Inability to Finish is the Worst of Manchester United’s Issues


Once again Manchester United controlled possession (59%-41%), had more shots (21-10) and put more of those shots on goal (8-2) than their opponent. Once again the Red Devils dropped points, as they just can’t finish. Why isn’t this team more clinical?

“We are one down, to be fair, but we just didn’t find the right one,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said of the striker situation on his roster during his press conference ahead of today’s 1-1 draw with Southampton. “We didn’t find the answer that we wanted.”

The Norwegian, who has seen his club let two forwards (Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez) go without finding a replacement, continued to articulate exactly what is most wrong with United this season.

“We are creating but of course you are always looking for someone to improve us and we were looking,” Solskjaer said on Friday.

“It’s about taking the chances. We have created enough in the first three games to have nine points so we have to be more clinical, we have to work on the last pass, the last finish, but we have created enough chances to win – and maybe score penalties.”

United’s draw at the St. Mary’s today means that they have now dropped points in their last eight straight away games across all competitions. Being unable to cinch a victory, while up a man for the final 17 minutes plus injury time, is simply inexcusable.

Their problems are multiple, but converting chances into points is the most pressing issue. United is seriously a better team than how they appear in the results thus far.


They have only five points from their first four games, and that total conveys the misfortune they have had on the young season, but what can be done about it?

This past week, former United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said he’s still capable of performing in the Premier League, joking that “if United needs me, I’m here.”

Solskjaer said yesterday that he would entertain the idea, and at least take the Swede’s phone call. Although he also admitted that it’s a transaction that probably won’t happen.

“If he was 28 and not 38 [in October], there’s a big difference,” Solskjaer continued.

“Zlatan had a great time here, he’s still doing well, it’s unfortunate he got his injury here. Who knows, he knows my number, he looked at my house [when he was here]. We can speak a native language. If he’s serious I’ll always speak to Zlatan.

“I don’t think that will happen, I think he’s had his time at the club, he’s had a fantastic career at the club.”

zlatan ibrahimovic

When you are that close to actually being serious about bringing Ibrahimovic back, it conveys just how the issues in the final third really are right now. The Swede had a great 2016-17 with the club, leading them in scoring, but his time has come and gone.

The manager also articulated why United jettisoned Alexis Sanchez, via a loan deal, to Inter Milan:

“Alexis needed to go. He’s been here for 18 months and it’s not really worked out for him.”

“For him to restart and get himself playing regularly and scoring goals that will only benefit everyone in the end. He will come good for them. For us we had a decision to make. I’m trusting Anthony, Marcus, Mason to be our centre forwards.”

So what are United going to do? How are they going to cope with this problem? Apparently in-house, relying on the youth they have. Don’t expect Old Trafford to tap into the free agent market.

“We’ve got wingers in Chongy [Tahith Chong], Dan James, [Andreas] Pereira,” OGS concluded.

ALEXIS sanchez

“We’ve got loads of options. For me it’s time for our boys to feel that pressure and responsibility, to be more robust, to know they have to play five games in a row.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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  1. Too late to get Bruno Fernandes now; we’ve probably lost him to Real Madrid. They deemed him not good enough in passing the ball! Have you seen Pogba, McTominay, Lingard, Pereira et al? At least Fernandes can shoot from distance and probably convert penalties too.

  2. paulmbanks says

    These are all good points Alec.
    I agree. they really should have done something in the midfield this summer transfer window.

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