Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took a calculated gamble in the summer. By only signing three players he put his trust in the ones he did have to step up.
If every player in United’s squad played to their full potential, Solskjaer’s decisions would have been fine. But it rarely works like that.
Decisions not to sign a striker, attacking midfielder and central midfielder meant Solskjaer put his full faith in the players he had at his disposal.
It has been sink or swim, and unfortunately, three of them appear to be sinking after being thrown in at the deep end…
Many would say Lingard should have been out of chances last summer. He ended last season extremely poorly, but did show initial flashes of talent before Solskjaer took over and then he got injured.
So it was understandable Solskjaer wanted to give him a chance, but it was a clear mistake not to bring in competition.
Lingard has been exposed this season, he’s not up to scratch, with his only goals coming against Astana and Tranmere, and his only assist against Rochdale.
Premier League opponents have him figured out, and United had to act this January by signing Bruno Fernandes. At least Solskjaer can say he gave him every opportunity.
The Frenchman has been given everything he wanted. The number nine shirt, and a sustained run as centre-forward.
Martial’s problem across his United career has been inconsistency, and this remains this season.
A tally of 12 goals for the season is not bad considering he missed several weeks at the start, but in recent games he has tailed off badly, and looks both exhausted and out of ideas.
Unlike Lingard, his situation is not irredeemable. Martial may be boosted by a mini break, and getting Odion Ighalo in as a possible strike partner or competition.
Martial needs a bit of support, but we have to be real. He’s not looking like the number nine United need.
Pereira has been on the fringes at United for years, and he’s never had a proper run in the team.
United’s decision not to sign a midfielder last summer has given him the opportunity he wanted, but he has not been able to make the most of it.
Pereira has moments during the game where he has flashes of quality, but then for the next 88 minutes he is a passenger, and actually harms United’s attack, by giving the ball away or running into a dead end.
The MEN report he is struggling to cope with the mental pressure amid criticism he is receiving.
It almost makes you feel a bit sorry for him, he’s been put into a role he is being exposed as not good enough for. He’s sinking, but to his credit, he’s still thrashing around trying to keep his head above water.
Three who are swimming
It has not all been bad. Three players who Ole Gunnar Solskjaer showed faith in have stepped up.
Mason Greenwood has been a revelation at just 18. He has 10 goals for the season and is on course to match or better the 15 scored by Romelu Lukaku last season.
He’s found it difficult at times too, but overall there is really positive progress from the youngster.
Marcus Rashford has come good too, stepping up in big matches as always, and hitting 19 goals this season already before his cruelly timed back injury.
Scott McTominay has also been thriving, he really stepped up as a leader in United’s midfield.
The Scot has a big role to play and is a class apart from Pereira. He has made the most of his opportunity, and is a player for United to build around.
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