In today’s Manchester United roundup, we take a look at the headlines that have been making the rounds. There is an injury crisis ahead of the trip to West Ham United, ex-Manchester City man Alf-Ing Haaland talks about his son’s link to United, and Owen Hargreaves believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must sign Declan Rice and Jadon Sancho.
Report: As reported by the Manchester Evening News, Solskjaer is set to be without Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial for the Sunday clash against West Ham at the London Stadium. All three have missed the wins against Leicester City and Astana, with the French stars yet to return to training, whilst Shaw’s hamstring injury has kept him sidelined.
Verdict: As much as this is a treat for the Hammers, it is dreadful news for United. Yes, Pogba’s form has been questionable, however, the 26-year-old has proven once again to be Solskjaer’s main creative output bagging two assists in the four games thus far, whilst forward man Martial has scored twice and provided one assist this season.
Indeed, with Shaw out, United may become more defensively exposed with Ashley Young set to come in at left-back. Young was a problem for United last season when Shaw was also sidelined, and the 34-year-old has averaged just 0.3 tackles per game in his three Premier League matches this campaign.
Report: Hargreaves, when speaking after United’s victory over Astana, said: “Ultimately you’ve got to find a way to win games. I think the next phase is getting players that can make the difference. I think Declan Rice at the base of the midfield in this team makes a difference. I think Jadon Sancho would be a perfect player for this team and they need a no.9 whoever that may be.
“It’s a work in progress and it’s going to take time but at some point they’re going to have to invest. Eventually you have to buy.
Verdict: In a nutshell, this is modern football, and teams who want to win, usually have to buy. Furthermore, United showed against Astana that academy products like Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood could soon be superstars, but they also showed that they need an awful lot of time to work.
Astana formed just 10 years ago, and truthfully, a club the size of United should be netting for fun against them. Yes, of course, they fielded academy players, however, there is only a year between the likes of Sancho and Gomes, so it is tough to disagree with Hargreaves in saying United must buy and not just concentrate on youth.
Report: Former Leeds United man Alf-Inge Haaland spoke to TV2, seemingly giving his son Erling Braut Haaland his blessing to join fierce rivals Manchester United if the club were to seek the 19-year-old’s signature.
“It would be nice. It is important to distinguish between being a supporter and a job. So I have a very relaxed relationship with that. It’s a little different when it’s serious.
“Yes, I think most players dream of being in the Premier League at one time or another. It’s the league that gets the most attention around, and it has very good quality teams. There is no doubt the Premier League is attractive to him.”
Verdict: United boss Solskjaer is no stranger to Haaland’s goalscoring ability, having handed the teenager his debut during his time at Molde. Since then, the Leeds-born youngster has got the footballing world talking about him this season after scoring 17 goals in 11 appearances [Transfermarkt], including a hat-trick on his Champions League debut, and coincidentally becoming the youngest player to score a hat-trick on his debut since United’s all-time top scorer Wayne Rooney did in 2004.
The Red Devils are perhaps not in need of a young striker at the moment, with Greenwood also scoring on the European stage in midweek, whilst Marcus Rashford is only 21 and Martial is just 23. However, Haaland’s form is better than the three of them combined, and as Solskjaer knows the striker well – perhaps it would be a clever purchase from him.