Four questions for Solskjaer ahead of opening game of the season

Manchester United belatedly kick off their Premier League season against Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.

In some ways, it doesn’t feel that long since United’s season ended with Europa League semi-final against Sevilla.

That said, the summer has been a painstaking slog in terms of a lack of transfer activity, most notably around Jadon Sancho.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has plenty to ponder ahead of this unusual season. Here’s four questions he needs an answer to…

Where does van de Beek fit in?

Donny van de Beek is undoubtedly a classy addition, but the initial question which greeted his arrival still stands – where does he fit into this United side?


Against Aston Villa last weekend, he played as the more adventurous of the two sitting midfielders, the role Paul Pogba played in most matches post-lockdown.

Solskjaer has a decision to make over whether to start the new-boy, and if so, where?

It’ll be an intriguing one as arguably the most exciting element of Saturday’s match is getting a first glimpse of the Dutchman in competitive action.

Which players are fully fit?

It has been a curtailed, disrupted pre-season for United and a host of first-teamers only returned to training this week.

That raises the prospect that Solskjaer may stray from the first-choice eleven he established at the end of last season.

The likes of Dan James will hope to take advantage if they’re given a chance.

Palace have already played twice, against Southampton and Bournemouth, and will likely be closer to full fitness than United.

That adds another dimension to Solskjaer’s team selection decision-making.

Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Henderson or de Gea?

The goalkeeping conundrum at United has been widely discussed since Dean Henderson established himself as a Premier League standard goalkeeper at Sheffield United last season.

This is a really interesting situation and a test of Solskjaer’s management skills.

We’ll get our first major insight into Solskjaer’s thinking when the team news comes out ahead of kick-off against Palace.

Alexander Hassenstein – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Does Greenwood start?

This is a question mark many fans might have expected at the start of the summer. They’d have just been hoping it related to Jadon Sancho’s arrival on the right wing.

In actual fact, Greenwood has had a tricky few weeks, reflecting the trappings which come with becoming a United first teamer.

Does Solskjaer back his man, who hasn’t had much by way of pre-season, and play him? A goalscoring start to the season should silence the critics.

Perhaps he’ll deem it best to keep Greenwood out of the limelight for a little while longer, given there would be heightened scrutiny on his display.

Either way, it’s a real poser for Solskjaer.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.