Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is preparing for a squad overhaul, according to The Telegraph’s James Ducker.
Ducker believes that the boss’s determination to stick to the same starting eleven despite obvious tiredness is an indication that he has no faith in the rest of his squad and that he is planning to have another clearout as soon as the season is over.
‘Solskjaer has chosen his words very carefully in public and that has been to his credit but he has demonstrated a ruthless streak in the way he decisively discarded the likes of Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, and his recent team selections only support the view that there is another significant purge to come,’ the reporter claims.
‘The message to Manchester United’s board should have been ringing loud and clear … but if they were in any doubt about how … Solskjaer really feels, all the evidence was there against West Ham.
‘As the second half wore on, fatigue took root and a lethargic team was screaming out for fresh legs in search of a winner, Solskjaer did nothing.
‘[Some will] regard it as further proof of just how thin United’s squad is, and recognition that Solskjaer’s trust does not extend very far beyond the first XI he has been flogging for weeks.
‘If ever Solskjaer was telling his paymasters that he needs more players, and better players, it was here. Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Daniel James were all on the bench, and stayed there.’
‘Solskjaer has entrusted a select few to get his team over the line and there has been no wavering from that, even if he must be craving more quality options to supplement those exhausted bodies.’
Ducker claims that United’s coaching team identified a need for nine new players when the Norwegian took over from José Mourinho last season, but that number may have already increased.
‘16 months on, little has changed,’ Ducker notes.
‘They have got four in but still need another five – a right winger, striker, midfielder, centre-half and probably another full-back, too, when you consider how Luke Shaw’s injury has left them looking particularly light in that area.
‘And that is assuming the goalkeeper conundrum can be resolved from within the resources the club already has.’
There is certainly a great deal of truth in the reporter’s claims but Solskjaer has already gone on record to say there would probably be only ‘two or three’ new arrivals this summer.
‘We know we lack one, two, three players to be considered a title contender and some experience and we know that,’ he said in March, adding recently ‘It’s going to be a strange transfer window and I don’t expect a lot of big transfers, maybe. I don’t know.’
There have also been rumours of Dan James and Eric Bailly being sent out on loan and Juan Mata moving to Fenerbahce in the Turkish Superleague. Odion Ighalo, of course, is expected to return to his home club Shanghai Shenhua when his loan expires in January.
Some of these reports are far-fetched of course, but even if just half are true, it would mean six players leaving and needing to be replaced. The Red Devils’ transfer negotiators Ed Woodward and Matt Judge will certainly be busy in the coming weeks.
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