I’ve always said that the two in midfield for Manchester United are not good enough. I got persecuted by United fans, who were calling me bitter and all sorts. But just look at Scott McTominay – he’s adequate, but you don’t win major trophies with him in your team. You just don’t.
When you watch him in the big games you can see how limited he is, in what he does. Defensively he goes around and does a job. But when you’re looking for that little bit more, that extra bit that you need at one of the big boys, he doesn’t have that. When he’s having to think about what he’s doing next in the big matches he doesn’t have it, and when things don’t go well for him early in games then he struggles to recover from that.
The same’s true of Fred. The pair of them do a job, but together they don’t offer enough.
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If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to play this system still then he needs to bring in another two midfield players probably. Maybe just the one at a push, if he plays Paul Pogba in the middle with a-another, but he should still be looking to bring in someone else who is a little bit more creative as well, because they’ve only got one midfield player in there who can create.
For me, if he’s going to look for somebody who can do a job week-in and week-out, somebody who can be a defensive midfielder and break play up, but who can also get forward into the final third and be progressive and positive, then you go and get Declan Rice. He’s the player United need to be going out to get.

United need a ball-playing defender

The other area that needs strengthening is centre-half, I think he has to look at somebody else in there, somebody who has a bit more about them.
United need a defender who can link a little bit, and against Liverpool you could see how slow they are at the back and then how laboured they are with the ball.
At times it took them 15 minutes to get out of their own half with the ball, that needs changing, and a new signing for Ole would help that.

Manchester United Head Coach / Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks on prior to the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on May 2, 2021 in Manchester, United Kingdom

Image credit: Getty Images

Solskjaer gets judged more harshly

I think if Ole finishes second and wins the Europa then you can definitely say that the season will have been successful. The only problem is that the critics out there, and I include the majority of the media in that, in certain ways don’t believe that he should be managing Manchester United.
So if he was to lose a final, his first ever final, and it’s a European one, then I think he’d be persecuted for that and everyone will be writing up stories like “is he good enough for the job” and “is he ever going to win the league for United”, all that will be coming out.
But if he does win the Europa League then it won’t be talked about, it’ll be “it’s just the Europa”. I think he knows that though, he knows he’s not on a level playing field, he always having to try harder.
He was judged against Lampard when he was at Chelsea and then against Arteta at Arsenal, but at the end of the day he’s had a much better season than those two, but nobody will really talk about that.

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Emery will make Europa final a big test

It’s not going to be easy for United in the final, they are up against the master of it in Emery. He does know how to win that trophy, as the cliché goes.
He’s shown that it wasn’t all about Sevilla, he’s gone and taken a team who weren’t doing that well all the way to the final. He really knows what he’s doing. Villarreal weren’t great at times against Arsenal, but he knows how to get through. So it’s not going to be easy for United.
Unless they kick on it’s going to be even harder to be honest, because the last two performances haven’t been good enough. You can’t go into a European final on the back of a poor run of form and expect to be at your best.
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