Manchester United v Manchester City Match in Pictures
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If Manchester United were marked for their first five games of the Premier League season, they would be on course for an A grade. But it doesn’t work like that – as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows first hand. A run of just four points from a possible 24 games has left the Old Trafford outfit in the lurch, falling to sixth in the space of just two months, with some heavy defeats along the way.
There have been very few positives and many negatives – and Express Sport will now take a look at the best and worst players before giving a final grade of United’s season so far.
Best player so far
There aren’t many players that fit into this category given the poor displays by United this season.
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the only shining lights of the season, with his exploits in the Premier League and Champions League resulting in 10 goals contributions in 12 games – one every 98 minutes and 36 seconds.
But the efforts of David De Gea should not go unnoticed. Agreed, he shipped five to Liverpool and wasn’t at his best against Atalanta last week, but if it wasn’t for the Spaniard then United would be in much bigger trouble.
However, with Ronaldo repeatedly saving the Red Devils this season, he pips De Gea to the award.
Most disappointing player so far
Where to begin!
The defence have all been disappointing, namely Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka who have both played in every minute of the Premier League bar Maguire’s absence against Everton in October.
Elsewhere across the pitch, Paul Pogba’s early exploits have been much forgotten as the midfielder continues to show bouts of inconsistency, whilst Bruno Fernandes has not been hitting the standards he set himself last season with just one goal in ten in the Premier League.
Fred has been lacking, although due to his reduced profile compared to the rest of the squad he hasn’t been as disappointing as his team-mates. The same goes for Donny van de Beek: his lack of game time means he can’t even be considered for this award.
Even the attack boasts problems. Jadon Sancho has yet to impress whatsoever at Old Trafford after his £71million move from Borussia Dortmund in July, whilst Marcus Rashford – despite boasting a sufficient goal record – looks way off the pace.
But the award goes to that man Wan-Bissaka. No attacking contributions in 15 games, a red card which ultimately contributed to United’s shock loss at Young Boys and two clean sheets in those games all point to him.
Especially with other full-backs in the Premier League such as Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold succeeding, he is showing United that they severely overpaid for his services.
January transfer targets
Paul Pogba’s reported refusal to sign a contract unless he becomes the league’s highest earner should give United worry as to who they should bring in as his replacement.
Donny van de Beek could fill the role, but you’d have to wonder who would then come in to replace the Dutchman.
Franck Kessie, Wilfried Ndidi and Declan Rice have all been linked with a move to United with all three aiming to add a defensive grit to Solskjaer’s side.
However, with the season entering its busiest period, deals will be extremely hard to pull off for the Red Devils.
Overall grade: C-
The only shining light is that United top their Champions League group, but even then they should have been winning that comfortably, not at the struggle they are.
Players who have shone in the past have lacked, with their frailties showing week in week out.
They aren’t all to blame, of course – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a huge reason for United’s failure this season and his position at United looks more precarious by the day.
The grade they deserve is nowhere near the standard they usually achieve – and so an extremely generous C- grade for their season so far should be looked upon in horror by fans, players and staff alike if they are to change.
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