It has been a struggle for Manchester United to score from set-pieces and corners and their records shows that it is not great either. In last season United just managed to score five goals which makes up 11% of their total league goals. In earlier years, the majority of the United goals used to come through set-pieces and corners. That was a kind of golden time where every fan must have had enjoyed. We used to have great delivery in from Giggs and Rooney before. With superb headers of the ball from Vidic and Ferdinand during the Sir Alex Ferguson era. Once upon a time, good headers of the ball for United were Smalling and Fellaini. They had the abilities to dominate the players in the set place due to their great physique.
However, following Fellaini’s departure in January 2019, United lacked that same aerial prowess. Lukaku scored 17 goals with headers as an Everton player and 8 headers as a United player. The Belgian International is currently at Inter and in the form of his life, scoring 26 goals in 39 appearances. United just managed two headers from corners before Fernandes came in. Courtesy of a fine finish from Swedish International Lindelof in Premier League against Aston Villa and Phil Jones against Tranmere Rovers in 4th round of FA Cup. The majority of the Manchester United goals have come from open-plays and counterattacks. Scoring from set-pieces is not a strong area for United and that is what the management should be looking for.
The evolution of set-pieces with the Portuguese Magnifico.
It was Bruno Fernandes who lifted United since his joining from Sporting FC in February. United were searching for this kind of midfielders over the past few years. His long-range shooting ability is not the only thing to display ostentatiously. He is one of the best dynamic and agile midfielders United have had. He has also been the free-kick specialist and penalty taker for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side since his joining. The club do have some positive results undoubtedly.
It was only in his second game against Chelsea at the Bridge and he showed some outrageous skills with his foot. Bruno’s freekick hit the post and it was just a matter of few inches from getting his debut goal for United. He has proved his mettle once again by providing a delicious cross from the corner which helped Maguire to double the lead. It was against Aston Villa where United won a corner, Bruno took it. He passed straight to Pogba outside the box. And the Frenchman scored with a screamer.
Maguire, who had the greatest number of shots as defender is yet to find his mojo as he has only a solitary goal in his name in the Premier League. That is what a central defender should be doing for his club in helping to score goals from corners. Manchester United had five corners against Liverpool at Anfield, yet there was never any belief that they could score from any of them.
A scintillating header was produced by Rashford against Newcastle United at Old Trafford. United’s right-back Wan-Bissaka assisted with a lovely cross to earn a well-deserved team goal. Another assist against Chelsea at Stamford and Martial was the scorer with a nicely timed jump. United will need these kinds of headers from set-pieces when it will matter the most in crucial junctures. And they should capitalise if they really want to succeed further in a much competitive version of Premier League.
After Fernandes, its Fred who can really produce some good cross and we have seen this in the 19/20 Carabao Cup semi-final 2nd leg followed by a thunderous strike from the Serbian International that helped United to win 1-0. Manchester United have few underrated playmakers and the Brazilian International is one of them. Since Bruno joined, it has been a much improved and balanced United side. Even with such a dire start to the season, three of Manchester United’s eight goals so far this season have come from indirect set-pieces. Admittedly all three coming against Brighton in both the Premier League and Carabao Cup wins respectively. There is still there are lots of work to do in order to compete in the topflight football league.
New signing Edinson Cavani can be a great player for United in terms of providing great headers and can find the back of the net quite easily considering the physique he has. United would be extremely satisfied with the signing of Alex Telles who has the ability of producing some beautiful cross. And also, a handy player who can take the freekicks for the Red Devils as well. We have seen this many times doing it for his previous club. He can a great addition to Manchester United and set to compete with Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams for the left back position.