Manchester United finished last season on a high after battling their way into the top-four of the Premier League and securing a spot in this year’s Champions League qualification. Fans had hoped the Red Devils had finally turned a corner, but all is not rosy in the Old Trafford garden.
After splashing the cash on several high-profile players 12 months ago, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been rather more reserved in this summer’s transfer window. That worries many supporters who believe the club must continue to invest if they are to improve and challenge the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League trophy.
A rough start to this season has ramped up the pressure on Man Utd and it’s becoming increasingly obvious relying on the current crop of players for success will prove to be a dangerous tactic. What must Ole do before the transfer window slams shut to get his team back on track? We examine a few of the options open to him.
New signing scores on debut
Manchester United’s main piece of business over the summer was bringing in Donny van de Beek from Ajax for a fee reported to be in the region of £40m. The talented Dutchman arrived at Old Trafford from Ajax but there were question marks over that deal, critics and certain tabloids suggesting it was a panic buy from the club and a player they didn’t need. Was van de Beek the answer to their problems?
It took little time for the newbie to prove his worth, scoring on his club debut at Old Trafford against Crystal Palace. Donny came off the bench as a second half substitute and found the net on 80 minutes in what should have been a dream start for the player. The only problem was his goal came as slight consolation in a painful 3-1 defeat against Crystal Palace, a club many pundits expect to struggle this season but one that were good value for the points that day.
Telles a target at left-back
In the match against Palace, it was obvious van de Beek will have a part to play for Man Utd this season but it was also apparent that the club need at least two more big money signings, including a central defender to help tighten up a leaky backline.
One reported target is Alex Telles who is currently making a name for himself at FC Porto. The gifted left-back is as strong in defence as he is impressive going forward and many believe the 27-year-old can boost the left side of Solskjaer’s defence.
The Brazilian has been involved in more than 80 goals for his current employers, but he won’t come cheap with a £20m price tag reported. Man Utd’s desperation to get their man may drive the cost up further if Porto are willing to play the waiting game. Speculation linking Telles with United could also ignite interest from other English sides.
Traders expect United to beat Spurs
Manchester United now face a critical autumn as Premier League and Champions League games begin to come thick and fast. They begin October with a home tie against Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham and the Special One, a former United manager, would love to pile pressure on his former club. United then welcome Chelsea and Arsenal in a seven-day period. It will be an exciting time for football punters with major bookmakers offering enhanced odds in the upcoming United games.
The current betting odds following defeat to Crystal Palace has Man Utd as favourites to defeat Tottenham on 3 October and bookmakers remain confident the club can retain their place in the top-four. A title challenge already seems unlikely, with Man City favourites to regain their crown ahead of Liverpool who are hopeful of grabbing two-in-a-row. On the continent and backers will find the Red Devils eighth in the outright market to relive former glories and win the 2020/21 Champions League.
The history books show Manchester United last won the English Premier League in 2013 and last got their hands on the famous Champions League trophy back in 2008 when beating Chelsea on penalties in the final.