So after weeks of inevitability Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in charge of Manchester United permanently. I’m delighted if apprehensive. I’m worried a club legend will end up out of a job at some point through no fault of his own. For all of Jose Mourinho’s flaws, some of his complaints about the make up of the squad and transfer policy were valid and will need addressing.
What Solskjaer has already done is make Manchester United players FPL options again. With only 6 weeks left of this season I’ll be looking with interest for if we can buy three United players at the start of next season and using these last few weeks as a scouting exercise. The fixtures are a real mixed bag with a double gameweek in 35 of Everton A, Manchester City H followed by Chelsea in 36. Around that though are home games against West Ham and Cardiff and an away trip to Huddersfield. This on top of a mouthwatering Champions League tie against Barcelona and semi final and final. (Well you’ve got to dream – 20 years since Solskjaer won the trophy as a player at the Nou Camp? Name. On. The. Trophy.)
Here are the five scouting focuses for next season:
De Gea and Defence
Easy this, still concede too many chances and still missing a real dominant centre back to play with the ever improving silky Lindelof. In short until de Gea signs a new deal and United buy a top quality centre back United aren’t an option for the start of next season.
Sounds an obvious one this given his form since Solskjaer took charge. Pogba has 8 goals and 7 assists in 14 league games and is owned by 43 percent of the game. Based on that and the presumed purchase of a central midfielder to free him up higher up the pitch Pogba would look to be a certainty to be in our teams next season. A word of warning though, Pogba is in 43 percent of teams because he was 7.8 million when Solskjaer took over. His form since then means he will likely be a 10 million pound player next season. That could be a lot of money for a player coming off his first ever double figure goal return and who might spend all year flirting with Real Madrid.
Pogba is a great, unique player – comfortably the best midfielder in the league, but we need to watch out for his position – Solskjaer has already spoken of playing him deeper to alleviate the struggles in midfield, his mood and agents words, and his consistency of goal threat. Pogba is flavour of the month currently but the jury is out on whether he’s worth 10 million.
Lukaku has had another mixed bag of a season. A decent goal return despite not quite looking a Manchester United player. His FPL returns look to be his lowest since before his West Brom days. If Lukaku only plays a handful of games between now and the end of the season he can’t be considered next season even if his price plummets to the 9.0 million mark.
Solskjaer’s favourite. Since Ole took charge Rashford has flourished and looks to be the first choice forward. Rashford had clearly benefited from Solskjaer’s gentler approach and has certainly received advice on his finishing after Solskjaer said he needs to be calmer and clearer in his thought process in front of goal. A clear difference to Mourinho’s clear distrust of young attacking players.
The only thing we need to look out for in Rashford this season is how strongly he finishes the season and how close to 25 goals and assists he can get, currently on 10 goals and 7 assists Rashford needs to carry on his rate to reassure us for next season. He, like Pogba, was available at a bargain price when Solskjaer took over – 6.9 million and his still less than 8 million. He looks certain to start next season in the 9-9.5 million bracket and on current form would look a better option than Vardy, Firmino, Lacazette in that price range.
My real target for next season. Martial has had another good season if a bit more under the radar given his best form came under Mourinho. After his winner against Watford Martial is on 10 goals and 3 assists at 7.2 million. What’s interesting about Martial is that even after 9 goals and 6 assists last season Martial’s starting price this season still dropped to 7.5 million.
If Martial gets the starting berth for most of the remaining games and still ticks over the points whilst remaining in the shadow of Pogba and Rashford he could be must own next season. His price looks likely to remain around the 7.5 million – 8 million mark for next season and could be a real steal for the start of next season and indeed at 7.1 million now could be a wildcard option at only 3.6% ownership.