I have had to change what I said at the beginning of the season, but what I said wasn’t much different to anyone else. They were a poor Manchester United that had to be sorted out. They just weren’t playing as a unit. However, the manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has sorted them out, but if they’re going to compete, they need to get a good squad together of 15 or 16 players that he can rely on.
The manager has come in and lifted the club, now the next bit is to sustain the level he has them playing at and then improve on it. He needs to kick on and make sure United are competing in that top four to then build towards competing for the league too. There’s no dropping out of the top four now.
A lot of the players have been the same players that were there under the previous two managers, yet Solskjaer has consistently got performances out of them. For example, he’s got the best out of Nemanja Matic - he’s now one of the key players in that midfield. The midfield three are very important to United at this moment in time.
However, Bruno Fernandes’ impact is immeasurable. United have been a completely different team with him; even when he has had fatigue - which you’d expect - he’s enhanced and improved other players’ performances just by being on the pitch.
Jadon Sancho would represent a decent signing, but it will be expensive and United need at least one good centre-half and probably a striker too because you can’t rely on Anthony Martial. When things are going well with Martial it’s fine, but when things aren’t you worry about whether he’s going to put himself or the team first. Solskjaer has done better than other managers have with him, but I still see Martial as the type of player who wants to operate out wide and come into the middle.
However, their most pressing priority is a centre half. Manchester City seemingly pipped United to sign Nathan Ake for £40million and that is good business particularly in comparison to what was paid for Harry Maguire.
United ready for the Europa
At the start of the season United looked like a cup team and they could still win the Europa League.
In Europe’s secondary competition, you have to look at some of those sides’ performances post-lockdown. Inter Milan have had a good season - they’ve pushed Juventus all the way, so you have to say they’re decent. The fact they’ve got some former United players there too adds a little bit more spice if they come across each other later on in the competition.
It’s a tough competition to win now, particularly now it is like an international tournament with one-legged ties. When it starts there are teams popping up from everywhere and being dragged all over Europe, so there’s not much exciting about it. But now when it gets to this stage there’s a lot more appeal, especially for teams looking to go on and win it because there’s Champions League football on offer. That makes it a desirable competition.
There’s more credibility in it now because of the level of the teams and the fact there’s going to be one-off games will add even more edge. It’s a good time to go and win this competition - a bonus for United now because they’re in the Champions League already.