The opening weekend’s five-goal thrashing of Leeds United underlined Manchester United as one of the contenders to Manchester City’s Premier League throne. Two points dropped against Southampton in the following matchweek had all the signs of just why they will yet again struggle to sustain a serious title challenge.
City bounced back from the defeat at Tottenham Hotspur with a 5-0 win over Norwich City, while both Liverpool and Chelsea made it two in two games.
The trio of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, and Thomas Tuchel – are equal favourites to win the league – and have one thing in common. They all possess a much more complete lineup than what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is working with at Carrington.
The performance at the St. Mary’s had glaring issues from last campaign. Anthony Martial was underwhelming in the middle, there was no attacking threat from the right-side, and a midfield that cannot maintain possession under pressure to save its life.
The first two issues will be fixed as the season progresses. Edinson Cavani will be available soon, and Jadon Sancho will only get better with more minutes and improve United’s right-flank.
The midfield, however, has become even thinner with Paul Pogba cementing his place further up the pitch. Scott McTominay and Fred seem to only click as ‘McFred’ pivot and either falter when partnered with the ageing Nemanja Matic. Donny van de Beek has been an unused sub in both matches.
With the transfer window entering its last week, decision-makers at Old Trafford need to make a swift move for a new midfielder now rather than making Solskjaer wait another 12 months, akin to Sancho, to address the obvious hole in the squad.
Declan Rice transfer is unlikely to materialise at this stage of the window, although West Ham’s pursuit of Jesse Lingard does provide a glimmer of hope.
Regardless, it shouldn’t be very tough to upgrade on the club’s current midfield options, with the likes of Ruben Neves and Eduardo Camavinga both offering a viable option. If the club is ready to spend, a midfielder capable of starring under pressure and progressing the play ought not to be impossible to find at the climax of this summer.
Raphael Varane is yet to make his debut, and alongside Jadon Sancho, will boost the quality at United, but these so called statements signing only more or less cement the Red Devils place in the top 4. Whether they genuinely push their rivals for the summit or not will be decided by their business in the last week of the transfer window.