Whilst Ole’s hand has been forced in some regards, due to injuries spreading around the squad like a modern-day plague, some of his decisions have still been perplexing the fans. The over-reliance on Paul Pogba for creativity shifted onto Juan Mata against West Ham, in Pogba’s absence, leading to our sole creator being marked out of the game once again, with Matic and Mctominay behind, offering little in the way of forward passes and chance creation. Now to dismiss these individual players as poor is not my aim, however, having two defensively oriented players with little creativity, leading to creation only coming from one player, is extremely Naïve from Ole.
Solskjaer subbed Fred on in the 71st minute, creating twice as many chances as Mctominay, and with the creative burden off his shoulders, Juan Mata started to improve as well, freeing up some of the attacking potential of the team, it’s hard to see Ole’s logic in not starting the Brazilian centre-midfielder.
Squad Quality and Depth
Ole has resorted to playing Andreas Pereira on the wing, and without necessarily impressing in his natural role, he’s has offered even less in his new position. United are clearly crying out for a natural right winger, and talk of Jadon Sancho is mouth-watering, yet given our current situation, it feels increasingly unlikely we’ll see him in a red shirt. Also, regardless of performance, it’s frustrating to see our second-choice options consist of players the wrong side of 30, such as Matic, Mata and Young, with them being relied on when they are not in form and in their natural decline.
Over-Reliance On Youth?
Whilst any Manchester United fan is happy to see a potential star in the making, yielding success stories throughout the club’s history, these youngsters have often been bled into teams with players in their prime to help support them. In our current situation these young players, with little game time previous, of a higher standard than the Under-23’s, are now being relied upon to be the key players of the team. Obviously, players need time to grow, and more game time can only help these players, but there seems to be a clear lack of senior players in their prime, to help support the youth, and get the most out of them.
With how thin the squad looks after a few injuries, and being potentially left with no strikers after Rashford’s injury in the West Ham game, the suggestions of signing an experienced back-up striker are only getting louder, with the likes of Llorente, Andy Carroll and even Zlatan being suggested. With Lingard and James eventually interchanging upfront, you can see why some fans believe a signing like this is necessary.
Looking Forward – It is a Project
Despite everything surrounding United seeming very negative at the moment, with West Ham being our second loss in six, we have to remember that we’re undergoing a long-term shift, which has been reset with every manager we’ve hired, Ole is going to need time, and the performance today shows that this is evident. The youth will only get better. The dead wood is being moved. There is potential.