As Man United appear to be suffering their first blip of the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era after three defeats in their last four games, the conversation around the club is naturally turning to the need for summer recruits.
In light of the latest loss to Wolves, football writer Daniel Harris joined Wednesday’s OTB AM to discuss what positions Solskjaer needs to focus on to transform United into effective title challengers.
“I think in the end, his time as manager is going to be defined by whether he buys the right players”, Harris said of Solskjaer, adding: “I think that we are starting to see where he thinks those players need to be bought.”
Harris highlighted his view that United’s continuous failure this year has been the inability to dominate the ball in midfield.
“If you watch the way United have been playing under Solskjaer he knows they can’t dominate midfield, so what they do is they defend and when they get the opportunity they counter with pace and get men forward.”
While this tactic has picked up some impressive results during Solskjaer’s first few months, its failings are beginning to show and have a faltering effect on United. Harris noted that even against “middling teams” such as Watford and Leicester, United are struggling to hold the ball in midfield which is then forcing undue pressure onto their centre backs.
Even Manchester City’s defence would concede more goals if they were to play in a similar style to United this season, according to Harris. “I think if you gave the amount of work that United’s centre backs have to do to Stones and Laporte, you would find that City would concede a lot more goals.”
“If you allowed me three players I would buy two midfield players and a winger”, Harris told Ger and Eoin, highlighting in particular the lack of an attacking option on the right wing which has “been a problem for years”.
“You can see it when they attack by how unbalanced they are”, he said.
Harris concluded that with the recruitment of the correct personnel United could be challengers next year.
“I think you could get another year out of United’s defence and put in a challenge for the title if you got the right signings in the other positions. Whereas if you went and found two new centre backs I think you would still struggle with the same problem where you wouldn't be able to dominate the game and your defence would have to do a lot.'
'And when your defence has to do a lot of defending you're more likely to see errors.”