Man Utd have attacking tools to win the title… but not before Solskjaer copies Klopp and makes huge change at the back

Man Utd have attacking tools to win the title… but not before Solskjaer copies Klopp and makes huge change at the back

12/26/2020

MANCHESTER UNITED provided further evidence as to why they could win the Premier League title.

But equally, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s attractive but slightly dysfunctional team proved why exactly they will not be replacing Liverpool as champions this season.

Here was the latest proof that Solskjaer must follow Jurgen Klopp’s blueprint to winning trophies.

Even when Klopp knew he possessed an irresistible front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Bobby Firmino, the Liverpool manager knew goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius had to be jettisoned out of Anfield.

The same applied to Dejan Lovren in defence.

Privately, Solskjaer – although overseeing an improvement at Old Trafford despite the stick he has been getting – must still make a couple of big calls.

Offensively, United’s strength in depth was illustrated beautifully in the 2-2 draw at Leicester.

Not just because Marcus Rashford made amends for a shocking early miss to score his 50th Premier League goal.

Despite arguably being lucky to stay on the pitch, Bruno Fernandes sprinkled more stardust over this team.

While the talented Mason Greenwood remained on the bench, Solskjaer was able to call on Edinson Cavani who, in relative terms considering his large wages, will still provide to be something of a bargain.

He will play an increasing part for United this season and they need to tie him down for next season as well.

Within seconds of being introduced in the 75th minute, the fit-again Cavani chased down Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel, blocked a poor pass out from the goalkeeper and then held off a challenge from Wesley Fofana before bringing Luke Shaw into play.

And no sooner had Cavani put himself about, he then made space for himself before to create the perfect pass for Fernandes to score what should have been the winner.

But to finish top of the table, you have to make sure you win at Leicester when leading 2-1 with 11 minutes left. And United failed to do so.

There are not many teams in the Premier League who have conceded more than United’s 23 goals this season. And none of them in the top half.

United’s defensive stats last season were pretty decent and they should have been a lot more credit for those.

But despite Solskjaer's claim yesterday that the team are paying the price for their attacking tactics, it is possible to make improvements.

Harry Maguire still needs a top defender with pace alongside him and then we get to the old chestnut of David de Gea.

He is still capable of moments of pure class but still needs to be replaced. He is still at a better level than either Mignolet or Karius when they were given the boot by Klopp.

Equally, United’s problem is that Dean Henderson is nowhere near as experienced as Alisson when he arrived on Merseyside from Roma. Equally, Henderson needs to start each week.

De Gea avoided an early disaster after he failed to clear a pass from Dan James and instead lost possession and was thankful for a stunning tackle from Fred.

After Rashford’s opener, United were made to pay for a catalogue of errors before Harvey Barnes scored.

Maguire slipped as he cleared, Fernandes was too ponderous on the ball and Scott McTominay failed to move quick enough to try and block Barnes.

And while the shot was decent enough, De Gea – not for the first time this season – was guilty of some poor footwork and was one step away from getting a hand near the effort.

With Fernandes looking to have secured a win, United were undone again by some good movement from Vardy although it took a wicked deflection off Axel Tuanzebe and De Gea was nowhere near.

Compared to last year, United are in a better place. After the same number of games, United were ninth with just 18 points, They had scored 21 times and conceded 17.

Now, United have scored 30 goals and conceded 23. United’s strengths – but also their weaknesses – have never been more obvious.

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