After a lacklustre 0-0 draw to Wolves at Old Trafford last weekend, Manchester United are now partaking in a two-week winter break from matches following an intense schedule from December to February.
United players such as Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bisakka, Daniel James and Andreas Pereira have looked ‘out on their feet’ during recent weeks. The lightness of the squad has prevented any possibility of rotating players, except those staying in the squad but playing out of position.
It’s easy to forget that football players aren’t machines and are unable to turn off from the demands both physically and mentally that top-flight football demands. With that in mind, a break, you’d expect, will be a benefit to Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s misfiring side.
Unfortunately, there is a still a remaining concern that, despite a short period of recuperation, key players in the squad will not be fit for the team’s return to action. Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay & Marcus Rashford are still expected absentees for the trip to Stamford Bridge on 17th February.
Solskjær has become dependant on those three in particular for creativity and goals and their absence has certainly been noticed, putting the Norwegian’s coaching ability in question. United’s lack of system or any form of structure within the side has also left question marks over Solskjær’s suitability to the managerial role at the club, with Mauricio Pochettino waiting in the wings.
Though in fairness to Solskjær, the squad remains largely inexperienced and players such as Andreas Pereira have struggled with both the mental and physical side of the game, according to the Manchester Evening News. The Manchester-based outlet report that Pereira has been struggling to sleep at night due to his and the club’s poor form.
Given the turbulent state of the club, volatility amongst the fan base is completely understood. What fans must not be confused by is misplacing empathy for apathy, particularly towards those who are at least front and centre, in the firing line trying to fight for something.
The winter break has come at the perfect time, both for Solskjær and his players, but also for fans who have had to endure more United matches than perhaps they would have liked in recent weeks. The signings of Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo in January also provide a boost and something to be excited about going forward as the Red Devils continue in their hunt for Champions League football.
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