Another baffling week at Manchester United leaves their battle for Champions League football reliant on wins against Chelsea, Huddersfield and Cardiff.
After an embarrassing drubbing at Goodison Park, United lost tamely to Manchester City to at least get the weird dilemma of most Manchester United fans out of the way. Needing to give Liverpool the chance to win the title was a horrible cognitive dissonance akin to how it feels listening to Morrissey gradually morph into a horrible xenophobe whilst still loving his Smiths music.
In fantasy terms Manchester United have been an increasing liability since knocking Paris St Germain out of the Champions League. From Solskjaer’s first game against Cardiff to the PSG second leg United scored an average of 2.41 goals a game with only Spurs and Liverpool preventing United scoring at least 2.
Since the famous comeback in Paris United have averaged 0.83 goals a game as well as crashing out of both cup competitions with limp performances. United’s average xG in the two periods has gone from 2.13 to 1.64
Have the players packed it in on Solskjaer now he’s been appointed permanent manager? It certainly looks that way, there was always going to be a slight comedown after the initial euphoria of Jose’s departure but the performance at Everton was alarming – certainly as bad as anything since Ferguson left. One thing to remember though is just how obsessed with image Ed Woodward is, he will not be the man to sack Solskjaer unless there’s a serious issue, the fans will never turn on a club legend so some of the players could be in for a rude awakening.
Where does this leave the fantasy assets? In a period where many will still have a triple captain chip remaining the temptation to use it on a United player in GW38 against Cardiff is a huge one.
We can discount Anthony Martial due to lack of certainty of his starts plus the young Frenchman seems to be one of the only players to have regressed since Mourinho’s departure – 7 goals and 2 assists under the toxic tyrant has become 3 goals and 2 assists under the Baby faced assassin. That is a worrying trend although it has to be said the Frenchman has never seen an inconsistent spell he didn’t like the look of.
Romelu Lukaku can be ruled out unless they start giving bonus points for putting your thumbs up to a colleague after mis-controlling a throughball, indeed the Belgian can control it further than I can kick it.
This leaves us with Rashford who can be ruled out, 2 goals since gameweek 25 and a repositioning to wide forward dilute the youngsters appeal; and Paul Pogba.
The French World Cup winner has predictably become a lightening rod for United’s slump. Pogba often can’t do right for doing wrong, he is accused of being flashy and playing for himself only to play in a wonderfully disciplined defensive role (see Belgium in the World Cup semi, Liverpool and Barcelona at home this season) then he is accused of not imposing himself on games enough despite 13 goals from midfield.
Even against Everton he wasn’t the main problem, not losing a tackle, always demanding the ball trying to make things happen. Is he a trying to force a move and being disruptive? Probably? “Lads it’s modern football.” The truth is United couldn’t replace him if he forced a move but Pogba is probably too good to play for a side that is on its way to finishing outside the top 4 for the fourth time in six years.
What does this mean as a triple captain option? Be careful. If Cardiff are relegated by 38 that is a great fixture for a TC but with Liverpool having Huddersfield at home and Manchester City playing Leicester and Brighton in a title run in they could be better games to plump for. The only issues I’m going with Liverpool and City players is which do you go for and is TC on Salah against Huddersfield much of a differential as many will already be captaining him.
Pogba’s xG has gone from 0.6 per game to 0.36 since the PSG win, and even the 0.36 is inflated by two penalties against West Ham. The loss of Herrera has seen Pogba play deeper with even Scot Mctominay playing further ahead of Pogba in recent appearances.
In short despite the fixtures using a Triple Captain on a Pogba or a United player probably just isn’t worth the hassle unless you have a mini league deficit to reel in. The only positive stat in TC Pogba argument is that if his 23 goals and assists in FPL 15 were against botttom half teams and averages 14.7 points per game against the teams in the relegation zone.
My outlandish prediction for Pogba in 38? He will be dropped by Solskjaer for disciplinary reasons and storm away from the ground. So when you’re picking your triple captain this season ask yourself what would Roy Keane do?