Hello !!! Welcome to another edition of United Journal’s Fan outlook.
Fan outlook is a new segment on our website where we invite fans from different clubs across the continent and ask them about their opinions on some of the latest football-related topics and mostly about Manchester United.
Today’s special edition will be done in two parts. Here, we have invited a few well-known footballing accounts who talk and write a lot about Manchester United.
Note: The names of our beloved guests are the same as their Twitter handle, and they may or may not be their real names.
Quickly, let’s begin!!!!
What can we the fans realistically expect from Manchester United this season?
Joe Lyons: “I think as has been the case for every season since Ole took over, further progress will be made but of course there has to be greater expectations for a club like Manchester United than just a top-four finish. 2 brilliant signings were made in positions that the team desperately needed upgrading, and we haven’t seen too many outgoings as of yet so squad depth looks good.
“Injuries and COVID protocols will no doubt come and go over the course of the year so it’s key that United have at least two starting-caliber players across each position. Ole has fallen short in every hunt for silverware so far, so it’s really important that he picks one up this season. The Europa League final loss in Gdańsk hurt in more ways than one, when United, on paper, overshadowed Villarreal in every department. Progress is great, but that progress has to be in the form of silverware eventually. That’s what Manchester United as a club is about, one of the most decorated in the world and renowned for their success.
“As for a minimum parameter, a top-four finish should be a no-brainer. As more teams continue to spend big and look to challenge for the title, the league gets even more difficult every year – and I don’t quite think United has the squad compared to Manchester City to put up a real fight, especially if they add Harry Kane. United must win a trophy this season, which if won, would end a drought of five years since Mourinho’s Europa League success in 2017.
“I’m not sure many fans will care which trophy it is, as long as United is off the mark under Solskjaer’s reign. Progress in the Champions League should be expected also, and new signings Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane have extensive experience in the competition. Bowing out in the group stage and turning to the Europa League shouldn’t be an option for United, I’d hope to see a quarter-final appearance at least.”
TheUnitedLink: “Manchester United was great for large parts of the season but there were some painful moments when fans thought we were ready for the next step, which is to win trophies. Ole has done a good job at restructuring the club and now it’s time for players to step up. Varane and Sancho are brilliant signings and will certainly elevate the quality of the squad. My objective for this season is for the club to mount a sustainable title challenge and try winning the FA Cup.”
Pauly Kwestel: “It’s hard to set any other measurable parameter beyond ‘improve in the league and win a trophy.’ Of course, improving league position would be winning a trophy but I don’t see us overtaking City. I think substantially increasing the total amount of points is progress, you certainly have to get at least 80 but should be more.
“As for expectations, I’m not too worried about United finishing in the top four. They are easily among the four best clubs in England and there are still massive question marks about Liverpool and I have questions over how all the pieces at Chelsea will fit. While United should finish in the top four comfortably, not addressing central midfield would be insisting on doing it in the most difficult way possible.”
Which potential signing after Varane and Sancho will raise both the floor and the ceiling of the club in order to compete for major honors on a consistent basis?
Joe Lyons: “A defensive midfielder should be the priority now following the signings of Varane and Sancho. Not only to support Paul Pogba, but this is a position that hasn’t ever been properly filled since the retirement of Michael Carrick. Poor recruitment across the board didn’t help in the form of Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, an aging Nemanja Matic, and whilst signed to play as a holding midfielder, Daley Blind was better suited to a role at center-half. I do think Eduardo Camavinga is an exciting prospect, and a player that could genuinely help the team, but the signs point to his heart being elsewhere, such as Real Madrid.
“Not only that, this is United’s best chance at a league title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, and if they want to lift the trophy in May they’ll have to get the best out of Paul Pogba and have him firing week in, week out. It’s unlikely that Pogba will stay at Old Trafford after next summer, so the club may as well do whatever they can to use his probable final year at the club to the best of their ability. Camavinga is a young talent, and one for the future, which doesn’t strike me as an instant fix. A player who is already Premier League proven, experienced, and fits the bill to a tee would be Wilfried Ndidi or Declan Rice.
“Both are already shaped and have the advantage of playing the English game, whereas you risk Camavinga needing time to settle in and adapt/develop his game to suit the style of the Premier League, which wouldn’t be the case for Ndidi or Rice. As expected, neither of these players will come cheap, so outgoings are needed to make this possible and this may be a sticking point as Solskjær looks to maintain squad depth ahead of the new season. However, I think a signing like this would put United right up there to lock horns with Man City and challenge for the top spot.”
TheUnitedLink: “Certainly a Defensive Midfielder. Someone who can provide sufficient cover for the defenders while allowing other midfielders to play with more freedom. Whether Manchester United consider that a necessity this window is another matter.”
Pauly Kwestel: “A CENTRAL MIDFIELDER. In my opinion that is/was more important than Varane. If you can’t protect your back four, it doesn’t matter who you got back there. United have guys that can run around and do the dirty work, but outside of Matic and Pogba, they don’t have anyone who can reliably keep possession and push the ball forward so their attacking players can get the ball in good positions.
“They need someone that can do that. I’m intrigued by Saul – not as a replacement for Pogba, but someone who can play next to him/with him in a three. Longevity is a question though, and while Camavinga may not raise the ceiling this season, he’s a guy that would allow you to consistently compete for honors for the next few years.”
What do you make of the new substitution rule(9 players on bench) and how can Manchester United benefit from that this season?
Joe Lyons: “The rule will be a huge help for teams across the league, but I don’t think it’ll impact Manchester United specifically very much. Last season, Solskjaer was often reluctant to make very many substitutions, instead opting to trust his starters for the most part. We saw this in the Europa League final most of all, which ended up costing United in the end.
“But with squad depth looking greater and more polished this season, Solskjaer will have more options down the stretch if he needs a goal or to see out a win. A small range of substitutes was used last season, mostly van de Beek seeing short cameos, Matic in the closing ten minutes, and Daniel James or Mason Greenwood depending on who started. Injuries can be expected as always, and with Marcus Rashford missing the first few months of the campaign, the more options on the bench for United, the better.”
TheUnitedLink: “A squad with quality will always be happy with the 9 players on the bench. It’s likely to help the Top 6 as they seem to have better squad depth but it’s the in-game management which yields the actual results.”
Pauly Kwestel: “I don’t see this having any effect whatsoever. Not because Ole is bad with subs (he’s frustrating with them, but his substitution patterns fall right in line compared to his peers) but mainly because, what difference does it make? United aren’t struggling to trim their matchday squad to 18, and as soon as they pick up a few injuries you’ll quickly start seeing two goalkeepers and an extra defender making the bench. Maybe there’s more chance of Elanga and Shortire getting in there so if they’re suddenly three or four-nil up they can get on. That’s all.
“But most weeks this will benefit Man City and no one else. United’s biggest bench issue is that they lack game-changers. Last season they really only had one player who could come on and change a game (unless Pogba didn’t start). This year they’ll have about two, maybe three if Van de Beek breaks out. No amount of substitutions or players on the bench will change that if you don’t have the players in your squad.”
How much of a toll will Paul Pogba’s contract situation take on the team’s overall performance? Should Manchester United take a gamble here by extending his contract and make him the highest-paid player?
Joe Lyons: “Pogba’s situation is a tricky one, and I’m sure it frustrates not only the club but the manager and players also. I hope it exists only at the back of their mind though because there are much more important things to focus on. If Pogba leaves, it’s not the end of the world and Manchester United has moved on from far greater things. Pogba’s second stint at United has been full of ups and downs, so I’m not sure making him the highest-paid player would be the smartest move when his head could be elsewhere. We haven’t particularly seen any stretch of consistency that we’d hoped, except one or two periods like December 2018-March 2019 or his role on the left-wing last season before he got injured.
“If United can somehow get the Pogba that they bought from Juventus for £89m, then there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be made the highest-paid player at the club but until they see that, you can’t justify that amount of money and risk. There has to be a time where you draw the line, and despite what could’ve been, it wasn’t meant to be. However, when looking at Paul Pogba that looks like a world-beater for France, I can’t help but think a world-class defensive midfielder alongside him would do the world of good for both the team and his individual performances. He’s not irreplaceable, and you have to remember that even after Cristiano Ronaldo left, one of the greatest players of all time, United still won two league titles in the next four years.”
TheUnitedLink: “Paul Pogba will always be a story, irrespective of his contract situation. The player is concentrating on the season and I think there is a good chance he will renew.”
Pauly Kwestel: “That’s really on Paul Pogba. In terms of the squad, none of them care. I’ve spoken to players in football and other sports and they all have the same answer in regards to contract disputes. They understand it’s part of the game and the only thing they care about is “does the player show up to work, act professional, and give his all?” By all accounts, Pogba does that. As for Pogba. His wage demands are incredibly high and since his performances on the pitch haven’t consistently merited that (and he’s had injury issues) most clubs aren’t lining up to give him those wages (bear in mind the situation at PSG could be much different a year from now). If he wants to be a mega earner, he’s going to have to prove that on the pitch, and if Paul Pogba is proving it on the pitch, United are going to win a lot of matches.”
What can fans active on social media do from their side in order to stop racial or any kind of abuse over our players whenever they don’t perform well?
Joe Lyons: “Sadly in today’s era of social media, racism and other forms of abuse are inevitable until platforms like Twitter make a change. The best thing to do until these platforms find a solution is to report the tweet or post and block the user. Trolls thrive off interactions and attention, so if they don’t get what they want they’ll soon venture elsewhere. Most of all, as a fan of your club, spread positivity and back your players and manager. Abuse and toxicity do no good whatsoever and creates a negative environment that can have detrimental effects, not only on other users but on players themselves. Constructive criticism is fine, and something that should be encouraged as everyone has the right to an opinion – but there’s always a line and when that is crossed, action must be taken.”
TheUnitedLink: “Learn to accept the fact that football is a sport and players are humans. We all love this sport and there is no room for such behavior, in this society, let alone the sport. Let’s be responsible for our own actions and support the players irrespective of the result.”
Pauly Kwestel: “For starters, don’t tweet racist things. If you’re going to tweet something racist, stop doing that and seriously re-evaluate your entire life. When Pogba or Rashford or Sancho mess up on the pitch it’s not because they’re black, it’s because football is a bloody, really difficult game and they’re playing it at a level that ~maybe~ 100 other people in the WORLD are capable of playing it at. This seems really simple but somehow there are still people out there. And when you see those people, don’t retweet them. Don’t reply to them. Report the tweet and move on. If you desperately need to share something, screenshot it and post it yourself. Don’t give them any engagement.”
That’s all we have for you today on the segment!!!!
We want to say a very big thank you to the panelists on board today and everyone that read this.
Note: Wondering how to be a part of this segment? Fan Outlook will be back. All you have to do is follow theutdjournal on Twitter and make sure to ping Jack Cristian, who played a pivotal role to start this initiative to voice fan opinion on our website. To be eligible for this segment, you just need to have a Twitter account. Cheers. Have a good day !!!