Gareth Southgate has used set-pieces at the World Cup and Euros and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could take note
England are close to making history in a major international tournament for the first time since 1966, having progressed into the semi-finals of Euro 2020 recently with a 4-0 win over Ukraine.
Gareth Southgate’s men are two matches from lifting the trophy, with the England boss dramatically improving the fortunes of the national side since his appointment in 2016.
Southgate has now reached the semi-final stage in two consecutive competitions, and Manchester United can take note of how the 50-year-old has delivered results along the way.
England haven’t always played their opponents off the park, but they have particularly benefited from their approach to set-pieces, with important goals scored from corners and free-kicks.
Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw shone in the contest against Ukraine, with the former scoring a header and the latter registering two assists over the 90-minute bout.
Jordan Henderson also scored from a corner during the game, and England scored the most goals from corners at the World Cup in 2018, with Maguire responsible for one of the goals.
Those set-pieces opportunities are often overlooked, but the goals scored can prove to be decisive given the nature of football as a low-scoring sport.
Once considering the presence of certain players in the United squad, it is reasonable to suggest that the Red Devils have underperformed in the set-piece department in recent times.
Last season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s outfit bagged only four goals from corners, which ranked them above just three other teams in Arsenal, Fulham and Crystal Palace.
Chelsea scored nine, Liverpool netted eight times, and Manchester City and Tottenham both scored six; those teams seemed to profit from dead-ball situations more than United.
The season before, United scored five which was slightly better but still ranked the team behind Liverpool’s league-leading 11, and City’s tally of eight.
Solskjaer has Shaw, Maguire, Bruno Fernandes, Edinson Cavani and Alex Telles at his disposal, each of whom have proved to be useful around set-pieces for different reasons, while also having tall players in the squad such as Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay.
Scoring wasn’t much of a problem for United last season, but the Old Trafford side did suffer from seven 0-0 draws in the Premier League, and a simple goal from a corner could’ve proved to make the difference in several of those clashes.
As the new campaign approaches, Solskjaer could seek inspiration from Southgate as he looks to improve upon United’s second-placed finish.