Ten Hag, Rodgers, Solskjaer: Four things any Manchester United manager needs to solve – Richard Fay


There can be no ignoring the current issues at Manchester United but as things stand the club are sticking behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer amid intense pressure on the manager.

Solskjaer was already facing calls to be sacked prior to the dire derby day defeat at the weekend though it looks like he’ll get another game at least to prove he is still the man to lead United forward.

Brendan Rodgers, Mauricio Pochettino, Erik Ten Hag and Ralf Rangnick are amongst the names being hotly linked with the managerial position should a change be made, though regardless of what happens they would all have the same list of problems to solve.

Even if Solskjaer is to remain in charge there is an obvious to-do list which needs taking care of in the weeks and months ahead.

A winning formula

United’s biggest challenge will be turning around their recent poor form and finding an immediate uplift in results on the pitch.

No matter who takes charge of United for their next game against Watford a dominating display will be needed with United expected to play on the front foot and convincingly win the encounter.

It feels a lot like the Cardiff match which started Solskjaer’s reign as caretaker boss as United triumphed 5-1 away from home and immediately looked like a new side after a change of manager.

A fresh appointment could bring a similar lift on the field but if Solskjaer is still in charge then an upturn in form might come by embracing United’s own attacking talents and switching to the 4-3-3 formation he wanted to use in pre-season.



Jesse Lingard and Manchester United teammates celebrate against Cardiff City

Paul Pogba contract

Paul Pogba has already left United once before on a free transfer and the club are keen to ensure they don’t repeat the embarrassment when his current deal expires next summer.

Solskjaer has been keen to keep the French midfielder at Old Trafford but his recent drop in form can’t be ignored as we near the January transfer window.

Pogba, 28, will be free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs in the New Year and doubts over his long-term future are continuing to undermine the club.

Whoever is in charge needs to make a firm decision sooner rather than later on Pogba and a precedent needs to be set that no player is bigger than the club.

Solving the midfield issue

United have quality midfielders at their disposal but have struggled to ever find balance under Solskjaer with an effective selection which can be relied upon in most matches.

Their best run of form came as part of Project Restart with a midfield trio of Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Nemanja Matic but they currently lack a standout defensive midfielder who can be relied upon to fill the anchor role on a regular basis.

A huge task will be to find a short-term solution to see United through until January at least before looking to reinforce the weakness with a new signing.

It is clear that United have the resources to offer something more in midfield immediately but in the long-term it is hard to argue against signing a specialist defensive option.



Fringe player futures

A pressing background issue is the future of a number of fringe players at the club with the likes of Jesse Lingard, Dean Henderson and Donny van de Beek all struggling for game time.

United boast an enviable level of squad depth but their current system isn’t utilising those players in the best manner and it is quite clear something needs to change.

Throw into the mix players like Phil Jones, Diogo Dalot and Eric Bailly and there is even more of an issue to solve given there are so many players who rarely even make it onto the bench these days.

After only one permanent sale in the summer transfer window this is an area of improvement which is needed by whoever is at the helm heading into the New Year.





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