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Manchester United

Solskjaer banking on youthful exuberance in United's push for the top four

General preview 2019/20

SOLSKJAER'S POSITIVITY CANNOT MASK NEED FOR TRANSFER INJECTION

Last year on tour, the United manager was too negative and this year the United manager has perhaps been too positive. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has presided over intense and incisive winning football, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Mason Greenwood have freshened up the right wing problem area and their conduit, Paul Pogba, has stood out in a deeper role. 'His Excellency', as Jose Mourinho named him, has been excellent.

The bigger picture is United are still at least one new player short and have not sold a single player. Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo could have become driftwood, only United extended the former's extension and the latter was the recipient of the most illogical contract since, er, the six-year deal David Moyes signed.

Pre-season news

UNBEATEN RUN SUGGESTS UNITED ARE READY FOR BIG KICK-OFF

Manchester United 2-0 Perth Glory

Rashford, Garner.

Manchester United 4-0 Leeds United

Greenwood, Rashford, Jones, Martial (P).

Manchester United 1-0 Inter Milan

Greenwood.

Tottenham 1-2 Manchester United

Martial, Gomes.

Kristiansund 0-1 Manchester United

Mata (P).

Manchester United 2-2 AC Milan (5-4 on pens)

Rashford, Lingard.

transfer window

UNITED REMAIN SHORT AHEAD OF TRANSFER DEADLINE DESPITE MAGUIRE BREAKTHROUGH

United have been boosted by the purchase of Harry Maguire but remain a midfielder short and this window has the makings of more deadline day dealings. Publicly, Solskjaer remains an eternal optimist but there is only so much he can derive out of a relatively unchanged squad that finished sixth and trophyless last term.

Just like last year, the United manager is into the final week of the Premier League window short of a priority target.

Rating: 5/10

Rating: 7/10

Harry Maguire

Maguire was valued at £75m last year and United are delighted to have acquired him for £80m when Leicester were holding out for a fee in excess of £90m. Unless they activated Toby Alderweireld’s release clause (they were never going to), United knew they were going to have to pay a premium for a centre half and the world record fee is not as steep as it could have been. United view Maguire as a proven leader, Premier League player and international aligned with Solskjaer’s signing strategy and playing style. The acid test awaits, but Maguire has already improved United without having a kick.

Rating: 8/10

Aaron Wan-Bissaka

The 21-year-old took up a good chunk of United's transfer window as Crystal Palace dug in during negotiations until United concluded a £45m deal with £5m in add-ons. Wan-Bissaka already looks cheap and is an undisputed first-teamer, having linked up auspiciously with Pogba and Mason Greenwood down the right. Brave in defence and buccaneering going forward, United finally have a modern right-back.

Rating: 6/10

Daniel James

Daniel James, 21, is not the 'game-changer' forward United wanted but has shown some bright moments in pre-season. Sometimes he looks like what he is - a Championship winger - and James also appears to be more comfortable on the left, where United were already top-heavy. Still, James is selfless, speedy and aids United's pressing. He needs to work on his crossing, though.

Season predictions

UNITED COULD MOVE UP THE TABLE BY DEFAULT

By virtue of Arsenal being in disarray and Chelsea's transfer ban, United could move up the table but if they were to get in the top four it feels like it would maybe be by default and not an accurate gauge of Solskjaer's management, which is proving divisive after the prolonged honeymoon period.