We’re now four months into the 2019/20 season and for the most part, it’s been a mixed bag for Manchester United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have seen a couple of bright moments – the emergence of Daniel James, the 4-0 win over Chelsea on the opening day – but there’s been a lot of doom and gloom too, largely due to some poor results both in the Premier League and in Europe too.
While some players have shined – the afore-mentioned James, Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay to name three – and big-money signings Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have settled well, some others have definitely struggled, too.
Here are 3 Manchester United players who have flopped this season.
#1 Jesse Lingard
The form of attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard has appeared to be in free-fall for some time, and in a hugely worrying statistic, he has failed to register either a goal or an assist for his club in Premier League action since the beginning of 2019. Where the 26-year old was once considered a key player at Old Trafford, these days it’s becoming hard to justify his inclusion in United’s starting XI at all.
It’s confusing, too; anyone would think that Lingard’s style of play would be well-suited to the swift, counter-attacking game that Solskjaer has looked to impose on his team, and yet that simply hasn’t been the case. Somehow, the England man has even fallen behind Andreas Pereira in the pecking order, and you now need to go back to September’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal to find his last league start.
It’s hardly a surprise he’s also fallen out of favour with the England national side, but for a player who turns 27 in December, is there really the time for him to turn it around? Lingard would hope so, but with his contract at Old Trafford also due to expire in the summer of 2021 – and no new offer currently on the table – his time at United could be waning.
#2 Juan Mata
Another attacking player who is struggling at Old Trafford right now is Spain’s Juan Mata. Once considered one of the most skilful and creative players in the entire Premier League, Mata’s poor form this season has seen him slip onto the periphery of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team, and he has now not started a Premier League game since the disastrous 1-0 loss to Newcastle at the start of October.
Mata’s productivity seems to have dried up entirely; he hasn’t registered a goal or an assist all season, his passing success rate has slipped from 89.5% in his first season at United to 83.5%, and his other attacking stats – shots per game, key passes – have fallen dramatically too. In fact, United have not scored in open play during his last 342 minutes on the pitch.
At 31 years old is it possible that the Spaniard has simply gotten old overnight? It definitely could be the case, as he does look practically glacial in comparison to United attackers like Daniel James and Marcus Rashford – but then pace was never one of Mata’s strong areas and he always coped before. Regardless, if he wants a future at Old Trafford he needs to turn around his form quickly.
#3 Victor Lindelof
Swedish centre-back Victor Lindelof has practically been an ever-present for United this season, forming a partnership with new signing Harry Maguire – but while Maguire has received good reviews for the way that he’s settled in at Old Trafford, Lindelof has appeared to struggle through the majority of his games.
United have managed to keep just two clean sheets in the Premier League this season, and have conceded 12 goals already. Of course, it’s fair to state that goals conceded should be blamed on an entire defence, but some of Lindelof’s other stats are alarming; he’s completed just 9 successful tackles this season with a success rate of just 33%, he’s blocked no shots and has only made 8 interceptions.
He’s also lost almost as many aerial battles as he’s won – and was notably outjumped by both Jannik Vestergaard of Southampton and Jeffery Schlupp of Crystal Palace, with both incidents leading directly to goals conceded.
With both Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo – both of whom admittedly have issues of their own to deal with – still at Old Trafford, can it be long before Solskjaer decides either man is a better option than Lindelof? Simply put, the Swede’s form needs to improve quickly if he wants to retain his place in the starting line-up.