With a change in management comes opportunities and will be welcomed by all Manchester United players.
While it would be unfair to claim that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had ‘lost the dressing room’ at United, murmurs of discontent erupted from the squad after a series of unacceptable performances suggesting that trust between the key staff and the manager was beginning to run very thin . United’s appalling displays this season spoke louder than words could.
United’s incompetence at board level has forced Michael Carrick to take over from Solskjaer as agent. How was Solskjaer’s sacking so seemingly unplanned? Where was the foresight from the club’s hierarchy?
Under normal circumstances, clubs tend to enjoy a managerial bounce after a layoff, but while United defeated Villarreal 2-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday, Carrick was part of Solskjaer’s staff and he has even admitted that he ‘very similar to Ole’.
Despite that admission from Carrick, the former midfielder left his mark on this United side in Spain at Villarreal.
Carrick was not afraid to drop Bruno Fernandes – who has underperformed all season due to his brilliant standards – for Donny van de Beek, who looked radiant and energized at Watford. That was an easy win for Carrick. News of Van de Beek’s place in the starting squad caused social media to collapse after the team news announcement and the Dutchman’s popularity remains high.
That’s partly because Van de Beek remains an exciting prospect and partly because supporters sympathize with the way he was treated by Solskjaer. There was no personal animosity between the pair, but Solskjaer clearly didn’t believe in what he has to offer.
Van de Beek’s signing under Solskjaer’s supervision was a mystery, it was bizarre that the Norwegian had managed to acquire such a sought-after talent but seemingly had no plan to deploy him. The signing of Jadon Sancho was somewhat reminiscent of that.
United have long been admirers of Sancho and they pushed so hard to sign him. While Sancho returned late in pre-season and had to overcome an illness at the start of the season, he was used sporadically by Solskjaer and appeared to have been stripped of his swagger.
With Mason Greenwood out with COVID, Carrick Sancho started on the right-hand side on Tuesday – Sancho probably would have started for Greenwood had he been fit anyway – and there was a glimpse of the player blinded at Borussia Dortmund.
It was hard not to be happy for the 21-year-old as he put in a lively performance, which ended with a goal.
United fans suggested that Van de Beek and Sancho might benefit from Solskjaer’s departure and they already seem to be right. A case must be made that both players should start against Chelsea this weekend and that would not have happened under Solskjaer.
There was a moment captured on camera of Van de Beek and Sancho sharing a full-time embrace and it felt important.
A new era is approaching for Manchester United and both players will play a key role in it.