Manchester United get their new Premier League campaign underway against Chelsea at Old Trafford in less than a month’s time and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has arguably more problems than when last season ended.
4.30pm on August 11 and everyone will be able to see if this new and improved training model, along with the new additions, has given United the boost they so desperately needed.
When the season ground to a disappointing halt against Cardiff in May, with United winning just two of their last 12 games in all competitions, it was clear a lot needed to be done.
There were strong arguments to strengthen in every position and a lot of deadwood in the squad needed to be shifted before the new campaign got underway if Solskjaer had any chance of pushing United back to the top and the Norwegian promised to be ‘ruthless.’
But, the concern for United is that as they prepared for their first pre-season fixture against Perth Glory the vast majority of the problems still remained and on top of that, there were new issues for the United manager to deal with.
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Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have already been praised for their positive attitudes, hunger and speed as they trained with their teammates at the WACA Ground in Perth and, while they fit United’s new transfer strategy their arrivals do little to solve deep lying issues in the squad.
Centre back for starters.
Jose Mourinho was wrong on a number of things during his tenure as manager but the club’s need for a new central defender was not one of them and United still have not solved that problem.
A bid for Leicester defender Harry Maguire has been rejected and with Solskjaer making it clear the club will walk away from overpriced targets striking a deal for the England international may become difficult.
Which means as transfer deadline day edges nearer Solskjaer could be left with the same defenders who last season recorded United’s worst defensive record in 40 years.
A failure, so far, to strengthen at the back could further harm creativity in the middle.
United have lacked creativity and flair for a while now. Some blamed poor tactics from Mourinho but even with a ‘positive’ manager at the helm, who prides himself on the core United principles of attacking football, the team have struggled.
At times the midfielders have had to overcompensate for the poor defence with Paul Pogba one of a number of players who has had to drop into a deeper role than he would have liked to offer cover at the back. And without solving the defensive flaws, there’s potential for that to happen again.
Add to that the fact the club have yet to sell any players this summer and two of their biggest stars are publicly stating their desire to leave and Solskjaer is left with an even bigger headache than he had at the end of the last campaign.
Marcus Rashford praised his manager for improving the club’s training sessions, a move that came after the Norwegian criticised the team’s fitness and running levels in the last campaign, but it is going to take more than running drills to solve the problems in the United squad.
Fitness levels may increase but the core problems still remain.
It’s a long-term project, as everyone has been made aware, but so far this summer more problems have been created than solved and with transfer deadline day looming and the new season fast approaching club chiefs are running out of time to get things back on track.