Man Utd out of gas, Rashford in bad form and Pogba on possible verge of exit – Solskjaer has lots to sort for Leicester

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AFTER the 2-2 draw with Southampton, the question I was asked was whether or not I thought United were strong enough mentally to clinch Champions League qualification.

I still think they’ll do it, but since the home game against the Saints we’ve seen United comprehensively beaten 3-1 by Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, and then comfortably held 1-1 by West Ham at Old Trafford.

It’s doubly frustrating because the route to the Champions League could have been sewn up if United had won their last two home league games, and while it’s still in their own hands, it makes for a nail-biting finale to the campaign at Leicester on Sunday.

 

So, are we really seeing signs of collective mental weakness?

I still think the time to judge is post Leicester City, but somehow, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to re-energise his side for one last performance in the Premier before turning his attention to the Europa League.

A lot has been said about David De Gea, the defence, and in particular Harry Maguire’s form.

But, other than goals against Crystal Palace and Southampton, Marcus Rashford’s all round performances will be a cause for concern for his manager.

That extra burst of pace and unpredictability in the final third appears to have temporarily deserted him, and it would seem that in general, he’s receiving the ball in far deeper positions than he was before lockdown.

We shouldn’t forget Rashford’s fine work away from the pitch, but supporters will be eager for him to find his best form quickly, starting this weekend.

Has the virus and the sudden rush of games exposed a fault in Solskjaer’s man management and team selection, where basically his side are running out of gas at a critical time of the campaign?

We can’t be too critical given the unforeseen impact the coronavirus has had, but after such a fine run, it would be such a shame if United ran out of legs now.

Perhaps he could have “rested” more players against Chelsea in the cup.

It was a game that just felt uncomfortable from the beginning, rather than an FA Cup semi-final.

We’ve seen flashes of what Pogba is capable of since his return but he was certainly at fault for West Ham’s goal on Wednesday evening.

We know that the Europa League is still to be decided, but could the game against Leicester City be his final league one for the club?

Pogba remains a distraction and the recent handball incident highlighted once more his defensive frailties.

It’s been noticeable in recent weeks that the Frenchman has appeared more frequently on the club’s in-house channel and Sky Sports, and there have been murmurings of a new deal.

However, you do wonder what United might do if they receive back the £89m they paid out for him in 2016.

If it is to be one of Pogba’s final games, then hopefully he can go out with a bang as well.

The game against Leicester isn’t just a title decider, it could signal the end of Premier League football for a few of Solskjaer’s squad.

If he does fail, it might also mean that players like Jadon Sancho look elsewhere for a move, rather than Old Trafford.

Follow Tom McDermott on Twitter – https://twitter.com/MrTomMcDermott

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