The embarrassing stat which emphasises Manchester United problem
There are plenty of depressing statistics doing the rounds about Manchester United at the moment.
Just as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side looked like they had sparked a revival with three away wins on the spin and they came crashing back down to earth with defeat against Bournemouth at the weekend.
One of the players that Solskjaer called upon to salvage a much needed point at the Vitality on Saturday afternoon was Jesse Lingard. But the England international’s woeful form was not enough to pull United out of their slump.
In fact his statistics go a little way in summing up United’s problems in midfield.
His failure to score or assist after coming off the bench on Saturday meant the 26-year-old hasn’t produced a goal or assist in the league since December last year.
The only time he’s scored this year was against Arsenal in the FA Cup fourth round in January and he hasn’t managed a single shot on target in his eight Premier League appearances so far this season.
In fairness to the academy graduate he has only started four of those eight games but the reason behind that is because he hasn’t warranted a place in the starting XI.
For a while now United have been suffering with creativity in midfield. They’re missing an attacking powerhouse who can link up play and feed the fluid front line of Marcus Rashford, Daniel James and Anthony Martial.
Solskjaer last month suggested United have four options in that position.
“Dan can play in many positions,” Solskjaer said. “As can so many others. Andreas can play there, Juan [Mata] can play there, Jesse [Lingard] can play there. So we’ve got loads of players who can play behind two forwards.”
The issue the United manager has got is that Mata’s best days are behind him James is better out wide, Pereira is hit-and-miss and as the stats show Lingard can’t buy an assist let alone a goal.
Taking Mata out of the equation Lingard is United’s most experienced option in that position yet he’s not good enough to get into the side. Just 18 months ago there was strong debate the the England international was United’s best playmaking option who kept scoring big goals in important games.
The return of Martial after his injury appeared, for a game at least, to have brought some much needed spark back to United’s attacking line but the issues in midfield still persist.
Scott McTominay has been exceptional this season but his role isn’t as a playmaker and the lack of creativity in the middle of the pitch has been a glaring problem for a while.
An in-form Lingard is by no means the final answer for Solskjaer, United need to strengthen in that position, but it could make a big difference in the short term if the 26-year-old could find his form of 18 months ago.