Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hinted that the club’s transfer priorities for this summer have changed toward the defence.
It has been believed for some time that the first priority is a right winger, with Jadon Sancho the top target. There has also been much talk of United signing another attacking midfielder, potentially Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish, and a striker has also been sought, with the Reds narrowly missing out on capturing Norwegian star Erling Haaland in January.
But when asked about planning for the future at the Southampton pre-match press conference, the boss suggested that the situation is under review.
‘There’s so many small decisions and of course transfers sometimes are out of our hands as well,’ he said.
‘If the team is going well, [you ask yourself] what do we need and what don’t we need?’
This last sentence seems to be one of those Ole-isms that we get at press conferences, where the manager lets us know what he is thinking without saying it directly. But the meaning seems clear.
The right wing problem appears to have been solved by the emergence of Mason Greenwood, the centre forward position by the fine form of Anthony Martial and the extension of Odion Ighalo’s loan and the attacking midfield area has been transformed by the brilliance of January arrival Bruno Fernandes and the fact that Paul Pogba appears ready to commit his future to the club.
So what now is the priority?
Later in the press conference when asked whether he thought it ‘feels like the old days’ at Old Trafford, Solskjaer dropped another hint, saying:
‘It’s about winning, of course it is, because you want to win trophies.
‘But it’s also about our fans and the way we approach the game. How we approach football, you play with pace, power, you play with no fear, you take risks and you’ve got players who have got quality.
‘So you know it’s just the DNA of the football club. And of course I’m happy when you score goals and when you don’t concede but it’s always been built on a strong foundation.
‘You know, when we had [Gary] Pallister and [Steve] Bruce or [Jaap] Stam and [Ronny] Johnsen, with fantastic keepers behind them, the engine room with Roy Keane, Bryan Robson – they laid a foundation for the forwards to show their skills, so long may it continue.’
This may be another Ole-ism: In naming centre-back partnerships such as Bruce and Pallister and steely captains such as Keane and Robson, he is indicating that it is the spine of the team he sees as the priority at the moment. He is acknowledging that no matter how brilliantly the forward players are performing, that ‘foundation’ is needed to be successful.
It could be putting two and two together to make five, but the Norwegian’s comments when taken as a whole could certainly indicate that he sees the goalkeeping, central defence and perhaps the defensive midfield roles as the priority areas right now.
Whilst there is no doubt that the Red Devils will still be keen to add a talented player like Sancho to their side, in just a few weeks that may have changed from a ‘sign no matter the cost’ transfer to a ‘fantastic if the deal is right’ one. Meanwhile, a new centre-back may have transitioned in the opposite direction and could now be the new top transfer priority.
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