3 Games in: My Thoughts on Manchester United (2019)
The New Boys
Looking Good! So Far.
Dybala or not, it was good to see Manchester United going out into the market this year with a genuine type of player identified. Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James are all young, hungry talented British players who bring a huge amount of desire that you didn't get was necessarily there before. As Gary Neville said, it's important to actually like the team and the players you're supporting week in and week out, and it's a lot easier to support the players who look like they want to give it their all when they're on the pitch.
Maguire has looked solid in his three games, whilst Wan-Bissaka's performances so far in a United shirt have been as crucially impressive as they were for Palace last season. His pace, power and positioning have really been on the levels you would expect of some seasoned professional, making his performances seem even more impressive.
Daniel James was a player I was looking forward to seeing the most from however. His passion on the pitch and love for United is so obvious to anyone watching on, and his quick turn of pace and lightning speed has already gotten the whole league talking. He's already established himself as a regular starter, and his two goals in three appearances is a testament to how well he's slotted into Ole's system.
3 Given, 2 Missed...
When was the last time you ever saw a Premier League team win three penalties in three consecutive games, let alone those three games being the first three of the season!?
First of all, it's important to say that United must be doing something right in the attacking phases to have picked up a penalty against every opponent they've faced so far this season. It's a testament to the quick flowing movement and pace the likes of Martial, Rashford and James bring to a side.
But there clearly is a problem at Manchester United revolving around penalties. Pogba missing against Wolves was one thing, but the fact that it went one step further with Rashford at the weekend goes to show there is something chronically wrong at the club.
Clearly, you cannot have a successful season by missing out on the golden opportunities a penalty brings to a team and it's increasingly looking like a real issue for United.
United now need to sit and down and be the victim of some proper steely management from Solskjaer. It's clear that not having a designated set piece taker is badly hurting United and that needs to be sorted before the kick off at Southampton and going forward with the rest of the season.
On The Right Track, United Fans Need To Back Him
United fans have to back Solskjaer this season. Turning on an established manager with a rigid form of playing like Mourinho is one thing, but turning on a fresh-faced legend of the club with a long term vision in Solskjaer isn't going to accomplish anything productive for United.
Solskjaer's greatest achievement so far at the helm has been his handling of the media train that is always circling around Manchester United, far more than any other club in England. The way he has handled the Paul Pogba and David De Gea dilemmas has been excellent, and there is finally a sense that the players at the club genuinely want to be here.
What should be said is that there is still this slight feeling that we need to see a little bit more strength from the Norwegian at times. Not appointing a designated set piece taker and the over-reliance on certain squad favourites has already come back to bite Solskjaer so far this season, meaning he needs to really work his authority on this side and give the fans something to look at for reassurance that he is the top man at the club.
He is on the right track with what he's trying to bring to the table at Manchester United. The form of Rashford, Martial, Wan-Bissaka, Shaw and James is surely an indication that this form of playing is far more suited to the squad and is certainly much more in line with the core principles of the club. It should buy him a bit more patience, if nothing else.
Our Star Player?
Solskjaer's no.9 and main man for the season, you get the impression that Anthony Martial has been after that centre forward position for a good while now and is determined to do everything in his power to keep hold of it. We all knew he had a cool head and a striker's eye before the season started, but what has been equally impressive so far for United fans is the vision, drive and pace that Martial has demonstrated in United's opening three games.
The exchanges with Rashford has a good feel to it and it looks like a bit of healthy competition has broken out between the two forwards for who will emerge as United's leading scorer this season. It's really only Rashford's penalty miss that keeps him from this award in fairness.
This season looks to be Martial's biggest in a United shirt, in terms of responsibility and minutes played - no longer will he be a squad player coming off the bench here and there as he was at times under Mourinho. Martial has all the talent in the world and could very conceivably take on the likes of Mane and Sterling for the golden boot award this year. 17 goals remains his highest tally in a single season which he has to try and beat this year if United are going to make a success of their season.