When you think of Manchester United what comes to mind? Is it the once unrivaled greatest English team or the former football force struggling to find its feet? The latter comes to mind if the current state of affairs is anything to go by. To be fair, that has been the case for majority of the last 6-7 years since Sir Alex Ferguson called time on his coaching career.
In different aspects since Fergie retired, United have looked like a product that is past its sell by date and in some instances, a fruit that is yet to ripen. Just where did it all go wrong? When it comes down to it, it is players who play and are responsible for the performance in the field.
Apart from Paul Pogba and the recently rejuvenated David De Gea, there really isn't much to talk about when it comes to the current squad. The philosophy under Old Gunnar Solskjaer right now is utilising youth and their potential to succeed. Although it may be a good foundation for the club to rebuild by, it can also be the case of having a double edged sword.
Why is this so? United are hurting and hurting bad as there are no leaders in the team. Take a case of the mouth watering 3-3 draw against Sheffield United. The side showed great resilience to mount a comeback but lack of leaders and experienced players saw them concede in injury time and could not see the game through.
The January transfer window will be crucial for Solskjaer not only in bringing players in but also getting rid of dead weight. These players are overdue in a United shirt and should be sold at the earliest opportunity.
#2 Jesse Lingard
The England international is a product of United's academy. Since the start of the 2018/2019 season, Jesse Lingard has managed only four goals and and two assists in 37 Premier League matches. This season alone, Welsh youngster Dan James has scored three and assisted three in the league. Lingard will be 27 years in under a month. These are his peak years as a footballer but he has done little over the course of the last 18 months to warrant a spot at United.
In 2019, he has recorded one goal and no assist for United which is incredible for a player in his position. He has been given more than enough chances to perform. If players such as Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez were axed for the same reasons, then Lingard too should follow suit. It is little surprise that Gareth Southgate has opted against giving him a call up in recent games.
#1 Phil Jones
The match against Sheffield United in late November basically summarised Jones' career in the post-Fergie era. Ferguson once had high praise for Phil Jones after bringing the defender to Old Trafford from Blackburn Rovers. Jones has been a weak link in the United defence for quite some time now. In that match, he had time and space to clear the ball before Lys Mousset bullied him off it en route to a Sheffield goal.
The 2018 FA Cup final is another good example of how Jones is not dependable as a centre back. Eden Hazard gave him a tough afternoon and exposed him time and again during one on one situations. His lack of game awareness enabled Hazard, who was a few yards behind him to reach the ball, drive into the box and win the penalty after Jones fouled him. It is little surprise that he has scored four own goals in a United shirt.