Rebuilding Man Utd face uncertain future

first_imgWhat to expect:It is difficult to know what to expect from Solskjaer’s United, who enjoyed a purple patch after the Norwegian replaced Jose Mourinho but slumped alarmingly towards the end of last season.At one stage they looked likely to finish in the top four but there was the suspicion they were getting the rub of the green and so it proved.Their campaign ended with a whimper as they drew 1-1 at relegated Huddersfield and then were beaten 2-0 at home on the final day by Cardiff, who were also heading out of the Premier League.Aaron Wan-Bissaka in action for Manchester United in Singapore © AFP/File / Roslan RAHMANA gap of 32 points to champions Manchester City was embarrassing and many questioned whether the club had been too hasty in appointing the relatively inexperienced Solskjaer to the full-time manager’s post.United will not have Champions League football to paper over the cracks during the coming season, with Thursday nights in the Europa League ringed in the calendar instead.The club have had a positive pre-season but there are still lingering issues that need to be addressed — Paul Pogba’s future is still in doubt and Solskjaer has to wrestle with the conundrum of an under-performing Alexis Sanchez.United had problems at both ends of the pitch last season — scoring 30 goals fewer than City in the Premier League and conceding 54 goals, the most they had conceded in a league season since 1978-79.The 20-time champions desperately need a positive start to rebuild confidence that they can challenge at the sharp end of the Premier League.Anything less and the knives could be out for Solskjaer.New faces:Manchester United are set to make Leicester’s Harry Maguire (R) the world’s most expensive defender © AFP / Oli SCARFFAfter a leaky defence played a key role in United’s struggles last season, Solskjaer made it clear he wanted Leicester’s Harry Maguire to plug the holes.The England centre-back is reportedly on the verge of becoming the world’s most expensive defender, with United said to have agreed an £80 million fee to land Maguire.But have they signed enough faces to boost a squad that looked short of class compared with Manchester City and Liverpool last season?Highly rated right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka has joined from Crystal Palace, with Solskjaer describing the 21-year-old as “one of the best upcoming defenders in the Premier League”.Winger Daniel James was bought from Championship club Swansea to add thrust on the flanks.United have also been linked with a swoop for Juventus forward Paulo Dybala, but the Argentine is said to be unsure about joining a team outside the Champions League.Romelu Lukaku could be on the way out of Old Trafford, with Juventus and Inter Milan both keen on the Belgium striker according to reports.Key man:Can Marcus Rashford spark a Manchester United revival? © AFP/File / HECTOR RETAMALThis is the season when Marcus Rashford will have to step up and show emphatically that he deserves to wear the number 10 shirt at Manchester United.Still only 21, Rashford scored 17 goals in 54 appearances last season for club and country but will have to boost those numbers if he is to be the undisputed leader of United’s attack.Rashford signed a new four-year deal to remain at Old Trafford last month, saying it was “a privilege” every time he wore the shirt.He has scored some sublime goals for the club but with a shortage of goal threat from elsewhere, Solskjaer will want to see him take his tally to 20-plus goals this season and become more of a poacher.0Shares0000(Visited 4 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Can Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turn Manchester United’s fortunes around? © AFP/File / Oli SCARFFLONDON, United Kingdom, Aug 4 – Manchester United have missed out on the top four in four of the six seasons since Alex Ferguson stepped down and fans are coming to terms with their current status as Premier League also-rans.Here, AFP Sport looks at whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can make United contenders again for the first time since their last Premier League title in 2012-13 or whether they are facing another season of turmoil and pain.last_img read more

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Moutinho strike seals Wolves draw at Man Utd

first_imgManchester United dropped points for a second successive Premier League home match on Saturday, as they were held to a 1-1 draw by promoted Wolves.Former manager Alex Ferguson was back at Old Trafford for the first time since his May health scare, but United failed to put on much of a show for him, instead producing a performance which surely would have resulted in the Scot’s infamous “hairdryer” treatment.Although United looked particularly off the pace early on and rode their luck, they broke the deadlock in the 18th minute, with Fred getting his first goal for the club. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! Joao Moutinho scored Wolves’ deserved equaliser with a fine finish early in the second half and, although United upped the pressure late on, they could not find a winner in ‘Fergie time’, as they slumped to another disappointing result.Wolves looked vastly superior to their hosts in the early exchanges and forced David de Gea into two smart saves, as Raul Jimenez and Willy Boly threatened.But United made the most of those let-offs and took the lead against the run of play 18 minutes in – Fred finding the bottom-left corner from 20 yards after Paul Pogba’s clever disguised pass.The Brazilian nearly got a second on the stroke of half-time, but his fine free-kick was tipped on to the post by Rui Patricio.Wolves deservedly restored parity just after the interval, however, as Jimenez teed up Moutinho on the edge of the box and the midfielder found the top-left corner.United huffed and puffed towards the end, with substitute Juan Mata offering a little more creativity than Alexis Sanchez, but Wolves held on, Nuno Espirito Santo successfully frustrating his “inspiration” Jose [email protected] pic.twitter.com/OFFDisQFHG — Wolves (@Wolves) September 22, 2018  What it means: Lukaku’s supporting cast lacking craft Romelu Lukaku endured a difficult outing on Saturday, with the supply to him generally poor.Pogba looked the most likely to create chances for him, but otherwise United’s attacking players were disappointing, with Sanchez and Jesse Lingard particularly ineffective.But, to be fair to Sanchez and Lingard, neither would consider themselves to be natural wingers, yet Mourinho persists with them on the flanks. Selfless Jimenez leads from the front He may not have got on the scoresheet, but Jimenez made a real impact in attack for the visitors. His hold-up play was excellent, as shown when setting up Moutinho, he dropped deep to good effect and even his runs in behind troubled United. His former Benfica colleague Victor Lindelof had a difficult day. Sanchez produces little spark once again United’s Chile forward certainly cannot be accused of not trying but his passing was sloppy and he made little impact in the final third. You have to wonder how long Mourinho will continue to play him out wide. Key Opta Facts6 – Man Utd have dropped six points from seven Premier League games at Old Trafford against newly-promoted opposition under Jose Mourinho; more than the Red Devils had dropped in 10 seasons in the top-flight between 2006-07 and 2015-16 (5 pts). Glum. pic.twitter.com/LdIogg0eRP— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 22, 2018- Wolves have avoided defeat at Old Trafford against Man Utd in all competitions for the first time since November 1980, stopping a run of eight successive losses.- Fred is the 500th different player to score a competitive goal for Man Utd (excluding own goals).- Paul Pogba has been directly involved in six goals in his seven starts in all competitions for Man Utd this season (4 goals, 2 assists). What’s next? After an EFL Cup date with Frank Lampard’s Derby County on Tuesday, United’s next Premier League outing sees them travel to West Ham. Wolves host Leicester City in the cup, before then welcoming Southampton to Molineux in the league. read morelast_img read more

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