Paul Scholes has underlined the problems currently facing Manchester United and has named and shamed one player as a reason why they won’t seriously challenge for the Premier League title this season.
United pulled within 10 points of the Manchester City with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Newcastle on Sunday evening. Daniel James – who seems to have found his groove recently – earned some praise after the game from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Scholes, however, insists going forwards and scoring goals is not where United’s problems lie. In fact, the pundit thinks that until they address their central defensive weaknesses, winning major trophies will continue to be a struggle.
Airing his concerns on BT Sport, Scholes bemoaned a lack of a ruthless streak at the back.
“I think that’s what’s stopping them from being a team that can challenge for the league, or possibly the Champions League, challenge for the top trophies, let’s say.
“Everywhere else, I think their midfield and forward players are really exciting, he’s built a really exciting team that are capable of scoring goals.”
Picking out Victor Lindelof in particular, Scholes added: “I think in the middle of defence, Lindelof especially, they lack authority.
“He can be bullied, sometimes he’s not strong enough. I think both [Lindelof and Harry Maguire] can be very timid. They don’t really command or bully centre-forwards, they don’t really demand from the rest of the team. I think these two positions in particular are massive for teams that are going to win the league.”
Scholes explains where United lack strength
Drawing comparisons to recent title winners, City and Liverpool, Scholes has outlined how United struggle to get the right balance.
“You look right through the history of teams that have won the league. They are dominant and authoritative centre-halves. You think of Vincent Kompany at City, [Virgil] Van Dijk at Liverpool. They couldn’t win the league until they brought someone with authority at centre-back in.
“Can these two learn that? I’m not sure they can. I think Maguire will be okay, Lindelof is the one that worries me – he’s the one that seems to get bullied more often than not.
“They’ve got Eric Bailly on the bench, a lot of people have called for him to have a chance. But the trouble with him, he comes in and plays a game, then you don’t see him again. He just cannot stay fit, he’s one of those players that just cannot get a run of games.
“You look at the defensive side, the two centre-halves, their argument will be: we’ve played Liverpool, we’ve played Manchester City and kept a clean sheet. Yeah, okay, they did. But when you look at the other side of it – the attacking side of the game, the attacking players completely went. They had to play two holding midfielders because they were worried about the centre-halves and possibly the goalkeeper.”