Lack of leadership stopping Manchester United in its search for silverware

Another semi-final, another defeat for Manchester United fans. In other news, the grass is green.

It hurts even more to know that the Red Devils had just finished number 21 in the Premier League title in January as well.

Jokes aside, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side lost in the Carabao Cup semi-final to Manchester City for the second year in a row in a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford, which understandably left fans disappointed and of course elicited a mass overreaction.

From Donny van de Beek barely getting his shoes dirty in four minutes to another disappointing defensive performance, United take two steps forward and three steps back. For the fans, this is extremely frustrating and indicates that there is still work to be done.

The defeat is humiliating and even necessary to be taken if this club is to truly make good progress and return to the top of the football ladder. It is a reminder that when facing a truly superior team, United still lack the authority to control key areas of a 90-minute game.

It gets a little boring talking about defensive issues at Old Trafford, but it has to be said until changes are made. Two mistakes at the back cost United two goals against their home rivals; the first was a poor defense by Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof against a free kick that should have been dealt with, while Fernandinho’s winner came from a lazy clearance from Aaron Wan-Bissaka and could have been saved by Dean Henderson.

City’s second goal was preventable | Pool / Getty Images

Although they have already spent a lot of money on defenders, United need to sign at least one new center as soon as possible. One left side in particular should be the priority, but any authoritative and dominant presence that can team up with Maguire – let’s face it, he’s not going anywhere – and desperately provide some organization and urgency to a seemingly prone rear line. to mistakes in every game.

Of course, going for the young is what’s cool and trendy in football these days, but Leicester has proven with Johnny Evans and Milan proves in Italy with Simon Kjaer that experience is key; United need someone at the back to control the game and ease the nerves of the young heads around them – and make Maguire look better.

While there is certainly still room to wrap up an attack that is so close with one or two more signings ahead, the trophies won’t come without team leaders who know how to win in big games. Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandes have gone a little way to restore this, but these two alone aren’t big enough. With the exception of Zlatan Ibrahimovic from 2016 to 2018, United sorely lacked a caliber of player with both game-defining ability and arrogance enough to lure a team to trophies. Adding that trait to the team – in the right areas – is the next crucial step.

Fernandes is running the games in this way against attack, so the Red Devils must continue to build the spine. A top defensive midfielder sitting in front of a defender at the height of his powers would add security at the back and allow United to better dominate big games rather than having to rely on counter-attacking football, which is partly the reason for the semi-final. jinx. Adding a world-class winger to the frame could also ease the pressure on Fernandes to deliver every game and prevent Mason Greenwood from being used out of position.

Bruno Fernandes
United must be wary of relying too much on Bruno Fernandes | Michael Regan / Getty Images

It is undeniable that this is the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement that United appear to have made considerable progress. There are still question marks over Solskjaer tactically, but his influence on the squad he managed to put together is clear as day.

Now it is up to the club to get back on that base and add one last feeling of edge to the side in order to provide a trophy-winning ability for a team that is almost there but lost on young heads.