Manchester United’s transition over the past season has been a slow burn. Finally it looks to be coming good.
The 4-0 win over Chelsea on the season’s opening day was a false dawn, yet a tantalising glimpse of what United could be capable of.
For the most part, the first half of the season was a tough watch. United struggled to score goals, and at times, even create chances.
Think back to the disappointing away defeats to West Ham and Newcastle last September and October. Or the home defeat to Crystal Palace which took the wind out of our initially promising start.
Solskjaer talked about how United are now kicking on, telling Sky Sports he wants to see his players take risks and express themselves creatively.
Solskjaer said: “It’s fantastic for me to see them express themselves, because that’s a Manchester United team. We need to take chances, take risks, be brave, and most of the time you will reap the rewards if you are brave. We need to keep that mentality and bravery going forward.”
This coming summer United will be looking to build on this progress and use this season as a stepping stone. That means adding new players and not standing still, or falling backwards.
As Solskjaer has unintentionally outlined, his board need to follow suit of his players, and take a few risks too.
Top target Sancho
Reported top transfer target Jadon Sancho fits the bill perfectly. The Telegraph reported last month how he remains the club’s top priority.
Sancho is one of the world’s most coveted players, and is just 20-years-old. He has got to this position because he took one of the ultimate risks, and watched it pay off.
As a teenager Sancho walked out on Manchester City and Pep Guardiola, and decided to carve out his own pathway to success.
It was a risk, yet it worked out. Sancho believed his own talent needed a different stage, and the move paid off.
Now United need Sancho to take another risk. Can he come to United and succeed where previous big money attacking signings have failed?
Angel di Maria, Memphis Depay and Alexis Sanchez were among the players to arrive with big billing, and fail for a variety of reasons.
Sancho is not immune to that. It could go wrong for him, but Solskjaer’s United are better prepared for a player like him than any manager in the post-Fergie era.
Solskjaer and his coaching staff have helped United’s players improve as individuals, and a team, over the past year. Joining this side should excite Sancho, and other potential signings. His creativity will be encouraged, and not coached out of him.
United is a risk for Sancho, but far less of a risk than it was under Van Gaal or Mourinho. The stage is set perfectly for the England international to thrive.
Solskjaer wants his players to create, to take risks, and express themselves. It didn’t feel this way under previous defence and safety-first managers. It is an environment Sancho should love.
Sancho is an attacking force who scored 20 goals this past season and provided 18 assists. Allowing him to link up with Rashford, Martial, Greenwood, Pogba and Fernandes is a scary prospect.
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