By 90Min
September 14, 2019

From Old Trafford - Is it too early to draw long-term conclusions after five games of a Premier League season? 

Not in Manchester United's case - despite Saturday's hard-fought victory over Leicester City.

We've seen similar in-game patterns across United's league campaign to date. They'd led at Wolves and Southampton only to be pegged back for draws prior to the international break, and that similar sense of dread and worry in the pit of the stomach was present in the home support for a large part of this 1-0 win too. 

OLI SCARFF/GettyImages

Brendan Rodgers' Foxes will be a tough nut to crack for a lot of teams in the league this season. They'd already taken a point at Chelsea in week two, and many fancied the visitors to earn a similar result, if not a better one, against a depleted United lacking star names like Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial. 

A penalty from Marcus Rashford and an organised defensive showing from the hosts was enough to keep them at bay here.

In fairness to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United, they were brave. In chief, the manager is looking to put out a team of players every week with the desire to play for the shirt they're representing. Such pride was evident in the first half an hour as every player ran their socks off and flew into challenges when necessary. Somewhat refreshing, actually, considering the effort levels we've seen at times in the last few years.

But there was a noticeable drop off in energy. And while United had managed to find their way to push aside one of the chief candidates to break into the top six this term, alarm bells should be ringing that this was another game that went by without a huge number of clear-cut chances created and with only a goal from the penalty spot settling matters.

The weaknesses in the squad are obvious. Scott McTominay's brilliant performance charging around the pitch should've been enough to earn him the man of the match award, but United lack a holding midfielder with a clear mind to play a pass forward under pressure alongside him. Too often did a player pick up the ball and loft it forward aimlessly. 

Today was yet more proof that United too lack a chief creator, as well as a forward with a killer instinct. Their lack of decisive players mean that performances like these will be a common theme of the season moving forward - even if results will vary dependent on key moments.

Solskjaer was keen to remind fans that United are at the start of a journey with a plan and "knowledge of where we want to go" prior to kick off, clearly keen to keep expectations in check for supporters conditioned to expect victories every week.

It's clear he's aware of the challenges at hand, but this performance was another reminder to fans that this is going to be a long season with a host of nervous encounters. It's going to take several transfer windows before the answers are found.

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