April 19, 2021

Man Utd

News

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer already knows what he needs to fix at Manchester United

3 min read

Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Brighton all but sealed Champions League football at Old Trafford again next season.

As things stand, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are nine points clear of Chelsea in fifth with eight games to go. Of course, this means participation in Europe’s top competition isn’t yet mathematically secured, however it would take a disastrous capitulation from this point for the Reds not to make it over the line.

Whilst this is a positive, the 14-point gap between United in second and rivals City in first will be a disappointment for Solskjaer and closing that gulf will be a key objective for the team next season.

There’s a number of ways this can be done, such as adding more consistency to their game and recruiting upgrades in a number of key areas in the summer, this latter point is well highlighted and heavy links to the likes of Erling Haaland remain prevalent.

However, there are other more subtle improvements that can be made which could go on to have a hugely positive impact on the team’s points return next season – one of which is being better at stopping the opposition from taking the lead.



MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – APRIL 04: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manager of Manchester United looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Brighton managed this on Sunday, and it was a displeasure that Solskjaer referenced in his post-match interview despite the eventual victory.

The United boss said, “You don’t really want to be in those positions, 1-0 down. It was a sloppy mistake in midfield, we don’t stop the cross, we don’t defend the cross, so we gave ourselves work to do. I think we’ve done that so many times this season”.

So far this season, United have conceded first on 12 occasions, whilst rivals City have conceded first on just four occasions – that’s three times fewer.

This is a big issue because it’s been statistically proven that your chances of securing a victory do tend to dramatically decrease if the opposition score first. In fact, in the Premier League last season, the team that scored first went onto win the match just under 70% of the time.

One upshot of conceding a large proportion of these early goals is that United have been able to illustrate a strong spirit in overcoming these initial setbacks to come from behind and secure positive results, as they did against Brighton on Sunday.

Furthermore, their average points return of 2.08 from games in which they conceded first is the best in the league.

Yet even so, cutting this down next season to a number similar to that of their cross-town rivals will no doubt hand their points return a big boost and hopefully take them closer towards battling for the Premier League crown.

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