Showing posts with label Wolves. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wolves. Show all posts

Will Woodward seize the opportunity to gain acceptance from fans

Wolves are proving to be the bogey team for Solskjaer's Manchester United as once Nottingham Forest did to Ferguson's in his early years. Beating them would be a huge boost of confidence like overcoming a mental block. MUFC in the recent past have done well against teams from top half and that bodes well for this match. The tie is important for Wolves to ascertain if they have emerged out of that shock semi-final loss to Watford in the FA Cup last year or not. Wolves if they had won would have faced Man City a club who they want to emulate and structurally they are well setup to aim for silverware following the steady years under coach Nuno Espirito Santo & Fosun ownership aided by super agent Jorge Mendes.

Squad rotation will be crucial given the League Cup semi-final is on Tuesday against Man City who will put a strong side to win now that they seem to have lost the League. MUFC can't afford to choose one cup competition over the other especially if one is more prestigious and the other just three matches away to winning a silverware. Losing out on both would have Solskjaer staring at eventualities that befell Wilf McGuinness and David Moyes while a win will buy him an opportunity  to win a silverware like Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho. Will Solskjaer make the cut?

Will Angel Gomes play again and eventually sign a new contract with MUFC? He is well suited to play the number 10 role that only recently has seen Andreas growing into and Gomes can be a good long term option despite the disadvantages of his height. Matic, Gomes and Chong can sign contract with European clubs in January for a free transfer in the summer. Brandon Williams might start giving that wing a real panache and a goal threat. Romero probably should not just play in the cup games alone but also take David de Gea's spot in the Premier League for a few games in order to get a positive reaction from MUFC's best player of last decade. Fred and Matic might start due to injuries to McTominay and want-away Pogba. Solskjaer has played with three at the back but that hasn't produced positive results than just to block the opposition like the credible draw against LFC while in other matches has put MUFC at a disadvantage.

Ed Woodward should take a call on Pogba for the sake of recognizing the contributions of the team  that without the World Cup winner has taken the club to the fifth position in the league. And in parallel get two more players starting with Grealish or Maddison. It would cement his acceptance with the fans who have seen few positive moves from the banker this season. An opportunity like this does not come often especially with non-big name manager in Solskjaer at the helm. Refusing to do business in January or refusing to deal with super-agents is not a mature way of conducting football transfer instead it needs to be shifted to focus on value-addition with a stable medium-to-long term view. Woodward must take inspiration from the transfer of Denis Law for whom the club took debt for the first time post WW2 to support Sir Matt Busby. Sale of Pogba should not be a precondition to bring players to fill the big void in midfield since the departures of Fellaini and Herrera. That British transfer deal #115,000 also sheds light on how Sir Matt asked Denis to sit quiet in Manchester for a month to force Torino to budge and not sell him to Juventus instead. Woodward should also realize from the same transfer that MUFC would be better off to let Pogba leave now.

Mark Robins goal got MUFC the victory over Nottingham Forest in '90 FA Cup 3rd round and the first major trophy was subsequently won by Sir Alex Ferguson who was supposedly on the brink of being sacked if he was to loose the 3rd round tie. The significance of today's match is certainly not lost especially on the protege Solskjaer whom Ferguson called 'Our Man of Destiny'.  

Defining week for Solskjaer that seem familiar with McGuinness and Moyes era

Wilf McGuinness and David Moyes had taken their teams at Manchester United to the semi-finals of the League Cup which they lost in 1970 December and 2014 January and went out of the FA Cup 3rd round respectively with the former's reign ending in December itself while the later lasted till April. That predicament could soon befall Ole Gunnar Solskjaer if the tie against Wolves in the 3rd round of FA Cup and against Man City in the league cup semi-finals over two legs do not go right, nor if he fails to stitch together a run of victories in the league to secure the 4th spot.

The patchy results in the league despite the victories over Spurs and Man City he has clearly failed to bring consistency that normally would have meant a run of 5 or 6 straight victories increasing the confidence of his young charges. Unbeaten at Old Trafford since the loss to Crystal Palace in late August and six game unbeaten run that included three draws are the only two positives that have protected Solskjaer in the results oriented business of football management. Loss to Arsenal was a consequence of two bad choices by the Norwegian: Lingard instead of in-form Andreas and James instead of Greenwood. No Angel Gomes in the squad either who traveled but did not make it to the bench due to issues over his contract. To resurrect the confidence of David De Gea MUFC appointed a new goal keeping coach Craig Mawson from Burnley.  Fans would have loved to see a hard fought draw given the hectic schedule and eke out a result to maintain another run of games unbeaten.

All focus was once again and unfairly on Paul Pogba who did not play in the match after Solskjaer had hinted that he might be involved earlier in the week. Two events clearly points to non-cohesion between the football and commercial management at the club. Firstly after MUFC pulled out of Haaland deal Pogba's agent gave a damning indictment saying "It’s a club out of touch with reality and without a sporting project. I wouldn’t take anyone there, they would even ruin Maradona, Pele and Maldini." Huge loss of commission from that Haaland deal seem obvious but why should MUFC allow such a diatribe from an agent of a player employed by the club. Second is more worrisome actually spoken by Solskjaer "How long is Pogba out for? Three or four weeks maybe, I don't know. He's been advised to have an operation by his people and he'll probably do that." It reminds of Mourinho wanting the Frenchman out but could not due to Management disagreement over the loss of revenue vis-a-vis social media. Despite Solskjaer maintaining utmost restraint so far this season to put a brave face on a tough situation given the weak squad this admission does demand an transparent revelation of the exact injury suffered by Pogba. No talks about contract extension with Pogba who is already in his final 17 months of his existing one does bare out the hard truth.

Without Pogba and more importantly McTominay for a whole month could jeopardize what could possibly be achieved this season. James Garner and Dylan Levitt may get more game time but its probably a year too early for them to be playing in the Premier League every week. MUFC must reignite the interest in Kalvin Phillips or Sandro Tonali based on Solskjaer's template of young and hungry, after sounding out their first tier targets in Grealish and Maddison. The iconic number 7 jersey remains vacant and is still a big draw for an aspiring midfielder seeking world wide acclaim. Ferguson wasn't a fan of January signings either but did bring Vidic and Evra when required. Saul Niguez, Donny van de Beek, Arturo Vidal, Fabian Ruiz, Marco Verratti are pricey options that should be considered. Although experience is the key driver to bring a midfielder given that McTominay might be the first choice Denis Zakaria or Boubakary Soumare may be looked in purely from availability point of view only if none of the other names work out.

The sheer passion shown by Solskjaer coupled with courage to chart through the tough times for the club does deserve more praise than scorn. He is also perhaps caught in the clash of classical manager versus the modern hands on coach from varied background that has inundated the game. The loss to Arsenal away followed by the loss to Wolves in the FA Cup quarter-finals in March was the start of unraveling of deeper issues that led to a collapse towards the end of last season. The same opposition and a year later will the performance and result be any different now? Worse given the same two fixtures are early in January this season if the deficiency in midfield isn't managed by the way of player acquisition the fallout can be disastrous for the 17 remaining league games.

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