As the Premier League is frozen in the winter break with storm Ciara hammering through the UK, I can’t help but wonder what the remainder of United’s season will look like.
With 13 fixtures remaining in United’s season, the Club currently sits in 9th place and 6 points behind 4th place Chelsea. United, is still experiencing another ‘up-and-down’ season; thankfully, the winter break could not have come at a better time for the club.
With Rashford healing his fractured back and Pogba rehabbing his knee, the Soccer Gods have cut the squad a break. Fans are seeing the return of Scott McTominay and Axel Tuanzebe. The pair have made the trip out to Spain with the first team squad for training camp.
One notable absence in the club’s training camp is the newly acquired Odion Ighalo. This absence is of course due to reports that the UK may prevent entrance to anyone recently travelling from China, due to the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus.
Like the recent scare of this virus, United fans this season (including myself) have felt symptoms of headaches and a general feeling of being unwell. Also, like the virus, fans and the club’s front office are still trying to find a cure; in this case, an antidote for the team’s poor performances. With another transfer window having come and gone, I can’t help but feel that fans voices have once again gone unheard by Ed Woodward.
Don’t get me wrong, the recent acquisitions of Bruno Fernandes and Ighalo were much needed to fill the void of Rashford and Pogba. However, from a realists‘ perspective, you cannot expect 2 new players to carry the rest of the team. Aside from the goalkeeper spot, the team needs more depth in practically every position.
So, what’s next after the winter break for the club? Well, I hope to give my 2 cents and one fans prediction on what I believe is coming next in the near future.
United Fall Short Of 4th (or 5th)
It hurts me to say or think about it, but United have just been too inconsistent this year. As Chelsea is falling short to capture full points in their recent matches, United have also been unable to make up ground to challenge Chelsea’s spot in the table. United’s next match against Chelsea will be critical to reduce the gap for 4th. Leicester and Manchester City, however, show no recent signs of slowing down in the top 4.
Within the next 6 games, 5 of them are against teams in contention to finish in the top 4 of the EPL. Unless United can steal 3 points (or at least 1) from each of their upcoming games against Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City and Tottenham, I just do not see United contending for 4th place this season (or even 5th with City facing a UCL ban). Worst case, I can see United finishing in 6th yet again…
No matter how well a team performs, the blame and praise falls squarely on the manager. Unless Ole finds a miracle to bring consistency into the remainder of the season, I do not foresee United finishing fourth, nor do I see O.G.S remaining at the wheel, sadly. With the constant rumors swirling around the next manager, the familiar name of Mauricio Pochettino is skimming the news on social media.
Pochettino was reportedly seen speaking to Ed Woodward and has expressed hopes to make another return to the English Premier League. This rumour of course comes during a time that is (in my opinion) ‘make-it-or-break-it’ for O.G.S. As a United fan, I thank Ole for everything he has done in the past as a player for United and I truly wish O.G.S the best of luck as manager; but I do not envy the position he is in.
Au Revoir Pogba
According to recent reports in the Manchester Evening News, Pogba has expressed that he intends to cut ties with United in the summer. With the French midfielder being sidelined with injuries for most of this season, Pogba has kept himself busy on social media; posting himself playing charity soccer, basketball, dancing and now working through his recovery. I know when you acquire a star like Pogba you also acquire ‘the brand’ and personality that comes with the player.
Comparing Paul to the likes of the United Class of 92’, you would never see the Neville brothers, Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes posting videos of themselves partying or ‘playing around’ if they should’ve been recovering from an injury.
Those lads knew how much the team and the club means to Manchester and the fans, and always put the needs of the team before themselves. If Pogba was actually interested in remaining at the club, he would have cleared the air months ago about his commitment. In a way though he did clear the air, as his actions have clearly spoken louder than words.
Don’t get me wrong when I write this, but at the end of the day I’m a Manchester United fan, not a Paul Pogba fan. Pogba is still listed to return after the winter break; whether he plays for the club again is another story. With Ole looking to remain as manager and stay in the hunt for 4th place, I would see Pogba returning to the starting lineup.
Since United’s front office have previously expressed slashing Pogba transfer price by 30 million dollars, the 26 year old will want to return to the game to increase his price tag as well. The other possibility is that Pogba prolongs his return closer to the end of the season to rule out the possibility of injuring himself again before he joins France in the Euros.
So Where Will Pogba Sign?
Social media suggests Zinedine Zidane is still interested in bringing Pogba to Real Madrid. The fact that Pogba is still young and a proven winner makes him a viable option for any top club. Social media also suggests Juventus would welcome the return of Pogba. In a recent article in the Sun, TalkSport’s and former soccer star, Darren Bent, suggests that Paul could transfer to EPL rivals Manchester City or Liverpool.
I personally believe, however, that Pogba is done with England for the time being and would rather enjoy playing and the lifestyle in Madrid. With all this talk about transfers and money, I’m reminded of the sensible words of my father when it comes to deals and making business…. “Money talks and Bull Sh** walks…”
With all the talk of Jesse Lingard possibly on the move out of United and teaming up with Pogba’s agent (Mino Raiola), it feels inevitable that Lingard will be on the move. Due to poor performances, seeing longer periods on the bench, and Ole being heard yelling “one more time and you’re f***ing off” at Lingard during their last Carabao Cup match, it’s no shock to suggest that he will be leaving in the next transfer window.
Marcos Rojo recently joined boyhood club Estudiantes on loan.
Forbes.com also suggests recently that Nemanja Matic was possibly leaving earlier in the January transfer window for the MLS, after Chicago Fire attempted to spend $6.5 million on the 31 year old. Given his uptick in form and our lack of depth in midfield, it seems likely the Serb will stay around for another season.
Grealish Joins United
Metro.co.uk recently published an article in the news suggesting that United have Grealish on the top of their transfer list. Even though it has been a challenging season for Aston Villa, Grealish continues to help ‘the Villans’ stay just out of range of relegation. I am hopeful Grealish can continue his positive performance before his potential move to United.
Who Else Should Be Signed?
Obviously, we don’t have a crystal ball.. However, if I played Ed Woodward for the day, I would sign the following players:
Although obviously expensive, all 5 would be available and provide some much needed depth to the squad. But hey…if spending money is what it takes to bring the greatest club in the world back to the top of the Premier League and the Champions league, then so be it!
Like John and Alex say every week, United has the greatest fans in the world and United need to be reminded (more than ever) that they’re the greatest team in the world as well! I know one day (hopefully in the near future), United will return to the top of the soccer world!
Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if you agree or disagree with any (or all) of my predictions in the article. Let me know if there is anyone else you would like to see United sign.
You can follow me on Twitter @_The_Villager and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org