Before the football season was brought to an abrupt stop by the Coronavirus outbreak, Manchester United were on a run of 11 games unbeaten in all competitions. While many, perhaps correctly, attributed this upturn in form to the arrival of Portuguese playmaker Bruno Fernandes, United’s coaching staff have also been doing extra behind the scenes work to help improve the performance of the squad.
As first reported by Laurie Whitwell of The Athletic, every single member of United’s coaching staff have been tasked with carrying out individual sessions with players. These sessions are designed specifically to improve certain areas of a player’s performance. Nemanja Matic is one player who has been the subject of many of these 20-30 minute sessions, with the Serbian midfielder being implored to get forward to support the attack more frequently. The former Chelsea man has been working specifically on feeding the ball into the striker and making runs off of them to add another dimension to the United attack.
These one on one sessions have not been implemented at the cost of the standard training procedure, with fitness and group work being completed first and the individual sessions taking place afterwards. This shows a coordinated determination between United players and coaching staff that has been sorely missing since the days of Ferguson and is undoubtedly a large contributing factor to United’s recent period of success.
Matic is not the only United player to have been pulled aside, with Summer signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka being the subject of sessions held by Kieran McKenna and Michael Carrick, aimed at improving the right back’s attacking prowess. The former Crystal Palace man has been tasked with beating fellow defenders Teden Mengi and Timothy Fosu-Mensah and delivering balls into the box. United’s recent triumph over bitter rivals Manchester City saw perhaps Wan-Bissaka’s most impressive attacking display. On various occasions, the Englishman gave Man City’s backline a torrid time, skipping past his marker and looking a real threat down the flanks.
While Wan-Bissaka is renowned for his defensive capabilities, with Jamie Carragher describing him as “the best 1v1 defender in world football”, if the right back were to become a consistent attacking threat, he would add a completely new dimension to United’s attack.
In addition, this will come as great news to United fans who have long pointed out that Wan-Bissaka’s lack of attacking intent has hindered his progression. The fact that United’s coaching are actively highlighting and targeting areas for improvement amongst players emphasises a proactiveness within the club that many have long speculated has been missing.