A run of three consecutive away wins and the fickle nature of football left Manchester United fans on a rare high for this season. A 1-0 loss at AFC Bournemouth quickly ended that.
There was little to inspire, defensive mistakes and much to bemoan. Injuries have played their part in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s nightmare campaign so far. Which ones have had the most impact?
The young centre-back came into the side in September and made a real impact to United’s defence. His versatility, which sees him start at right-back or in the middle, was a valuable tool for Solskjaer. More importantly, Tuanzebe appears to suit Harry Maguire as a partner. Victor Lindelof, at the moment, does not.
Maguire and Lindelof have looked shaky on a number of occasions since Tuanzebe replaced the Swede in the starting line-up. Tuanzebe’s attributes are a good combination with Maguire. He’s composed and an excellent passer of the ball but perhaps most important is his pace and reading of the game to cover for Maguire’s lack of speed. Lindelof can’t provide that.
Tuanzebe can play in a three-man and two-man defence and gives United a better tempo from any position. He was in good form and his injury was another blow to a United side on a downer.
Critics of Pogba will insist that his presence can make Manchester United worse. On some occasions, they’ve been proved right. But the Frenchman is United’s best outfield player.
He can do anything in midfield, and in wide areas. Though he’s not shown himself to be captain-material at Old Trafford, he’s still an inspiration to a huge amount of the young generation at the club and elsewhere in football.
Pogba’s creativity, unmatched by anyone else in the United side, would give the Reds something in games where they’ve produced nothing.
On average, Pogba provides more assists per game (0.4) than anyone else in the team, as well as more key passes (2.6) per game. Only Martial and Rashford have more successful dribbles per game.
His quality attracts opposition defenders and provides space in which his teammates can play. United fans will be all too aware that their attacking need space to thrive in. Pogba is deeply missed and there’s no pretending otherwise.
The absence of Shaw has allowed United fans and Solskjaer to see the talent of Brandon Williams.
The 19-year-old isn’t playing every game though and with a packed schedule including the UEFA Europa League and EFL Cup, United need options.
Ashley Young is coming in to replace Williams when necessary, or the other way round.
A rotating duo of Shaw and Williams would be much better for United.
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