By Sammy Walsh
Manchester United have endured a roller coaster season this year. It started with the uninspired performances of the team under Jose at the beginning of the season. The reds just scraped past Leicester in the opening gaming before losing away at Brighton and home to Spurs. A run of three draws on the bounce against Southampton, Arsenal and Palace did little to lift the spirits of the fans in early December.
In mid-December Mourinho’s men suffered a heavy defeat away at Anfield (3-1) the result proved to be the final straw for the board, the club and the Portuguese manager parted company a few days later. United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose and immediately results picked up. A big win away at Cardiff seem to signal a new era at Manchester United; the team was impressive in a thumping 5-1 victory just three days before Christmas.
The good results continued into 2019, notably with wins against Newcastle, Bournemouth and Spurs. Ole won his first six games in charge of the reds. However, United lost to Everton badly in April, and this result was followed by a 0-2 defeat at home to Manchester City. The next league game saw United once again held at home, this time by Chelsea. A dire performance away at Huddersfield pointed to a lack of desire from a number of the United squad. The final game of the season should have proved an opportunity for the players to shine.Nevertheless, another terrible performance and a humiliating 0-2 defeat by Cardiff at Old Trafford will have given Ole much food for thought. Can he continue with a core of players, who at times, don’t seem to care enough? Looking at the current United squad, I would scratch off the names below from the teamsheet before pre-season training begins.
Sanchez had been a stand out player for Arsenal since joining the London side in 2014 from Barcelona. United fans believed we’d snatched another RVP from under the noses of Arsenal. What should’ve have been a fantastic signing for the club, has turned into a nightmare for the player and the fans. The 30-year-old Chilean has played 32 times (PL) for United, but only found the back of the net on three occasions! A woeful statistic for any forward, never mind who is as experienced as Sanchez. To compound the misery, the player arrived at Old Trafford on very lucrative personal terms. Alexis is reportedly on a £350,000-per-week contract – making him the highest earning player in the Premier League! To put that into perspective, he’s earning more per week than many of the top jackpot scratch cards available on the National Lottery. He’s shown nothing in his time at the club to justify that salary; his overblown wages are also having a destabilizing effect on the dressing room. He should be the first player out the door over the summer.
Jones has been with the club since 2011, signing for Alex Ferguson from Blackburn Rovers. The early promise shown by Jones has never materialized, despite being given opportunities to progress by every manager who has been at the club since Fergie retired. In fact, in many ways, Jones has regressed as a defender in recent years. He’s now more famous for his facial contortions than his defensive abilities. At 27-years-old he could still command a half decent transfer fee. Which begs the question – why have United extended his contract to 2023? He should follow Sanchez out the door, although he’ll probably trip on the carpet on the way out.
It gives me no joy to include Ashley Young in this list. I think he has been a great servant to the club over the years. He’s been criticized heavily this season by sections of the crowd for his performances. I would remind everyone that Ashley is 33 years old! And he’s still putting in a bigger shift than many of the younger players (*cough Martial). I think his top-flight playing days are over. Take his name off the teamsheet, but I’d like to see him stay at Old Trafford in some capacity.
David De Gea
Will he stay, or will he go? If David wants to sun himself in Madrid, let him go. He’s the best shot-stopper in the world – no question about that, but his command of the goal area is virtually none existent. I think De Gea is the cause of many of United’s defensive frailties with his inability to come off his line. He’ll generate a decent transfer fee, and we have a fantastic number 2 keeper in Sergio Romero. Step over Jones on the way out, Dave.
In an era where football is about speed & skill, Lukaku lacks either of these qualities. His body shape suggests he’s looking for a career in the ‘Worlds Stronger Man’ competition when his footballing days are over – which could be sooner than he thinks. I’d like to see him out the door with the rest, but will he fit through the door frame?