The English Premier League season may only be a handful of games old, but the same problems seem to have resurfaced at Manchester United.
Former Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho was accused of being too negative and defensive by fans who remain wrapped up in the free-scoring days of Sir Alex Ferguson. A demanding bunch, those loyal to the Old Trafford cause don’t just want three points every weekend, but to see their team to ooze class and play the best, most attractive and eye-catching football in the league when earning them.
Will Man Utd end their wait for a trophy or will it be another difficult season for their suffering support? You can profit from their success – or misery – by predicting markets and bets for teams involved in the title race.
Man Utd have scored fewer goals than Norwich
After five games in, Manchester United can be found sitting fourth in the table. Holding their ground and ending in the top four, forcing the return of Champions League football, is a priority this season but everyone connected to the club will aim higher. In doing so they will be dismayed to see early pace setters and long-term bitter rivals Liverpool are already seven points off in the distance. Now, it’s still very early in the season – far too early to be reaching for the panic button – but the current table and betting suggests Man Utd won’t go close to winning the league this time.
That leaves them chasing the consolation of a top four finish, a run in both domestic cup competitions as well as a strong effort in Europe. To have any chance of winning silverware this season the Red Devils must build on their strong defence – boasting Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka – while improving their attack. After five games the season stats show United have conceded only four but scored just eight. That makes them the joint best defence in the English top tier, but they currently rank below the likes of Norwich City, Chelsea and Tottenham for goals scored. To put it into perspective at this stage, United have managed seven fewer goals that high-flying Liverpool.
To make matters worse, a closer look at the form of Man Utd shows, other than the four goals scored against Chelsea at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season, they have registered no more than a goal a game. Included in that list is the 1-0 home win managed against Leicester City on Saturday. Rashford rifled home from the penalty spot inside eight minutes that day and the bulk of those in attendance believed the floodgates would then swing open and Brendan Rodgers’ side would sink without a trace. Despite the victors finishing that match with 10 shots at goal, only half were on target and that one goal remained the difference at the final whistle.
Finding a way to win ugly
United were left clinging on for the points at times and had to defend for long periods of the second half but they got the result and fans seemed happy enough to be winning ugly. They will get used to it too if that proves the difference between a place in next season’s Champions League or another Europa League campaign.
Star striker Marcus Rashford finally appears to be the solution to his team’s search for a reliable goal scorer, although he did take his time about it. Rashford started the season on a high note, scoring twice in that 4-0 rout of Chelsea, and he is now the club’s joint leading scorer on three goals from six shots on target.
A tally of three places Rashford on a par with Daniel James who has proven to be a real find for the club. The 21-year-old winger came through the ranks of Swansea and Wales before swapping to Old Trafford and taking his chance under Solskjaer. He already has six caps on his record and has provided two goals. There’s a lot of hype about the young man and James seems to follow in the footsteps of Bale and Giggs on the Welsh team. He is expected to have a big future in the sport and fans will hope he can continue to improve and progress.
Another man who will be crucial to any success Manchester United enjoy this season is Paul Pogba. He often makes headlines for all the wrong reasons but if he was to return to his best from then this Man Utd team would be all the better for it. Rumours suggest he wants to leave the club and that has seen him criticised by fans, former players and TV pundits, but in the meantime, he has a job to do and will be expected to remain professional. The best way to put himself in the shop window and earn a big money move elsewhere is by scoring goals on the big stage.