Why chance creation is going to cost Manchester United dearly
Background Image Via: Flickr/Daniel. CC BY 2.0.
Manchester United are a team in transition. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going to need time, though that wasn't a luxury afforded to his predecessor. The Baby Faced Assassin made some astute summer signings, but the Norwegian is going to need more than one window to turn the Red Devils' fortunes around.
Perhaps the most glaring need is a striker who'll guarantee 20+ goals a season. However, when you delve deeper, there's a reason behind that; an alarming lack of chance being created for Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial et al.
Against Partizan Belgrade on Thursday night, the 20-time Premier League champions mustered just one shot on target. That came from the penalty spot. Some may point to Paul Pogba's absence as a contributing factor. Those people would be somewhat correct, however, the issues don't completely disappear when the mercurial Frenchman is missing.
Simply put, there doesn't seem to be a plan. The ingenuity and freedom that United played with when Solskjaer first took charge has fizzled out and it's back to the boring, dull, uninspiring stuff that the Old Trafford faithful become accustomed to under a certain Jose Mourinho. This isn't a new problem. The warning signs were there at the back end of last season which make the decision to not bring in a new midfielder all-the-more bizarre. I get that Edward Woodward and Solskjaer don't want to rush things, but at the very least, you'd hope that either Marouane Fellaini or Ander Herrera would be replaced. Neither were and that's partly why United find themselves in such a mess.
So-much-so that Paul Scholes actually called for United to potentially explore the signing of Mesut Ozil after the bore-fest that was on display last night. Things aren't that bad, are they?
Well, the 31-year-old German has his flaws but he's certainly an upgrade on Juan Mata who looks finished as a footballer. Timely reminder: United handed their Spaniard a new three-year, big-money deal just this summer and for that, you'd expect more than someone who's a nice guy...
'Creative' (and I use the term loosely) midfielder Fred hasn't kicked on as United would have expected and at this point, I'm just not sure what he's good at. The same can be said about academy graduate Andreas Pereira - and the fact that he starts big games with regularity perfectly epitomises the situation. Then you move on to Scott McTominay who's actually having himself an excellent season. He, like Nemanja Matic, aren't in the team to carve out chances. They're tasked with doing the dirty work and sitting further back.
Nor can you place the pressure on the young shoulders of James Garner and Angel Gomes. It's evident that both still have ample learning to do before they're ready for week-in-week-out first-team football at the highest level.
Solskjaer is treading a fine line and he's not the main reason as to why. This has been a problem in the making over the last few years though when you're winning it tends to take a back-seat. Results aren't going United's way right now which only further highlights the issue-at-hand.
I guess you'll have a shot at winning most matches when you're keeping clean sheets, though against the best of the best, sticking the ball in the onion bag consistently is what matters most. United just don't do that at the moment and it's a situation that has to be addressed in January.