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December 3, 2019

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Grealish reminder for United

There was one player on the field during Manchester United’s 2-2 English Premier League draw with Aston Villa on Sunday who had the kind of flair, imagination and creativity that the Old Trafford faithful have come to expect over the years.

The problem for those fans was that the player in question was Jack Grealish — the Aston Villa midfielder whose swagger and craft, not to mention his attention to his hairstyle, has more than a hint of former United favorite David Beckham.

Grealish opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a beautiful, curling effort into the top corner — right in front of the Stretford End — and continued to be a threat through the game, making it impossible not to notice the contrast with United’s unimaginative midfield.

In fairness, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is without his best midfielder, injured French star Paul Pogba and he was also lacking the physical presence of Scott McTominay, leaving him with few options.

But the combination of the rarely impressive Brazilian Fred, the fading 31-year-old Juan Mata and the workmanlike Andreas Pereira never took a grip on the game with any authority.

Villa is 15th in the EPL and is unlikely to finish too far away from that position and yet United struggled to impose itself.

Solskjaer, whose side is ninth, level on points with Burnley and Crystal Palace, has struggled to get results in what was billed as a transitional season for his young team.

If United’s hierarchy wants improvement this season then they must surely back Solskjaer in the transfer window and provide him with the missing quality his side needs.

In the summer, United did bring in three additions in defenders Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka and winger Daniel James but more is needed in the winter if United is to avoid a soul-destroying second half of the season.

It needs a commanding presence in the center of midfield, a holding player who can give it the kind of steel that Fernandinho gave Manchester City last season or Fabinho has provided for Liverpool this term.

An alternative or back-up to Anthony Martial at center forward would also be welcome and so would a creative midfield playmaker capable of providing the killer passes that Martial and Marcus Rashford could thrive on.


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