Man United’s struggles
Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United in 2013, they have never really been able to replicate the form that the club’s fans became so accustomed to under the Scotsman.
Instead, the past six or so years have been spent with Man United splashing big money on players and managers, and getting fairly average results.
Whether it be to do with the board or the managers themselves, United are now in a position where they are seriously struggling to even crack the top six in the Premier League.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did look as though he could have been Man United’s savior.
When the Norwegian first took the reins at Old Trafford, United went 12 Premier League games unbeaten.
The stats behind Man United’s dismal form
However, reality soon set in, and now, since OGS was permanently appointed Man United gaffer, the Red Devils have amassed just 17 points from 16 PL outings.
17 – Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed permanently on March 28th, Manchester United have won just 17 points in 16 @premierleague matches (W4 D5 L7), the fourth-worst tally among the 17 ever-present teams in that time. Wheel. pic.twitter.com/cbd1OYGNv6
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 6, 2019
Manchester United have also picked up just nine points from their opening eight Premier League fixtures this campaign, which is their worst start to a league season since 1989-90.
9 – Manchester United have picked up just nine points from their opening eight Premier League matches this season (W2 D3 L3), their worst start to a league season since 1989-90 (8 points) when they went on to finish 13th. Worrying. pic.twitter.com/oV2kDjRkri
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 6, 2019
The Red Devils are also winless in their last 11 away games across all competitions.
This stat was posted by Opta prior to Man United’s 1-0 loss to Newcastle at St James’ Park last weekend:
10 – Manchester United have failed to win any of their last 10 away matches across all competitions (D4 L6) – they last went on a longer winless run on the road between February and September 1989 (run of 11). Worrying. pic.twitter.com/doznd0WEp9
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 3, 2019
Man United need a clear-out
So, given that United have tried in the past to just paper over the cracks by signing big-name stars, and hoping everything else falls into place, what they probably need to do now is have a mass clear-out of their squad in order to start fresh and rebuild from the ground up.
Yes, it will likely take a few windows to do this properly, and United shouldn’t be expecting to challenge for the PL title anytime soon. But they have backed themselves into a corner with their poor decision making since SAF departed, and now it needs to be cleaned up.
This piece will go through all of Man United’s first-team players, listed on their official website, and decide if United should keep or sell them.
It will not include players currently out on loan, such as Alexis Sanchez, Chris Smalling, etc.
Starting at the back, Davide de Gea is currently Manchester United’s number one shot-stopper.
Granted the Spaniard has not been at his best recently, particularly last campaign. But the fact remains that he has showcased in the past what a top goalkeeper he is.
And, given the state that United are currently in, they should do everything they can to retain de Gea’s services, as they probably won’t find anyone better at this time.
As for the subs, Sergio Romero is a solid backup, while 36-year-old Lee Grant does the job as third choice.
Man United’s backline
While Man United’s goalkeepers are pretty solid for now, their defence needs some serious work.
Man United do seem to be aware of this, as they splashed the cash on Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka over the summer, both of whom United should look to keep hold of.
But there are a copious number of defenders currently on the books for United that just aren’t good enough.
An ageing Ashley Young should probably be moved on in the coming months.
Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo just aren’t good enough to be regular features for Man United if they wish to return to their past glories.
And while Eric Bailly is a solid defender, the Ivorian is just too injury prone.
As for the rest of Man United’s current crop of defenders, Luke Shaw isn’t the greatest, but he will probably have to do Man United for the time being.
The likes of Diogo Dalot, Axel Tuanzebe and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are all still fairly young, and should be retained by United until their true potential can be fully assessed.
Finally, Victor Lindelof is a decent defender, and could prove a useful asset for United. However, he shouldn’t be one of their first-choice central defenders, like he currently is.
Deadwood in midfield
Moving into the midfield department, Man United have a lot of potential in this area.
But there is also a fair bit of deadwood that needs to be removed before the Manchester giants can reinvent their side.
For example, 31-year-old Nemanja Matic is now well past his best, and needs to be sold.
As well as Matic, the Red Devils should look to move on Fred, Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba.
Since Fred made the switch to Manchester, he just hasn’t been good enough. And United are at a stage in their cycle where they can’t afford to sit around and hope that a player finds his feet in the PL.
Jesse Lingard, despite people still thinking that he is this young promising English midfielder that will come good soon, will be 27 in December, and has yet to prove that he is a ‘top six’ caliber player.
As for Paul Pogba, while the Frenchman has proven on occasion what an outstanding player he can be, his good displays are few and far between, so United would be better served cashing in on him and investing his likely lucrative transfer fee elsewhere.
In terms of others that Manchester United should retain, Angel Gomes, James Garner, Daniel James and Scott McTominay are all young prospects who can prove real assets in United’s rebuilding process, with McTominay and James already becoming regular features in the first-team.
That leaves Juan Mata, who Man United should look to keep for his experience. Unlike Matic, the little Spaniard still puts in some solid displays from time to time.
Finally, Andreas Pereira hasn’t been overly impressive so far this campaign. But he too could be a decent squad player.
Man United’s forwards
Given the fact that Manchester United sold Romelu Lukaku over the summer, and Alexis Sanchez is out on loan, Solskjaer’s side are fairly short-staffed up top.
Currently, listed as forwards on United’s official website, ignoring Sanchez, they have Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Tahith Chong.
As a result, until United bring in some serious reinforcements for their frontline, they could do with keeping hold of the four aforementioned forwards.
However, while this may be an unpopular opinion, if Man United do bring in a couple of quality attackers in the future, they should look to move on Rashford.
People may argue that Rashford is still young and learning. But he has already racked up 180 appearances for Man United, and that is more than enough time to asses his ability. And, at the moment, he just doesn’t look good enough.