Here are the issues Manchester United can address off the field before their next scheduled fixture against Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Saturday, April 4th:
How To Continue Form
It’s the obvious question; though it feels a little insensitive in the current circumstances to suggest this forced break has come at a bad time for United. Nobody can change what’s happened, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will nevertheless be poring over how he can extend United’s 11-game unbeaten run.
In the behind-closed-doors game against LASK in the Europa League, United looked like a team with a truckload of momentum.
It will be difficult to maintain that over an unforeseen hiatus in action, but United benefited from the official winter break in February and this one — providing everyone stays safe and fully fit — will give players another opportunity to rest.
Solskjaer thanked fans for their support in a recent statement and will be hoping to play in front of a full house again soon.
“I would like to thank our fans for their tremendous support so far this season,” he said. “And we look forward to welcoming them back to Old Trafford as soon as is safely possible.”
The Pogba Situation
Solskjaer’s last press conference before the suspensions came in was after the 5-0 LASK win, in which he revealed he’d had a “nice conversation” with Paul Pogba.
And whether or not they can iron out Pogba’s contract situation, it seems certain that he will return to training in the next couple of weeks, potentially to play a part in the finale of the season.
There have been conflicting reports over Pogba’s future, with some suggesting he’s ready to sign a contract renewal despite previous comments from the player himself and his agent Mino Raiola pointing towards an exit. This could be an issue United are able to resolve by the time they next play a game.
Choosing who to partner Harry Maguire at the back is a small fry dilemma in the grand scheme of things, but it’s been a decision Solskjaer has rarely had to mull over this season.
The form of Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof’s continued solid displays and the rise of Axel Tuanzebe will surely give Solskjaer a difficult call to make in the centre-back positions.
At full-back too, Solskjaer will have a dilemma, with Luke Shaw battling Brandon Williams for a spot.
Potential Fixture Pile Up
It’s probably a decision for the administrators more than the clubs at the moment, but if and when these fixtures are rearranged, there will surely be a huge pile-up of fixtures.
United are still in three major competitions, so if they resume as is currently expected Solskjaer will have a huge task to manage his squad.
It is perhaps a little soon to be thinking ahead to the Brighton game and beyond — such is the fast-moving pace of the coronavirus news story — but United must be prepared for all eventualities. It’s not an easy time for anyone.
(Manchester Evening News)