Why Man United's lack of squad depth could cost them the title

United's reserves struggled against Bretnford
United's reserves struggled against Bretnford
Sam Curran

With the signings of Varane and Sancho, Man United look to have a very strong first 11. De Gea or Henderson in goal, a back four of Wan Bissaka, Maguire, Varane and Shaw, a midfield of potentially Fernandes, McTominay and Van De Beek with Sancho and Rashford on the wings alongside either Cavani or Greenwood. This is a starting lineup that could conceivably win the league and looks to be on a par with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City. However, over the course of a long season you need your squad and Man United's second string is nowhere near as strong as their first eleven.

Pre-season struggles for Man United

It's not been the best preparation for the season for Man United. A win against in-crisis Derby County was followed by a humbling 4-2 defeat to QPR and they then played out an entertaining draw against Premier League newcomer Brentford. Admittedly, hardly any of the players who will be regular starters next season played with the exception of Wan-Bissaka, Greenwood and potentially Lingard. Nevertheless, it was a stark illustration of the lack of quality that Man United's reserves possess, being well beaten by a Championship side and struggling to a draw against newly promoted Brentford where they twice gave up a lead.

Lack of cover in defence a worry for the Reds

A first choice back 4 of Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Varane and Shaw is very strong and provides pace, power and assists. The worry would be the players who would play should any of them get injured. Dalot and Williams seem to be the only covers for Wan-Bissaka and neither have impressed in pre-season. Dalot looked shaky against Brentford and Williams has never looked like being able to meet the physical demands of the Premier League. At center back, Lindelof, Bailly and Tuanzebe are far inferior to Maguire and Varane. Lindelof struggles for pace, Bailly is always injured and Tuanzebe looks like he always has a mistake in him. Alex Telles provides some cover for Luke Shaw but he is injured and will miss the start of the season. The lack of quality behind the first choice back 4 could cost Man United in a closely contested title race.

Some promise up-front

Whilst Man United may be short of cover at the back, there does seem to be some hope in the forward positions. Anthony Elanga has had a great pre-season, scoring against QPR and Brentford as well as netting on his debut against Wolves last season. He looks powerful, fast and has an eye for goal. Pellistri has also caught the eye in pre-season with his direct running and pace and looks to be an upgrade on Dan James in cover for the wide positions up front. Amad Diallo has a clear quality and will only get better with age. The good news is that all of these players are teenagers who are nowhere near their peak so they have a lot of improvement to come and are all showing very promising signs.

Whilst Man United may have some attacking promise in their reserves, they do look to be short as a whole, especially in defense. It may just be that their lack of squad depth denies them the Premier League title once again.

Edited by Arnav Kholkar
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