The Europa League debut of Jose Mourinho did not go as well as he would have wanted. Manchester United lost out to Feyenoord in the first group game of the competition. The 1-0 loss was tough to take as the Premier League side barely threatened the Dutch heavyweights.
Jose Mourinho wanted his side to play football against the Eredivisie team but what United did was basically defend for most of the first half. The United team did play Paul Pogba in the famed number 10 role but the Frenchman was poor in this attacking role for the team.
Manchester United did have 18 shots on goal but only four were on target. Not only that; there was a lack of urgency in the team and Mourinho did make all three substitutions in the second half at the same time.
Not that it helped Manchester United a lot, though. Marcus Rashford, Martial and even Paul Pogba looked extremely off colour and all the talk about playing attacking football went down the drain. This was a United side that seemed to be a couple of gears down and the blame can only fall on the shoulders of Jose Mourinho.
Playing the likes of Rashford and Anthony Martial in the team should have led to more quick attacks and a real urgency in the side. Both players did not start the game against Manchester City last weekend and it certainly was a surprise as to why they were not willing to take up their chance in the first team.
The lack of an attacking outlet led Mourinho to bring Zlatan Ibrahimovic but even the Swede was unable to do much for the side. If anyone is to be blamed for this loss, it has to fall on the shoulders of the manager.
Mourinho is known for playing a rather pragmatic style of football and it looked like the Red Devils had come to Holland to come out with a draw. They might have looked like a better side on paper but they were woeful in the attack.
This made it two defeats in two games for the Red Devils and this was not the kind of result Mourinho would have expected. While United did make a comeback in the game against City, this time around they were bereft of ideas to take on the Dutch side.
It does seem that it is back to the drawing board for Mourinho as he looks to rejig his tactics for the side but it just is not working for Manchester United.
Man United keen on signing 2 players on loan to replace Marcus Rashford
Manchester United keen to loan Odion Ighalo and Islam Slimani
Manchester United are keen on signing Odion Ighalo and Islam Slimani on loan to provide cover for the injured Marcus Rashford. (h/t Sky Sports)
Ighalo plays for Shanghai Shenhua in the Chinese Super League while Slimani is currently on loan at Monaco from Leicester City.
Both players have done well for their current clubs so far. Ighalo has scored 10 goals in 19 appearances for Shanghai whereas Slimani has registered 7 goals and 7 assists in 14 appearances for Monaco.
Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa are also interested in Slimani (h/t Daily Star).
Ighalo has a better record out of the two in the Premier League. With the Chinese Super League likely to be indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus epidemic gripping the nation, it remains to be seen if the player will be allowed to travel.
Low-key but effective?
The injury to Marcus Rashford has left United without a reliable striker upfront. United have played both Liverpool and Burnley since the striker’s injury and have failed to hit the net in both games.
Given the nature of the January transfer window, it makes sense for the club to pursue a loan deal for an established forward until the summer.
Ighalo and Slimani are in their 30s but both players are physically imposing and are capable of playing as a target man upfront.
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United are currently 5th in the table with 14 games left to go. We face Chelsea in the league in February, which will give us a chance to close the gap on a top-four spot.
Man United keen on landing Ligue 1 star for a fee of about £43million
Manchester United prepare £43 million bid for Moussa Dembele
Manchester United are interested in Lyon striker Moussa Dembele (h/t Mirror)
The 23-year old has enjoyed a stellar season for Lyon and has scored 15 goals and 1 assist in 28 appearances. (h/t Whoscored)
Dembele is expected to cost in the region of £43 and is also drawing interest from Chelsea.
The Red Devils had failed to replace the outgoing Romelu Lukaku in the summer and were extremely reliant on the young Rashford for goals.
Rashford has scored 19 goals and 5 assists this season. He is the club’s top scorer and the second top assist maker. United have lacked a cutting edge in the Englishman’s absence and had been playing through injury of late.
Solksjaer was forced to bring on the striker against Wolves which unfortunately led to worsening the extent of his injury.
United currently lack a clinical player upfront. The result against Liverpool could have been different had Martial taken the chances afforded to him.
Lack of a plan?
United should have gone for a striker immediately after the signing of Lukaku. Rashford has had to play through injury and now finds himself out for 3 months.
The injury could also affect the youngster’s chances of making the England squad for the Euros. Rashford has made 201 appearances for United by the age of 22 and needs to be handled better to prevent him from burning out.
Prodigious youngsters such as Robbie Fowler and Micheal Own never got to reach the levels expected of them as they were burnt out and beset by injuries.
Dembele is an excellent player who will be an asset to United. But considering the position the club is in, it can be considered to be a step back for the Frenchman if he joins them.
The fact that the clubs has been linked to the player only after Rashford’s injury and not in spite of it reeks of a lack of long term planning.
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Dembele already has experience of playing in England for Fulham and Celtic. The 23-year old made 64 appearances for Fulham,with 2 of them coming in the English Premier League.
Man Utd to look at alternatives after refusing to sign this £68.24m star
Manchester United look at alternatives for Bruno Fernandes
Manchester United are looking at alternatives for Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes. (h/t Manchester Evening News)
Fernandes has been linked with a move to the Red Devils since last summer and appeared to be in a strong position to sign the player in the January transfer window.
But the club now seem to have backed out of a deal citing Sporting’s sudden increase in the player’s valuation to £68.24 million.
With the clubs appearing to be unable to agree on a fee, United are considering Leicester City’s James Maddison and Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish as alternatives.
A better fit!
Both Maddison and Grealish have been critical to their team’s fortunes this season at different ends of the table. It can be argued that either of them would represent a better fit for the United midfield than Fernandes.
Maddison has been one of the Leicester’s stars as they push for Champions League qualification whereas Villa would be 4 points worse off at 19th if not for Grealish’s goals.
Both the players have experience of playing in the English top-flight and will not need a bedding-in period.
Fernandes does have better numbers than either of the player. But then Grealish and Maddison have performed at a higher level in the English Premier League.
Paying over the odds will not help United in the long term. It sets a precedent with other clubs likely to hold them for ransom.
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The 2-0 loss to Liverpool highlighted the gulf in quality that now exists between United and the Premier League elite.
A massive rebuild is required in the coming windows as the Red Devils look to close the gap to their arch-rivals. Rather than overspending on foreign players who present an element of risk, United can look at domestic alternatives. As Liverpool have shown of late, there is quality available if you are willing to look for it.
Man United keen to reinforce midfield with this 24-year-old La Liga ace
Manchester United are keen on signing Marcos Llorente
Manchester United are keen on reinforcing their midfield by signing Spanish midfielder Marcos Llorente. (h/t Manchester Evening News)
The 24-year-old who plays for Atletico Madrid has impressed at the Wanda Metropolitano following his move from city rivals Real Madrid.
Llorente has made 17 appearances for Atletico this season , with a majority of them coming off the bench.(h/t Whoscored)
Having started just 3 La Liga matches this season, a loan move to United could be of interest to both parties.
The Red Devils are currently short of players in midfield after the injuries to Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay.
Llorente is an assured passer of the ball and can play in central midfield in both a defensive and a holding role.
He is also an aggressive ball winner and will add much-needed energy in the United midfield. At 6 feet tall, Llorente is also an imposing presence who can deal with the physical aspect of the Premier League.
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The Spaniard came through the Real Madrid academy and has made 22 appearances for the Los Blancos.
He was a part of the Real Madrid squad that won the UEFA Champions League in 2018.