Manchester United: Winners and Losers from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's permanent appointment
Manchester United officially announced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as their permanent manager yesterday. The manager had just signed a three-year contract with the club. Solskjaer was appointed as the interim manager back in December after Jose Mourinho was relieved of his duties as the Manchester United boss on the back of a 3-1 defeat against arch-rivals Liverpool.
Solskjaer has done a brilliant job ever since, winning 14 of his 18 games in charge. The team has been playing some exhilarating football and key players are performing to the best of their abilities. Manchester United were 11 points off top four in the EPL when the Norwegian was appointed. Now they are just two points away from top 4 and three points off third-place Tottenham. They are also in the Quarter-finals of the Champions League after an incredible turnaround at the Parc des Princes in the Round of 16.
Solskjaer's permanent appointment must have brought joy to some players while others must be dreading his appointment. We pick the winners and losers from Solskjaer's permanent appointment as the Manchester United manager.
#1 Paul Pogba
The first thing the Norwegian did as the Manchester United manager was to change Paul Pogba's position to a more attacking one. He was given the license to create and get into the box more often, rather than worrying about his defensive duties. This tactical tweak worked wonders and Pogba has been United's best player so far. In 17 games under Solskjaer, Pogba has been involved in 16 goals, 7 more than he managed in 20 games under Jose Mourinho. Pogba has become the best midfielder in the League since Solskjaer's arrival and will definitely benefit from his permanent appointment.
#2 Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford was shifted to his preferred number 9 position by Solskjaer as soon as he took up the reigns of Manchester United. Rashford was forced out wide under the previous manager which didn't suit him. Since his positional change, Rashford has transformed into one of the league's most prolific strikers. The England international has scored eight goals under Solskjaer — including huge strikes at Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain. The Norwegian manager believes in Rashford's ability which is evident from the fact that he prefers Rashford over £90 million Romelu Lukaku in the number 9 position. Solskjaer can take Rashford's game to another level as he was a striker himself and knows what it takes to succeed in that position at the highest level.
#3 The youth academy
Solskjaer played with the famous 'Class of 92', so he understands more than most the importance of the link between the academy and the first team at Old Trafford. Solskjaer has brought in talented prospects from the youth academy and has given the likes of Taith Chong, Mason Greenwood, and James Garner their senior debut. Solskjaer has given 1404 Premier League minutes to players under the age of 21 this season and a further of 241 Champions League minutes so far, which is an incredible number. Now that Solskjaer is announced permanently, the academy players can expect more and more game time in the upcoming season. This will help them build up their experience and prepare for the upcoming seasons in the future.
#1 Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez has been struggling to impress the Old Trafford faithful with his performances and his Manchester United career is turning from bad to worse. His form has been awful and he has struggled with injury for the majority of this season. It was thought that Solskjaer's arrival will benefit Alexis to find back his form but his performances remain similar to what it was under the previous manager. It looks like his time in Manchester is coming to an end and the club will be looking to cash out on the Chilean in the summer in order to buy a more younger prospect who will fit his system better.
#2 Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku was undroppable for the most part under Jose Mourhino, no matter how badly he played. But since the arrival of Solskjaer, he has struggled to get into the starting 11 with the likes of Marcus Rashford preferred in the number 9 position. Even when he plays, he is forced out wide on the right-hand side. Lukaku does not fit the way Solskjaer likes his team to play. Lukaku is more of a target man who thrives on service while the manager wants his strikers to drop deep to take the ball from midfield and run at the opposition.
Lukaku has been in exceptional form for Manchester United recently, scoring 6 in his last 4 games which includes an incredible brace against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. But the manager still fancies Rashford over him in the number 9 position which might be bad news for the Belgian powerhouse.
Fred is another player who has failed to improve. The Brazilian has been struggling for game time at Manchester United and is yet to convince the Old Trafford faithful that he has what it takes to play for the best club in England. Fred has been down the pecking order, with Ander Herrera, Scott Mctominey, and Andreas Periera preferred over the Brazilian. There are reports, Solskjaer is looking for reinforcements in the midfield area in the summer, which means Fred's days as a Manchester United might be over.