Football News

Mario Mandzukic: A Solskjaer style clash or solution to one key Man Utd weakness?

By Ben Green

Published: 12:00, 7 November 2019

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been advised to sign Juventus castaway Mario Mandzukic by former Manchester United defender Wes Brown. 

Mandzukic, 33, has failed to represent the Old Lady in any competition this season having fallen down the pecking order under summer-appointment Maurizio Sarri.

Is Mandzukic the answer for Man Utd? Five things to know…

  • Man Utd have been linked with a move for forgotten Juve star Mandzukic.
  • The 33-year-old is yet to turn out for new boss Sarri.
  • Solskjaer parted with Lukaku over the summer because he didn’t want a target man.
  • However, Wes Brown believes Mandzukic, a player similar to Lukaku, is exactly what Man Utd need.
  • Man Utd are yet to score a headed Premier League goal this season – Liverpool and Man City have scored six and five respectively.

Solskjaer will be eager to bolster his attacking ranks this winter window having failed to remedy the departures of both Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez over the summer.

His lack of depth in the No. 9 department came to a head earlier this campaign, when injury struck Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood, leaving the Norwegian without a recognised centre-forward for the 2-0 reversal against West Ham.

The trio have since returned, but Brown has urged his former teammate to nonetheless offer Mandzukic a route out of Turin and make him the centrepiece of Man Utd’s attack.

He told talkSPORT: “He’s big, strong, can hold the ball up – he’d be a great addition.

“It would give some of the other lads a rest and give us an option to change tactics a little bit.

“You want to sign the right player, you don’t just want to buy anyone, you want someone who will fit into Ole’s plans.

“But he’s a quality player, we’ve seen that over the years.

“If that was to be, I think he’ll be a good addition, although I don’t think it will be long-term.”

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Would Mandzukic suit Man Utd?

Despite Brown’s assertion that Mandzukic would “fit into Ole’s plans”, that may not quite be the case. Solskjaer’s philosophy is largely built around explosive counter-attacking football, suiting the likes of Rashford and Martial.

The Norwegian sought to accentuate his style over the summer by bringing in pace-merchant Daniel James, while allowing Romelu Lukaku to part without a fuss.

Solskjaer says Lukaku was sold because he didn’t suit Man Utd’s attacking style: “He’s a target man. We have a different attacking set-up this season.”

Mandzukic is a player similar to Lukaku in stature and style, making it seem almost counterproductive to bring in a player Solskjaer was trying to move away from.

That said, Man Utd are one of only four clubs yet to score a headed Premier League goal this season, so perhaps a tinkering of tactics is required to offer alternative options.

In Mandzukic, Solskjaer would have an archetypal centre-forward, a player who can hold the ball, bring others into play, and offer a threat from lateral passes.

Liverpool, despite not currently boasting a target man on the books, have thrived from crosses and headed goals this season, netting the most in the league (six), as have Man City (five).

It should therefore be considered by Solskjaer that he could tweak his system to accommodate Mandzukic, while also continuing to play the counterpressing football he so craves.