It was a poetic end to preseason for new United signing Daniel James as his penalty won the game against AC Milan in his home country. Plenty of United fans from Wales had come to the game especially to see Dan James play, as pre-game interviews by MUTV revealed. It has been a fulgurant ascension for the young Welsh winger, from playing for Swansea in the Championship to joining one of the best clubs in the country.
Dan James played for half an hour in the 2-2 draw, impressing alongside fellow substitute youngsters Greenwood and Angel Gomes. The three took their penalties with much aplomb, showing composure in the face of Milan stopper Gianluigi Donnaruma.
While the game revealed how the pace of Rashford and Martial could hurt opponents, how Lingard could be used as a super sub and the usual brilliance of David De Gea, it also showed United’s weaknesses.
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The main problem was the lack of creativity in central midfield. With Pogba’s injury forcing a Matic-Mctominay midfield partnership, it fell to Juan Mata to dictate the play and he struggled. Mata is an intelligent, experienced player but his lack of pace, inability to shoot from outside the box and size meant he did not really trouble AC Milan.
Paul Pogba, while possessing Mata’s creativity, also provides qualities Mata cannot. Without him, United labored to trouble the Milan back line. It’s primordial United keep hold of Pogba, at least for the upcoming season. Based on Solskjaer’s post-game comments, it looks like the Frenchman is staying put.
A second player who can play in the Pogba role in the team is needed at Old Trafford. With so many games in the modern game, United cannot rely on Pogba for all games. Bruno Fernandes’ name has been linked with United a lot these days and he might be the answer to United’s issues. Fernandes was an assist machine in Portugal last season and alongside Pogba could help boost the United midfield.
With the addition of Wan Bissaka and soon-to-be signing Harry Maguire, United have shored up their leaky defense. Dan James, Mason Greenwood and Tahith Chong are future stars. In the immediate future, they need a creative player like Bruno Fernandes or Paulo Dybala to challenge for trophies.