Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recently admitted that he was backed in the transfer market at Manchester United this summer.
While that may seem obvious considering United signed Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, Solskjaer’s public admission seemed to have greater importance. That’s because one could perceive it as Solskjaer going on record to admit that there will be no more room for excuses this season – he simply needs to deliver the first trophy of his tenure.
After inheriting Jose Mourinho’s squad, which was frankly in disarray after silverware was pursued at the expense of the long-term sustainability and health of the club, Solskjaer quickly proved he was the perfect candidate to rebuild United.
Whether Solskjaer can take United to yet another level after years of clear and impressive progression on the pitch remains to be seen, however, there’s no denying that the talent he now has at his disposal at Carrington naturally increases the pressure.
Solskjaer has United in the strongest position they’ve been in since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and yet performances this season have not been encouraging. United looked electric on the opening day against Leeds and there was tangible hope and belief among the terraces at Old Trafford, but they’ve since failed to match that display, much to the frustration of supporters.
With poor results comes heightened scrutiny and Solskjaer’s team selection and formation choice has once again been a talking point this season, so what actually is United’s strongest XI when everybody at the club is fit and available?
David de Gea’s phenomenal renaissance has ensured he’s United’s No.1 this season while the back four that protects the Spaniard truthfully pick itself with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw a title-challenging worthy defence.
Wan-Bissaka has received the most scrutiny of those four this term but the extent of the criticism is unjustified – the right-back remains one of the best defenders of the ball in the league despite his sometimes questionable attacking output.
Which players would make your starting XI? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Solskjaer has persisted with the 4-2-3-1 formation this campaign with Fred and Scott McTominay in the double pivot and, while that approach is thought to be risk-averse, that system is failing at what it’s supposed to provide – adequate defensive cover.
United have looked vulnerable at the back on more than occasions with Fred and McTominay in the pivot, so surely now is the time for Solskjaer to change tact and move to three in midfield which would allow United to seize the initiative in fixtures.
Greenwood and Ronaldo seem inevitable starters after enjoying strong starts to the new campaign.
Sancho has played on the left flank with Solskjaer also playing Pogba in that position, but Marcus Rashford has made his full return from injury – he played through the pain barrier last season – and his history proves he’s the right man to start there, if at his best.
United have craved a spark in recent weeks and Rashford’s return could just be the catalyst they need for improvement.
Strongest XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fernandes, Pogba, Greenwood, Rashford, Ronaldo.