Paul Parker thinks each of Manchester United’s expected summer signings will need to hit the ground running – they’re all under pressure in their own way.
Take Jadon Sancho. He is expected to join from Borussia Dortmund in the next few days, all being well, and he’ll need to link up quickly with his new teammates.
I haven’t been jumping up and down like others about his arrival because I’m yet to see enough from him to prove he’s what United need. But he should still be putting pressure on Marcus Rashford.
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We need to see if he can play on the left wing – not the right – and consistently be able to go inside and outside his man, because they’ve not been getting enough of that from Rashford. If he can do that, then it’s a step forward for United as an attacking team.
Looking at the cost of the player, United will expect him to be contributing from the start of the season. They’ve also waited long enough for him to arrive, so there may be a lack of patience where he is concerned.
When I’ve seen Sancho play, I’ve often seen him on the left, and that’s where the team’s weakness is. Mason Greenwood deserves to start the first game of the season with his form compared to Rashford’s. The big games need to have Greenwood starting, and Rashford hasn’t done anything near enough to be ahead of him at the moment.
Rashford mentioned a shoulder injury as one of the reasons he’s struggled of late, but you’re either injured or you’re not. If you need to mention it, then you go and get it sorted out. Football is different now, players will be given the time to properly recover with doctors willing to step in and protect them from being rushed back. A shoulder injury seems like an easy out when his form isn’t good.
As for Raphael Varane, I’m not expecting him to wow people. Not because he doesn’t have the talent, but because we all know what he’s done. We’ve seen what he’s won for Real Madrid and that he’s played for France. One thing I’d say is that at Real he has had a great partner to lead him in Sergio Ramos.
But he’s another one who has to start well. Because of his pedigree, people will expect him to slot in and be an immediate upgrade on Victor Lindelof. What he’ll have to show is physical and mental toughness – exactly what Lindelof lacks.
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When you have a poor central defender alongside a better one, it unbalances the side. This United side has been unbalanced for a while. Varane’s arrival would be a chance to build a side on something stead. Something that the fans believe in, but the players behind and in front of him. For the goalkeeper that has been a huge issue for years.
Once you get that, you can compete as Manchester United. Any top side can talk about their central defence. At City you have Ruben Dias, and the form he inspired in John Stones. People might discuss centre forwards, but you have to have quality centre-backs and goalkeepers. You don’t achieve a lot without them.
Kieran Trippier, it’s interesting where he will play, because Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be under pressure. The thing about Wan-Bissaka is that when he isn’t there, people will realise how important he is. As well as Trippier has done at Atletico Madrid, to come back at United is completely different.
The players aren’t as disciplined as they are under Diego Simeone. It will be hard for him to adjust right away at United.
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