August 31, 2020
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to be following the advice of former United teammate Paul Scholes this summer. ESPN has reported that United are interested in signing RB Leipzig central defender Dayot Upamecano this summer which was some of the advice that Scholes gave Solskjaer earlier in the summer. The United legend feels that United captain, Harry Maguire should have someone more capable playing alongside him as Victor Lindelof has not been ideal recently.
Scholes has talked about Maguire’s ‘slight weaknesses’ which have been seen during his first season at the Old Trafford club. United kept 13 clean sheets with both Lindelof and Maguire during the 2019/20 season, and the duo improved during the second half of the season but Lindelof was at fault for United conceding a goal against Sevilla which saw them exit the UEFA Europa League at the semi-final stage with Sevilla winning the competition for the sixth time. Speaking on BT Sport about United needing a ‘dominant centre half’ and reported by The Mirror, Scholes said:
“I think they could do with a centre half, I’ve said that all along. I’m not sure Lindelof going to be good enough as a partner for Maguire. I think they need a dominant defender next to him.
“Defensively, the full backs are OK. On the ball you’d have to question but defensively they’re OK. I think the defensive record over the last 15, 20 games has been very good, probably one of the best in the league so you have to take that into respect as well.
“But I still think a dominant centre-half next to Maguire, just to cover for the slight weaknesses he has.”
United will be expected to mount a credible Premier League title challenge during the 2020/21 season and Solskjaer has a starting XI that could do that although the quality in the remainder of the squad is the real issue. In defence, United have Lindelof and Maguire as the first choice pairing, then there is Eric Bailly, who has suffered a number of injuries in his time at United. From there, you have Chris Smalling, who seems to be seeking an exit with AS Roma interested, Marcos Rojo, who seems to be close to an exit and Phil Jones, who has been injury prone throughout his career at United.
Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi will provide some depth in the squad but the pair lack experience with Mengi still a teenager and looking to make the rise into the first team inside the next season or two. If United were to get rid of Smalling, Jones and Rojo this summer, Solskjaer would need to sign at least one central defender, which would leave Lindelof, Bailly, Maguire, Tuanzebe, Mengi (sparingly) and at least one new signing in defence this summer. However, there is no guarantee that Solskjaer will be able to sell the likes of Jones and Rojo based on a lack of interest in the pair.
I believe that Solskjaer wants to build something great at United but he will need to be backed by the hierarchy at the club, which is something that is not as guaranteed as it should be. The signing of Donny van de Beek will be a welcome addition at the club and a signing that should ensure United’s midfield is one of the best in the Premier League. If a winger and a striker can be signed, alongside a defender, then United will be ready to take on the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City to close the gap on the pair and actually challenge for the title for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson managed the club.
Written by John Walker