The 2019/20 season of the Premier League has just begun and we’re already witnessing a massive roller-coaster ride from Manchester United! From a glorious 4-0 win over Chelsea in their opening game, to a hard-fought game against Wolverhampton Wanderers that ended in a 1-1 draw, then crashing down to a frustrating 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace and another annoying 1-1 draw against Southampton.
All this shows that this Premier League season promises to be nail-biting and unpredictable! Manchester United, in particular, seems to be erratic in their performances.
After analyzing the individual performances of each player across the past 4 Premier League matches, it is certain that some players simply aren’t performing upto their potential.
1. Jesse Lingard
Jesse Lingard has NO goals or assists in the entirety of the year 2019. Yes that’s right, not just the 2019/20 season, but whole of the year 2019. This has no doubt made it highly questionable why he remains a starter for the Red Devils. Lingard could even be described aptly as a “one-month wonder.” The ONLY month in which Lingard scored his 4 goals and assisted twice was December last year i.e. 2018.
Did Jesse Lingard score or assist a PL goal?
May 2018: no
Aug 2018: no
Sep 2018: no
Oct 2018: no
Nov 2018: no
Dec 2018: YES (4G 2A)
Jan 2019: no
Feb 2019: no
Mar 2019: no
Apr 2019: no
May 2019: no
Aug 2019: no pic.twitter.com/YGP1XOAIOg
— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) August 19, 2019
On the other hand, it must be noted that he did have the best pass completion rate in the match against Wolves at the Molineux, despite not creating a single scoring opportunity or taking a single shot on goal. Perhaps, Solskjaer is keeping Lingard on as a starter because of his ability to retain possession, very similar to that of Paul Scholes.
However, looking at the current stage of rebuilding and transition Manchester United is in, Lingard has no choice but to step up his attacking contributions. If Lingard is to continue starting in the upcoming matches, he must either drop down a line and play as a holding midfielder or begin creating goal scoring opportunities for the team as the primary attacking midfielder.
2. Harry Maguire
Harry Maguire went down in history as the world’s most expensive defender, after completing a move from Leicester City to Manchester United. As Van Dijk rightly warned Maguire:
“The price comes with pressure.”
The main reason Maguire was purchased was to help replace the infamously critiqued duo of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, arguably primarily responsible for Manchester United’s disorganised defence last season. Moreover, Maguire is a player who has a significant commanding presence on the pitch. As such, he is expected to lead and organise the defensive line.
While Maguire’s performance against Chelsea was phenomenal, his performance against Crystal Palace was disappointing, to say the least. Jordan Ayew’s goal could have been prevented if Maguire had helped Lindelof by providing effective cover behind him, a simple rule of defending.
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) August 25, 2019
In addition to this, the Manchester United defence seemed even more frantic in the dying minutes, leading to the late Van Aanholt winner. What makes the scoreline of this particular match even more frustrating is the fact that it can mainly be attributed towards defensive sloppiness, seeing that United has 17 more shots than Palace, 72% of the possession and more than double the number of passes.
In all fairness, Maguire has proved his mettle as a defender to be reckoned with. His smooth transition to the United squad’s playing style must also be praised. All that he has to work on at this point is being the player who organises the defensive line.
3. Paul Pogba
As pundit Charlie Nicholas put it,
“Pogba has started playing deep again and forgotten where he wants to play.”
Of course, he put in an exceptional performance against Chelsea, leaving the pitch with 2 assists. Against Wolves, Pogba missed a crucial (and rather controversial) penalty. Against Palace, he put in a very unsatisfactory performance and same against Southampton.
It seems hard to disagree with Nicholas, as we witness Pogba trying out different roles in each of the matches. What does seem pretty consistent is that Pogba often gives away the ball to the opposition in disappointing ways.
Three Clear alternatives To Jesse Lingard For The No.10 role At Manchester United Who Could Completely Change The Team Dynamic
Looking at the midfield area of the squad in general, there seems to be some friction between McTominay and Pogba, making it harder for United when it comes to transition of the ball from the defensive third to the attacking third.
Paul Pogba has no choice but to step up and play one solid position – preferably attacking midfielder. He was the top scorer for United last season and could effectively contribute to many more goals this season, if played in the right way by Solskjaer.
As the saying goes, “A team is only as good as its weakest link”. The current squad no doubt has the ability to finish top 4 – as long as all these players step up and play the pivotal roles that belong to them.