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Football News: Manchester United Can't Drop Key Players From The Team

Manchester United Can't Drop Key Players From The Team

The Manchester United team isn't playing well and we are struggling. I think we are in a bit of a cycle where initially injuries caused poor performances / results, but those poor performances have also affected the confidence of several players. That's a particularly difficult situation to correct. Even as you start to get players back from injury, they are coming back into a team that is struggling and low on confidence. Which is not ideal as you try to play yourself back into form and fitness.

I've seen several people say about dropping players in poor form, but if their form is poor due to confidence, then dropping them is more likely to negatively impact them than positively. Like it or not, we need players like Rashford and Bruno playing and playing well for us. There is no one else in the squad who is capable of providing the goals and assists to their level.

If we had a well built squad of players whose skills and talents blended well together to create a team greater than the sum of its parts, then you can drop key players and become less reliant on individuals. But we don't and we are probably 2-3 years away from being able to assemble a squad capable of that. In the mean time we will be more reliant on individuals performing to their best in order to get results.

If you look at the backbone of our team from last season (DDG, Varane, Martinez, Casemiro, Eriksen, Bruno and Rashford). Those 6-7 players were what held our team together. When they were absent or in poor form, the side suffered.

DDG has left, despite the issues of Onana it was time to move on from DDG who was declining and not capable of playing a modern, progressive style. Onana's troubles in settling are being massively affected by the team in front of him. Either way it is a position where our form isn't as good as last season (although I'm still confident that Onana will come good and prove his quality).

In the heart of defence, we have seen Martinez who was arguably one of the best CB's in the league last season struggle with form at the start of the season and is now out injured. In hindsight, it's clear he wasn't fully over his injury and shouldn't have come back as soon as he did. I don't know who is to blame, did the medical staff rush him back, or did the player push himself too soon. Who knows and ultimately it doesn't make much difference now, as long as those involved in the situation have learned from it.

Varane has also been in and out of the team due to persistent niggles at the start of this season and it has been suggested that maybe to avoid those spells out injured that he might need to only play once a week as his body doesn't seem capable of holding up when playing twice a week. That's problematic going forward with the injury to Martinez as it means one of Maguire, Lindelof or Evans will have to be the ever present in the heart of our defence with one of the other two rotating with Varane.

I think Maguire is a better partner with Varane than either Evans or Lindelof. Typically you want a stopper and a sweeper in your defence CB partnership. One player whose instinct is to step out and challenge for the ball along side someone who will sit and sweep up if that initial challenge doesn't win the ball. Maguire and Martinez are stoppers while Varane, Lindelof and Evans work better as sweepers.

When we've paired Martinez with Maguire we have had two players whose instinct is to attack the ball and try and win it. Which means they either get in each others way or when one misses winning the ball the second one then dives in rather than jockeying the player and holding them up while the team regains their shape. Or if we pair two sweepers then the tendency is that both players stand off and invite pressure.

In midfield we have seen Casemiro's form decline and he is no longer able to hold down the midfield on his own, while Eriksen is unable to play for more than 60 minutes effectively. That decline has left us exposed as the alternative options are not as good as Casemiro or Eriksen at their peak.

This instability/ decline through our spine from midfield and defence I think are responsible for the drop off in form of both Bruno and Rashford, as well as the struggle for Onana to settle. For Bruno and Rashford there is more pressure on them to create/ score, while they are getting less opportunities and the ones they are getting are of poorer quality. While at the other end Onana is being asked to do more work that he should, and the chances being offered up by our poor defending are of greater quality making the job of keeping those shots out much harder.

The problem is that we have what we have now. Until other players return from injury we need to think about how we can get results in the meantime. Obviously everyone has different ideas and views.

What I would look to do is reduce the pressure on our defence by trying to keep the ball and pen the opposition in higher up the pitch. The downside to this approach is we will concede chances on the counter as we don't have any particularly quick centre backs. I'd look to line up with:

Onana, Dalot, Maguire, Varane / Lindelof, Reguilon, Amrabat, Casemiro/ Eriksen, Mount, Bruno, Rashford, Hojlund.

Obviously with Varane unable to play twice a week he will have to rotate with Lindelof. While pairing both Casemiro and Eriksen in midfield is asking for trouble with both slowing down and losing mobility. It should be either/ or depending on the game. I'd be tempted to start Eriksen and try and establish a lead before bringing Casemiro on for him in the second half to make us more solid to defend that lead. Although some game might require the opposite. I'd also bring in Mount for Antony. We need to be better at keeping the ball and we can't afford to have both Rashford and Antony in the team. While adding Mount means we have another player who will look to create rather than score themselves. Bruno and Mount would probably rotate around depending on the situation.

You could still build in a 3-2 shape with either Dalot staying deep on the right of the 3, or you could split the CB and have Amrabat drop deeper between the CB's and have Dalot or Reguilon play in the two with the other pushing forward to offer attacking width. Dalot is probably better in the two with Reguilon pushing forward to overlap Rashford allowing the Englishman him to cut inside. In attack you'd have front five that looked a little like Reguilon, Rashford, Hojlund, Bruno and Mount. Still lacking some width down the right, but we need that solidity. I might even switch Mount and Bruno to bring Mount more central as his ball retention is better, but that does take Bruno further away from goal where he does his best work.

It's not ideal, and there are compromises in several positions, but its probably about the best we can do. Add some energy and better ball retention so we can win the ball better and keep it better and hope that can reduce the opportunities for the opposition to score.

I'd like to see if anyone else has any other realistic options to improve the team with the players we have available.

Written by Shappy October 27 2023 15:01:29


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