Manchester United travel to Southampton on Saturday evening as they attempt to bounce back from their defeat to Crystal Palace.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows he’ll have a tough task on his hands against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side, while injuries are also taking their toll.
First-team regulars Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial will miss the clash at St Mary’s, with Ashley Young and teenager Mason Greenwood likely to deputise.
But how are fans feeling ahead of the clash with the Saints, which you can hear live commentary of the 12:30pm kick-off live on talkSPORT as part of our GameDay coverage.
Here at talkSPORT.com we spoke to Manchester United fan and football writer Marwan Harraz to get the lowdown on the situation at Old Trafford after an intriguing summer of signings, sales, and more.
How are you feeling about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s management right now?
Simply put – I believe in Solskjaer. It hasn’t quite worked in terms of form from the tail end of last season but there are plenty of signs that he will turn it all around if given the right time.
Transfer-wise he’s got it right in terms of incomings and when it comes to outgoings he’s getting rid of the right players, though he’ll probably feel let down by the board’s incompetence to sign more players and offload players properly.
Tactically he’s playing just like how Manchester United fans want him to but he has to be given a few transfer windows to see his style in full flow. I feel those who criticise him are simply being impatient.
How have summer signings Harry Maguire, Daniel James, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka settled in?
They’ve all settled in brilliantly and shown Manchester United fans just what they were missing.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka has arguably been the best of them with Harry Maguire not as impressive as the former Eagle. Daniel James is probably the rawest of them but even he’s shown what he has to offer with two goals in three appearances.
Do you have any concerns about the naivety of James following his celebration last week?
I don’t at all. I think it’s been blown out of proportion. It was always going to take time for him to adjust and while he hasn’t needed to in terms of his ability, he probably does need to alter his mentality.
James will have to get that winning mentality on board and I have no doubts that’ll happen. We have to keep in mind everything he went through over the summer in terms of personal affairs and he naturally celebrated after scoring what he thought was a last-minute equaliser after being berated all game for ‘diving’.
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How weakened have Manchester United been by the sale of Romelu Lukakau and exit of Alexis Sanchez?
The argument could be made they both could have potentially adjusted to Solskjaer’s tactics but now we’ll never find out.
Their departures means we’re weak in numbers but not necessarily in quality. The problem is it puts a little too much pressure, for my liking, on the youngsters to perform such as the likes of Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood.
In my opinion they should be coming into a settled, consistent side so they have the best platform to perform rather than being thrown into the deep-end.
What needs to be learnt after the defeat to Crystal Palace?
Solskjaer needs a solution to his midfield problem. Even though United won all their pre-season fixtures well, it was clearly they would struggle against defensive sides and unfortunately the majority of their opponents will play in a similar manner to Palace.
Playing Fred alongside Scott McTominay and pushing Paul Pogba up to an attacking-midfield position may see United move the ball quicker and unlock defences better but a lot of that hinges on the Brazilian being ready to perform. Alternatively Juan Mata or Angel Gomes can be given a shot at the role.
What does Jesse Lingard offer the team?
The problem with Lingard is when he’s good, he’s pretty good and when he’s bad, he’s pretty bad so he gets praised, probably too much when he’s performing and he gets criticised, also probably too much when he’s not.
At the moment he offers very little if nothing and so he has to be dropped despite Solskjaer’s favouritism. When he picks up his performances then he can get his place back in the side and hopefully put in displays similar to the one as when he took apart Arsenal at the Emirates.
How should Manchester United go about beating Southampton?
Southampton lost their last two matches so they’re not in the best of form either but at home they’re likely to come out of their defensively shell a bit more. This means they’ll play right into United’s hands and so Solskjaer’s devastating counter-attacks could see us through if we hold our nerve defensively in the beginning.
Unfortunately, playing on the counter-attack means Lingard’s pace will probably be needed, especially with Anthony Martial reportedly out for the match.
What is your prediction for the match against Southampton?
I think Solskjaer will be keen on putting an end to his side’s inconsistent form and stamp it out quickly so I expect a more lively performance and a relatively easy win. 3-1 is my guess with United’s defence weakened by Luke Shaw’s absence and Ashley Young’s potential inclusion.
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