0 with goals from Ryan Giggs(2), Paul Scholes, Ruud van Nistelrooy. Finished the season in 3rd place.

In 2006 and still under Sir Alex Ferguson, United beat Fulham 5-1 with goals from Louis Saha, Wayne Rooney(2), Cristiano Ronaldo and an Own Goal. Finished the season as Champions.

In 2017 under Jose Mourinho, United beat West Ham 4-0 with goals from Romelu Lukaku(2), Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba. Finished 2nd which Mourinho considered his greatest achievement.

All of the above huge opening days victories were achieved at Old Trafford. In sports records are meant to be broken but here is hoping for a great season from MUFC.

Chelsea opening day fixtures:
MUFC did beat Chelsea 5-2 in 1958 where Sir Bobby Charlton scored a hat trick and Alex Dawson got two more. Finished runners up famously by drawing upon their indomitable spirit post Munich disaster.

In 1952, United beat them 2-0 with goals from the two Johnny's Berry and Downie.

In 1953, United drew with them 1-1 with goal from Stan Pearson.

New kids on the block from MUFC - Its not '55 nor '95 will it work


MUFC head into the new 2019 English Premier League season with only 3 signings and net spend of approx 65 million which might still come down if Darmian, Rojo and Sanchez are sold before end of European transfer deadline. Considering that the club had not bought anyone in January nor spent heavily last summer meant the expectations of fans were raised given how well Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had turned around the fortunes between December and February, and social media pressure of the #GlazersOut movement.

Beneath the surface there seems to be a method employed by the coaching staff all of whose positions have been filled for the first time in a decade. They have not only sought young and hungry players who consider joining this illustrious trophy laden club as a step-up but also have picked out defense as an area requiring urgent repair.

In Harry Maguire they have got a leader apart from being England's best centre-half. Mourinho was furious with the club last summer for not recruiting one although he broke the record for the same position twice in Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof. Clearly the missing element was leadership. United have not made their best player as Captain in recent seasons but senior-most who might not play every match. Fans hope that after David de Gea signs his contract extension he will wear the arm band, last worn by Goal Keeper in 1919 - Jack Mew. Another area where no one since Gary Neville's retirement made his own seems to have been finally filled in Aaron Wan-Bissaka at right-back and he comes with EPL experience unlike Matteo Darmian. Luke Shaw the left-back was voted the clubs player of the season last year while Victor Lindelof had a steady season after a slow start to his United career. For the first time since United last won the league in '13 under Ferguson, they now have a formidable defense.

Ole's mentor Sir Alex Ferguson also signed a right-back in Viv Anderson and centre-half in Steve Bruce as two of his first three signings. Comparisons do not end there. Like in '95 where Ferguson famously let Hughes, Ince and Kanchelsks go and replaced them with 'Class of 92' prompting Alan Hansen to say "You can't win anything with kids", Ole has let Fellaini, Herrera and Lukaku off without replacements. Ole retracted Pereira after the FA Cup 3rd round game and made him ready by February when the change was there for everyone to see, esp the goal against Southampton. Fred had a great night in Paris against PSG. McTominay ran riot against Barcelona in the first leg of Champions' League quarter-finals and has persisted with the Scot ceding the fact that his positional sense will naturally improve with age. Only player yet to respond to Ole has been Alexis Sanchez and one gets a feeling its only a matter of time before the Chilean starts to produce the magic his earnings so demand.

Apart from these Ole has promoted youth and bought a sensation of the championship last season in Daniel James. Tuanzebe (back from two excellent campaigns on loan at Villa) in defense, Angel Gomes and James Garner in midfield, Mason Greenwood in attack, Tahit Chong on the wing. All of them had a great pre-season tour of Far East, restoring the belief in Ole that "If they are good enough, they are old enough." a famous Matt Busby quote. This has prompted comparisons with Busby Babes of '55 and  Fergie's Fledglings of '95.

Busby introduced the Babes from '51 onwards after their debut against arch rivals Liverpool ("United's Babes were cool and confidant", Tom Jackson). They had won the League in '51 after a gap of 41 years with Carey, Chilton, Pearson, Cockburn, Aston Sr, Rowley forming the backbone of the squad who also played in '48 FA Cup triumph. This coupled with United winning the first six FA Youth Cups from '52 gave Busby plenty of options to think about. '53 would prove even more significant with record signing Tommy Taylor and debut to Duncan Edwards, both of whom dominated the '55 and '56 league winning teams.

Ferguson re-focused the emphasis on youth under an impressive coach Eric Harrison that bore results by winning the FA Youth Cup in '92. And later became mainstay of the senior squad from '95 while Giggs was already part of the first team since '91. That team had a spine of Schmeichel, Bruce, Pallister, Irwin, Keane, Cantona. On that foundation United went on to win the League and FA Cup double with kids in Neville brothers, Butt and Scholes.

Ole meanwhile has just got his defense together and are yet to know each others strengths and weakness. While apart from De Gea and Pogba, United have lacked a spine capable of holding the team against tough opponents and guide the upstarts in the fast, pacey and physical demands of the league. Ole has broken from the recent mistakes of using just the cheque-book to fill the gaps, choosing instead to form a structure with a high-press style that requires lot of stamina which was the focus of the pre-season training. This has certainly excited the long serving die-hard fans with eager anticipation of the new campaign. But doubts remain if United would do any better than finishing 6th given the absence of a proven spine, lack of depth in other positions and loss of their talisman Lukaku.

Lot rides on young Rashford and Martial to not only make up for loss of Lukaku but start proving their credentials of becoming a lead marksmen for the team on a consistent basis. The right midfield was bereft of creating ideas in recent seasons and introducing James or Chong on the wing with consistent run of games for Pereira might yield better results. Sanchez might occupy the left attacking role where he had clashed with Pogba in the past for possession. McTominay and Fred have to support the slowing Matic, whose positional sense is still great to thwart and create chances. Attack and midfield areas still need sorting out in later transfer windows requiring patience from fans and MUFC Board. From Busby, Ferguson analogy and the spine of the team that needs strengthening in a methodical way, Ole has created a 3 year blueprint to challenge for the top which is better than quick fixes that have not solved the root cause.

At long last the defense is sorted and new kids are raring to go as per the great traditions of this famous club, can't wait to get behind the team. #OlesAtTheWheel #OurManOfDestiny #GGMU

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