Another away win, three vital points and Manchester United have gone into the international break with 10 points from their first seven Premier league games. But what did that 3-1 victory over Everton at Goodison Park tell us about this current United side? Here are three of the main talking points to have come out of yesterday’s game.
First, the performance at Goodison told us that the squad – or at least the majority of those starting yesterday’s match – are fully behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Yesterday’s was the kind of game where it would be evident if a manager had lost his dressing room. The players knew Solskjaer’s neck was on the line and they battled like warriors – especially the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Luke Shaw, Fred, Scott McTominay and Harry Maguire.
There have been a number of ‘inside source’-type reports saying that the players do not believe Solskjaer is technically good enough to take the team to the next level and while that may be true, it seemed clear yesterday that they do not want him to leave.
Second, the game told us that Solskjaer does not always practice what he preaches. In his extraordinary rant on BT Sport after the game, he implied that the injuries suffered by Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford were due to unreasonable scheduling, saying ‘we’ve already had too many injuries in the Premier League; not just my players, other teams’ players… we need to think about them…they’re not robots, they’re human … we need to look after everyone.’
But why, if Solskjaer believes that the players’ human needs must be put first, did he make Rashford play 90 minutes of the game when he was clearly tired early in the second half? Why wasn’t he rested, when a world-class alternative in Edinson Cavani was sitting on the bench?
Last season, Rashford suffered a double stress fracture of the spine and accusations were laid at Solskjaer’s door that he had played him against Wolves when he was already suffering from the injury, thereby aggravating it and making it much more serious. Yet with that serious injury not long behind the England man, Solskjaer has kept him on the pitch for every single minute of every single Premier League game this season and also played him for 76 minutes of Wednesday’s clash.
If Solskjaer was ‘looking after’ Rashford as he said in his outburst, then the latter should not have been on the pitch.
The third thing that yesterday’s match taught us is that despite the big names on the bench, Fred has made himself simply undroppable from this United side (other than when he might be ‘looked after’ as a human). And it is not just about the Brazilian’s engine and work rate. He has re-invented himself as a deep-lying midfielder who can hold, transition and go box-to-box when appropriate. What he does is not flashy and there is not always a great deal of creativity in his play, but the contribution he makes both in and out of possession is immense.
United have had some world class goalkeepers over the years and some entertaining ones too. Take our quiz below to find out how much you know about United’s number 1’s, past and present.