English football is set for an extended break after the Premier League confirmed that fixtures wouldn’t be played until April 30th at the earliest.
Of course, this news isn’t too much of a surprise, with the ongoing situation meaning that sport in general has understandably taken a back seat. However, the statement from the authorities shows that there is a desire to finish the season, something which many involved in the game saw as necessary.
And that could benefit Manchester United more than most, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be able to welcome back two big hitters in the form of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford.
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) February 28, 2020
After a turbulent start to the season, things have now settled down for the Red Devils and you could argue that the enforced break came at the wrong time. That’s because the defence has looked settled, there is finally a positive atmosphere around the club and Bruno Fernandes has made a huge impact since joining.
So, on one hand, this has ruined the momentum that United have built up over the past few months and it can be hard to get that back. However, in the bigger picture, it allows United to welcome back two influential figures who can ensure they are capable of competing on two fronts for the remainder of the campaign.
As we know, the only aim for United is to ensure they are back in the Champions League next season. It will bring obvious financial benefits but it will also help the club attract better players as they look to establish themselves as the top team in England once again in the coming years, so playing in the biggest club competition is imperative.
The major positive is that United can achieve that goal through either the Premier League or the Europa League. Solskjaer’s men are certainly capable of overturning the three-point gap Chelsea hold over them domestically, whilst they are favourites in the football betting to win the Europa League – and they merit that tag. And those odds are sure to be influenced by the fact that Pogba and Rashford will now be able to play a part in the run-in.
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) April 13, 2019
Firstly, you have to say that Fernandes’s arrival means the need for Pogba is no longer what it was. With Nemanja Matic excelling as the defensive midfielder and Fred much improved, the Frenchman actually has a battle on his hands to get in the XI. Plus, he’s not endearing himself to the club or the fans with the constant noise that comes from agent Mino Raiola about a potential move away.
Nevertheless, the fact United have coped without Pogba might have damaged his ego somewhat. He isn’t the main man and fans are bored about discussing his future, so the midfielder needs to get back to doing what he did best – playing well. If that’s to engineer a transfer or just to remind the public of his talent, the reality is that United will benefit for the run-in if they get a motivated Pogba out on the pitch.
As for Rashford, his importance is obvious. That strong defensive base that United now have means they only need to score one or two to win games and bringing the England international back is going to ensure the Red Devils have another major weapon in the final third. He gives the team a real threat in transition and is the most natural goalscorer at the club.
So, whilst United fans will be frustrated at the current situation, they could be the big winners as welcoming back Pogba and Rashford to this improved team makes them a dangerous prospect to their rivals as they seek a return to the Champions League.