As Manchester United struggle to end this season in the top-four after a shockingly disappointing start, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer begins to address critical issues while his boys are on their 16-day break. The match is set to occur on the 17th of February at Stamford Bridge and already, there seem to be a few matters that need Solskjaer’s attention ASAP.
Finally, the Red Devils have realised that replacing Romelu Lukaku is the top priority. Lukaku was met with harsh criticism by United supporters, mainly due to his performance stats during the 2018-19 campaign. Previously, Lukaku scored 27 goals in 51 games during his debut campaign at the Theatre of Dreams, so naturally many were upset and frustrated at his lack of consistency.
However, upon Lukaku’s departure, Manchester United failed to sign a replacement and started the season off with just three recognised forwards: Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood. Martial and Greenwood, both underwhelming and still learning their trade, fail to provide the Red Devils with a strong attacking force. Rashford, on the other hand, is out with a severe back injury and will probably not be joining the team anytime soon.
Luckily, in the nick of time, Solskjaer and Ed Woodward were forced to do a last-minute deal on deadline day for former Watford striker Odion Ighalo, who has signed for United until the end of the season. Ighalo, although a talented striker with a great track record so far and the first Nigerian to play for United, seems to be put on the sidelines as United fans are frustrated after missing out on Erling Haaland or a striker of similar quality.
Another player on Man Utd’s shortlist is Inter’s Lautaro Martinez.
The 22-year-old has scored 16 goals in 27 games for the Nerazzurri this season and is widely regarded as one of the best young forwards in Europe. However, the Red Devils are hesitant on paying a whopping amount of £94 million that Inter are asking for.
Another prominent issue at hand appears to be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sides inability to break down opposition defences. United have failed to score in each of their last three Premier League games against Liverpool, Burnley and Wolves. United’s players are trying their luck from distance far too often and are currently top of the division for attempts from outside the penalty area with 173, which is at least 20 more than any other side.
Amidst all the tension and issues that Manchester United still have to resolve to guarantee a top-four spot, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hopeful. “[The players] have been fantastic. We’ve had to, with all the injuries we’ve had, rely on many of these to maybe play more games than they should, and they’ve been brilliant.
“Yes, we’ve had ups and downs, but it shows that we do miss the injured players so, yeah, it’ll be a nice break and I think it’s about time we had that in England. I think all teams will get their energy levels back.”
The Norwegian does have the upper hand when it comes to facing his opposite number Frank Lampard. United have beaten the Blues twice already this season, a 4-0 win on the opening weekend of the Premier League campaign and then a 2-1 success at the Bridge in the Carabao Cup back in October. Lee Sharpe, ex-England midfielder, revealed how he also has high hopes regarding Solskjaer: “He has already stressed he won’t accept less than 100% and he wants his players to be the hardest working in the Premier League.”
Manchester United have their work cut out for them. Hopefully, with the addition of Ighalo and a re-construction of their attacking strategy, they will surely find themselves in top four of this Premier League season.