Dear United : A Letter From A Ghanaian Fan

I had a rough night last night. It was pretty hard finally coming to terms with the fact that there was a high probability you were not going to make top four this season. For a significant period this season, particularly after that 1–0 home victory over Spurs that set you on a winning run until the end of 2016, I had high hopes that a top 4 finish was possible this season based on the run of fixtures you had coming up and the inconsistencies of the teams in the Premier League table. Sure your form against “lower opposition” at home has been questionable, but I truly believed you had enough in you to see out the rest of the season comfortably.

You played two games in the last 5 days and both results at home have once again significantly set you back in the race for a top four finish. Only this time, even with two games in hand, finishing in the top four might be a step too far this season, with games against Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Spurs yet to be played. What does this mean for you going forward? The Europa League has never been more important in your history. Your recruitment of the manager and players this summer signaled a true intent to return to challenging at the highest level with the best teams in the Premier League and in Europe. Failure to qualify for the UEFA Champions League this year would only set you back further in that regard.

I want to tell you about a couple of observations I made from the last two games, beginning with how vital Paul Pogba is to the team. Without him the midfield was clearly lacking something and it was his presence. Something that is massively overlooked and very often, downplayed. At his best he’s all over the place, picking the ball from deep, quickly transitioning the play from defense to attack, works very well with Carrick and Ander Herrera who have also been impressive this season. Do not get me wrong, Fellaini did not do much wrong as the opposition were quite happy sitting deep and hitting on the counter, but Pogba’s absence was evident seeing how turgid the midfield looked.

Anthony Martial was impressive as a striker last season when he played in that role, is it time for him to be considered ahead of Rashford in that role should the main man Ibrahimovic be unavailable?

The team’s inability to take chances in front of goal is becoming more worrying than it has ever been this season. Before the WBA game I was worried about where the goals were going to come from and my fears were proven to be legitimate as chance after chance went begging. Sure, once again, the opposition goalkeeper put in a man-of-the-match at Old Trafford but I cannot bring myself to accept that excuse for the players anymore. If you take a critical look at some of the chances that have been spurned, these international players should really do better.

I found the manager’s comments after the game interesting. He spoke about some of the young players needing all the support they can get at this very difficult time. Then he went on to stress on the fact that the expectations of the club however will always be high and as such, you simply cannot wait on them forever. Sentiments I share very deeply. Once again, and for as many times I have watched him this season since his last Premier League goal back in September, I watched Marcus Rashford spurn another great chance to put United ahead and from that moment, the number of chances he got were fewer and far between. How long are we going to say, but he still has loads of potential in an attempt to console ourselves as fans after watching him fail at the most important aspect of his game as a striker and the very thing that shot him to prominence and international recognition? Anthony Martial was impressive as a striker last season when he played in that role, is it time for him to be considered ahead of Rashford in that role should the main man Ibrahimovic be unavailable?

Ibrahimovic is back and delivered once more, tucking that crucial equalizing penalty away to salvage that dreadful draw against Everton in your last home game. He has been our primary source of goals and hopefully his and Pogba’s return can set the team back on the right course by returning to winning ways beginning with a victory at the Stadium of Light.

Best wishes,

A Ghanaian fan.