Solskjaer must act quickly to improve Red Devils’ poor form against Newcastle
Manchester United to win 2-1
The optimism which surrounded Manchester United at the start of the season has long since disappeared.
Crashing defeats against Crystal Palace and Tottenham, with just the one very lucky victory at Brighton to shout about, means that their lofty ambitions for this season currently lie close to tatters.
A desperate end to the transfer window, complete with things going from bad to worse for their captain and world’s most expensive defender Harry Maguire, provides much cause for concern to manager Solskjaer.
They need something to sharply turn around their fortunes.
As for Newcastle, they will be relatively happy with their start. Two strong wins sandwiched either side of a poor defeat shows that this may be a season of mixed emotions for Magpies fans. They currently sit in 9th, however, which represents an upgrade on previous seasons.
It’s Manchester United, though, who have more at stake here this weekend.
Form Guide (all comps): WWLWD
Reasons to be cheerful:
Strong performances for their two wins
Exciting Saint-Maximin signed new six-year deal
Reasons to be fearful:
The world is expecting a Man United response after 6-2 defeat
Still a number of injury concerns
Manager Steve Bruce will be quietly confident going forward into the next phase of the season.
His squad have that much-desired mix of youth and experience, and their new signings have bedded in quickly at the start of the season. Callum Wilson in particular looks like a top piece of business as a goalscorer, with four goals in as many games for the Magpies.
Even though the International break has allowed their injured players time to recover, they still face being without the likes of Dubravka, Gayle, Ritchie and possibly key defender Lascelles – all on the treatment table.
They also face a tricky run of fixtures following Man United, with games against Wolves, table-toppers Everton and Chelsea within the next month. If they come through this period with a few points to show for it, they’ll be happy.
Whether they get anything out of this Man United side, however, will likely depend on the Red Devils.
Star Man – Callum Wilson
With four goals in four matches, the striker has hit the ground running at his new home.
Form Guide (all comps): LWWWL
Reasons to be cheerful
New signings will give the dressing room a lift
Only four defeats in 20 years against Newcastle
Reasons to be fearful
Captain Harry Maguire is desperately out of form
Rumours surrounding Solskjaer’s future as manager
Even a defeat against Newcastle this weekend is unlikely to cost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job, although there have been rumours this week of Mauricio Pochettino being lined up in the background as a replacement.
There will be huge doubts in Ole’s mind about the current state of his squad going into this next phase of the season.
His captain and main defender Harry Maguire looks shot of confidence and his form has hit rock-bottom. He could do with a break from the sport, but is unlikely to get it with United needing him at his best immediately.
United’s problem is not going forward, with fearsome attacking players, but rather keeping the ball out of their own net having conceded 11 goals already in the league.
They must quickly rediscover the form from the end of last season if they have any hopes of a top four push again this time around.
They need an immediate response
Star Man – Marcus Rashford
Busy receiving an MBE last week, he must now lead the line in Anthony Martial’s absence.
Man United must be proactive and take the game to Newcastle
Newcastle likely to get chances with Red Devils’ shaky defence
Likely to be a tight game with one goal between them
Marcus Rashford will lead the line for Man United this weekend as Martial serves his suspension. They could do with him being at his sharpest, especially with new signing Edinson Cavani waiting in the wings.
Left-back Alex Telles could also make his debut after signing on transfer deadline day. His quality is sorely needed and could go straight into the starting XI.
Solskjaer’s team must be positive to get a result here. If they let the game drift, then Newcastle will grow in confidence and feel they can take the points here.
Man United are favourites, but we’ve seen bigger shocks in the past.
Manchester United to win 2-1