Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not need us to tell him that Manchester United’s result at Leicester was unacceptable.
Solskjaer told the club website, ‘”It has been a bad day,” when speaking about the 4-2 defeat.
The manager’s decisions were a contributing factor, bringing back a barely fit Harry Maguire to start the game.
One of Solskjaer’s top assets as a manager has been the perception that he is an excellent man-manager, how his personal touch makes him a huge change from abrasive predecessor Jose Mourinho.
Luke Shaw has attested to this multiple times, but then, Shaw is clearly one of Solskjaer’s favourites.
It is not so easy for players who fall on the other side of that, and Solskjaer is finding it difficult to manage the squad he has at his disposal.
Is Solskjaer really a good man manager?
Harry Maguire would probably say yes. Eric Bailly will likely have a very different view.
Imagine how the Ivorian felt after being snubbed for this game for a half-fit Maguire, and then seeing the captain turn in an atrocious performance.
Bailly is United’s fourth choice defender, but with Raphael Varane out, and expectedly Maguire too, it had seemed likely Bailly would finally get his first Premier League start of the season.
Instead Maguire was rushed back and Bailly ignored. It was needless, especially considering how Bailly and Lindelof kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 win away at Leicester under Solskjaer in February 2019.
Bailly is not the only one to be snubbed. Once again Donny van de Beek did not get a look in.
Even with Fred unavailable, all the work Van de Beek put in at Carrington over the international break seemed to amount to nothing.
No wonder the Dutchman feels thoroughly demoralised. Solskjaer’s treatment of Van de Beek is comparable to Jose Mourinho’s early snub of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but at least the Armenian was eventually brought into the fold.
Alex Telles had a big moment for United against Villarreal with his first goal for the club at a crucial time. His reward was to be cast aside for a recovering Luke Shaw, who preceded to be at fault for Everton’s equaliser before the break.
Telles is back to being a back-up, similar to Diogo Dalot, who left on loan last season because he was fed up of not being given a fair crack.
Jesse Lingard’s situation is perplexing. Solskjaer talked him up in his Friday press conference, and then left him on the bench again.
It’s mid-October and Lingard has not started a Premier League game all season.
This is a player who has come back rejuvenated after a loan, and has played well when called upon from the bench. There is no balance to Solskjaer’s team selections.
Unhappy players and bad results a toxic mix
When there are unhappy players in the squad, as Eric Bailly, Jesse Lingard, Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek for instance no doubt are, it does not create a good backdrop.
This isn’t speculation, it’s reality. Bailly, Telles, Van de Beek, Lingard between them have not started a single Premier League game this season. They won’t be happy.
Neither has Juan Mata or Dean Henderson, while Edinson Cavani has only one start. There will be a lot of agitated players behind the scenes.
This can be a situation which managers can navigate through when results are good. But when they are bad, it’s a toxic mix.
United have just one point from the last three games and nobody at the club will be feeling positive about that run.
Cristiano Ronaldo looked dejected at the final whistle, while Jadon Sancho won’t be pleased with how his start at the club has gone either. Paul Pogba seemed frustrated at the final whistle too.
Solskjaer has to make some big decisions over the coming weeks, and that will mean mixing his team up.
Sticking with the same players has so far brought the same, negative results, and that will create negativity behind the scenes and test Solskjaer’s managerial abilities to the limit.
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