As Aaron Rodgers said to the Packer faithful once upon a time, “R E L A X. Relax, we’re goona be alright”. There is no need to panic right now. I’ve had my fill of podcasts and recaps since the disappointing draw with Southampton on Sunday. What I’ve heard is a lot about this is the “same old United“, “Ole can’t cut it”, “the squad is far too inconsistent” and so on. But, let’s take a step back for just a moment.
Last season, United started out in dismal form and went on to finish second. Manchester City also startered terribly last season, oh and this season, but went on to win the title last year. Teams typically don’t find their proper form this early in the season. Not to mention there are several key players yet to return for Manchester United. So, let’s all take a deep breath and realize we crushed Leeds in week 1 and showed some resiliency in a 1-1 draw with a good club in Southampton away.
RELAX – Bright Spots
Manchester United went into St. Mary’s, to play a tough Southampton side, playing in front of their home fans for the first time since early 2020. The Red Devils controlled most of the game with 64% of the possession and outshot the home team 15-8. There were several chances missed by United that on any other day would’ve been finished. This is part of playing in the Premier League, having to find a way to still grab points when it’s not your day and you’re away from home. There were some sloppy plays throughout the match, but also some brilliant play that more often than not would lead to goals.
Paul Pogba was also absolutely brilliant once again. Pogba really should’ve grabbed united the lead with his chance just a little into the second half. Pogba also set up the equalizer for Greenwood and showed a real tenacity and passion to win. I believe this is the year of Paul Pogba. And his form will only rub off on others. Expect to see Bruno at his sparkling best more often than not this year. And, look for Greenwood to establish himself as a legitimate number 9 this season.
Lasty, let’s talk about Mason Greenwood. The young english kid is looking more and more like a world beater at the number 9 position. Although he began the day on the right, I think he continues to show why he is the ideal number 9. Not only did he find a way to score once again, but showed some great link up play with others. I also thought his missed header late on only showed his potential. Although, he missed the chance, Greenwood showed the ability to get up and beat defenders in the box and deliver a great chance. The lad is only 19 years old, and will surely only improve his heading. I expect big things from Greenwood. There are so many positives to take away from this match, even if it finished off disappointingly.
RELAX – What Must be Done Now?
Alright, I’m not going to discuss much in the way of negatives but there are some things that need to be said. Manchester United clearly needs another midfielder, particularly a CDM. There is still time in the transfer window and we need to sign a CDM to kick on and win the title. There is a chance we’ll be in the race either way, but the signing of a CDM would change the season outlook completely.
Fred and Matic just simply did not work this past weekend, and the absence of McTominay was even more confusing. McFred has worked many times before, but it’s not the answer for United. I do believe McTominay started on the bench due to receiving a knock on the opening day. Although, why Matic over VDB? Donny needs to be given a chance from the get go. Perhaps he is just awful in training. But, if United don’t sign a new CDM then we have to take a serious look at the Dutchmen.
I still think signing Saul Niguez is likely, but prefer a player like Ruben Neves. Both players would make this team better though. News was also released today that United are willing to offer Lingard plus cash to West Ham for Declan Rice. I did not think Rice would leave the Hammers this summer, but with an offer like that I’m not sure West Ham could turn United down. Especially, when Rice has yet to sing a new contract with the club.
Batter Wolves and We’re back on Top
Manchester United play Wolves this next Sunday, just before the first international break. If United can put on a stellar performance away to Wolves they can cure all of our aliments. Heading into the international break with 7 points, and two big wins to start the season is not a bad way to kick off the campaign. We could look back on this match in 7 to 8 weeks time as nothing more than the typical “finding of your feet” match to start a campaign. We may have lost and had some sloppy plays, but United played well and got a well earned point. On to Wolves!