Steadying the Ship
United started with a draw against Arsenal at home. Probably a fair result but the gunners were there for the taking.Illustrates how important it is for key players like Pogba and Martial to be present to exploit such draws into wins.Then held on against Alkmaar before going down in a sorry heap against Newcastle. A fighting performance against Liverpool displayed heart and courage but the draw underlined the need for better game management and squad management. Although United drew twice against top 6 opponents, both of them felt like two points lost rather than one saved, especially being home games. The victories at Partizan, Norwich and Chelsea have extinguished the ‘Away form‘ fires. The Red Devils are now seventh in the league table and atop the Europa League group, just a win away from confirming a spot in the next round. Recent win against Chelsea sees us hosting a Quarter Final of the Carabao Cup.
October Form :
Premier League – DLDW
Europa League – DW
Carabao Cup – W
Rise of Brandon Williams
Since Patrice Evra had left United, the left back position was never quite owned by a fitting character. Without being guilty of putting the horse before the cart, a certain 53 numbered Williams has portrayed the possession of necessary set of skills in his performances throughout October. Coming in for his full debut against AZ Alkmaar he was instrumental in keeping a clean sheet. Although he did come on as a last minute substitute against Liverpool in the league, his best performance came against Partizan where he produced a man of the match effort winning the penalty which saw Martial score the match winner. He put on a brilliant display against Chelsea in the Carabao cup too and is not far from featuring in the Premier League one would think.
He’s adaptable to both 3-5-2 and 4-2-3-1 with the former providing him additional cushion to carry on forward frequently. He’s a bright and energetic young prospect. He is not far from making the position his own with detriment ridden Luke Shaw and constant commendations from the manager. Williams has also featured on the bench in every other game this month.
Establishment of Scott Mctominay
Eyebrows were raised big time when the Jose Mourinho virtually created a whole new Manager’s Young Player of the Year award to hand it over to Scott McTominay just because he didn’t want him to go home empty handed. Just two months into the new season, he’s just been named United’s Player of the Month. He’s had pretty big void to fill in midfield in the absence of Paul Pogba and the dry run of performances United were going through. In this time, he’s responsibly featured in 5/6 games and scored two crucial goals including the cracker against Arsenal.
The Scotsman is racking up some serious stats on the passing and intercepting fronts. He’s been doing so well that his confidence seems to be rubbing off on Fred who looked out of depth until recently. Since Pogba and Matic have been injured, Fred and McTominay have had to screen the midfield and the Fred owes his mate big time for giving him much needed bost and cushion to play himself in. Similar effect could be the case for Pereira when playing in 10.
Scott’s performances illustrate a big character, a fearless leader and consistent performer in him. Also being a fan favourite has seriously risen his stock.
Busy Treatment Room
Paul Pogba has been out since after the draw against Arsenal. The team needs its star midfielder but his absence on the pitch and lack of clarity on the injury only fuels the rumours of exit more. A string of mediocre results also seems to give voice to opinions suggesting maybe this is a team that can learn to play without the French world cup winner.
Injury has also halted the progress of Tuanzebe who put in cruise control performances before being ruled out of Liverpool clash due to a hip strain. Still remains to be seen as to how long he will be out for but Lindelof and Rojo are surely looking over their shoulders.
It’s been yet another horror month for Luke Shaw with a grand total of 0 appearances and his time surely seems to be coming to an end with the meteoric rise of Williams and transfer window round the corner.
Nemanja Matic’s fate looks to have a similar writing with the Serbian falling out of favour, courtesy his age, his pace, Scott his untimely injury woes and McTominay coming of age.
Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu Mensah remain long time absentees continuing rehabilitation and should be available around December.
Marcos Rojo benefited thanks to the injury list, he’s made his way consistently into matchday squads with a few decent performances.
Gomes, Greenwood and Chong
Long injury lists and major youth centric approach has seen the likes of Williams make major inroads into the first team. However, the above mentioned trio had failed to make it in October.
Mason Greenwood was regarded as one of the finest finishers in Ole’s own words. Despite a few minor niggles, the ambidextrous finisher failed to nail down a spot at least in cup competitions. Let’s hope it is a case of the process taking its own time more than anything else for he comes highly regarded by everybody involved around.
Angel Gomes comes with fairly higher regard than his compatriot Chong. Although the latter seems to have found himself in the thick of the action too soon, with a paper thin squad and midweek cup fixtures, it’s still curious to see full of potential young players not featuring even in matchday squads after not being loaned out.
The Martial Factor
Stats suggest that Ole has won 77% of his games when Martial is involved and his performances clearly illustrate why. He has a massive impact whenever he plays but his absence comes at a very heavy cost often in points. With only 2 starts in 6 games (missed Arsenal and most of Liverpool), he needs work on his fitness and consistency. His two starts however yielded two goals suggesting how crucial he is to the team and also Marcus Rashford. Rashford is more comfortable on the left and can only play there if the Frenchman is fit. A sustainable partnership of the young duo will determine how far up United can climb up in the league and its fate in other cup competitions.
Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire remain the consistent key performers.The performances are getting better, the fixtures are getting tighter and the injury lists longer. Rumours of a Saudi takeover and numerous players being linked with the transfer window looming is what welcomes the team into a hugely critical November apart from the usual football.