For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it has been a very long international break. After his Manchester United side were beaten 6-1 by a formidable Tottenham team, he saw a large majority of the squad depart for international duty.
Oh, and to make matters worse, his captain and leading figure in the dressing room (Harry Maguire) saw red while away from England and left the pitch visibly distraught. As if that wasn’t enough, there were also reports of a row between Bruno Fernandes and Solskjaer during the defeat to Spurs, forcing the Portuguese to come out and deny the reports.
Bruno has hit back at recent reports / poll / Getty Images.
It’s a plus that what was said is apparently untrue, but considering the fact that Solskjaer’s men have dominated the headlines due to their extremely slow start in the early parts of the campaign, even so The need to discuss the topic will increase. The frustration of the manager.
With the squad now back together, they have their first chance to start repairing the damage when they travel to take on Newcastle on Saturday. Sure, the Red Devils desperately need to bounce back and get the three points, but the reality is that delivering on Saturday is of added importance to the team given their run of upcoming fixtures.
The game against Newcastle is a great chance not only to pick up three points, but to rediscover something close to his best form and build some much-needed confidence ahead of what can only be a brutal run of fixtures. can be described. .
United have a chance to get back to winning ways on Saturday / Alex Livesey/Getty Images
The bottom line is that when a team has scored 11 goals in just three Premier League games, lost two of their first three of the season and the captain is stuck in a mere lose/lose situation. Yes, that’s the last thing he needs. In a few days there will be a match against Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
Yet, that is exactly what lies ahead. Oh, and Neymar also sat out PSG’s last game just to make sure he was well-rested for Tuesday’s Champions League game. Next, United host Chelsea, RB Leipzig and Arsenal before traveling to Istanbul Başakşehir… and current league leaders Everton. All these games come within the space of 21 days.
As a result, United should use the game against Newcastle as a platform builder for those matches. It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t that long ago that the Red Devils went 19 games unbeaten under Solskjaer, looking strong at the back and scoring plenty of goals.
This Magpies team is there for the taking and United have all the tools to produce a convincing display at St James’ Park. Sure, Steve Bruce’s men have won two of their first four league games and conceded just five goals, but they’ve managed just eight shots on target so far – six of them into the back of the net. Find the part.
On the one hand, we can see this as remarkably effective, but in reality, it’s a bit concerning from the Magpies’ point of view. This is a team that has struggled to find the back of the net and will be looking to Alain Saint-Maximin to produce moments of magic for his side so far in 2020/21. Meanwhile, in defence, Brighton brutally exposed the backline in their 3-0 win in October.
Rashford and Greenwood have the pace and skill to cause Newcastle problems…. if United play on the front foot / James Gill – Dean House / Getty Images
The Newcastle backline just couldn’t cope with the movement and pace of Neil Maupe and Aaron Connolly, while the Seagulls were also dangerous down the flanks.
Solskjaer and his staff will know how Newcastle turn out on Saturday, it’s up to them to break them down. So far in the early stages of the campaign, much has been made – rightly – of the Red Devils’ shocking defensive displays, but on the ball, they have also been wasteful and unimaginative.
Passing has been slow, while wide players (Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood) have failed to get into games. A number of changes are expected, while Solskjaer will also benefit from switching to a 4-3-3 formation to provide more stability in midfield.
But whatever team the boss chooses and builds, United must step up the intensity and play with the freedom and confidence that saw them brush aside teams during their unbeaten run. Sure, Ollie has pointed to his pre-season lack of focus – which is true – but he’s paying the price not only for a lack of organization out of possession, but his confidence when on the ball. Also lack of
United have enough quality to expose Newcastle’s defensive frailties and can do so by playing positively and trying to take control early. A win will be the number one priority, but United should use the game as an opportunity to finally halt their poor run of form and put in a performance that will silence many critics.
The boss calls out to stay with @B_Fernandes8 , and rediscover our winning mindset before #NEWMUN ? #MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 16, 2020
The need for wins and solid displays is more than just getting back to winning ways. There is added pressure on Solskjaer’s squad to rediscover their form ahead of a potentially season-defining run of fixtures.
Sure, the Newcastle game is the ‘shortest’ of United’s next seven games – but it’s arguably one of the most important. This gives the Red Devils the perfect opportunity to lay the foundations and rediscover their mental strength to get their season back on track. If they fail to deliver on Saturday, United fans will be fearing the worst for the PSG match – you know, more than they already are.
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