Keeping Solskjaer could cost Manchester United the futures of eight players

Manchester United’s current stance is to keep Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in charge.

This seems as unwise short-term as it does long-term, with the team in terrible form.

On the pitch there could be severe repercussions if United continue with the form which has seen the side pick up just four points from the last six games.

But it is fractures in the dressing room which are most concerning, stemming from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s imbalanced use of the squad.

ESPN report several players are frustrated at being misled by Solskjaer in the summer over their chances of playing time.


Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

The report was also run by The Telegraph, which claims Solskjaer has ’caused mounting frustration among elements of the squad, particularly those who backed away from potential transfers in the summer in the belief that they would play more at Old Trafford’.

This is now a real problem for United to solve, as these players could push to leave the club in January.

Who is not happy and could leave?

The Telegraph report the eight unhappy players include Donny van de Beek, Jesse Lingard, Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Diogo Dalot, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial.

Some of these players knew exactly what they were getting into. Bailly knew when he re-signed his deal that he risked being fourth choice. Dalot knew he would just be a back-up to Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Juan Mata’s peculiar decision to renew was made in the knowledge he would just be a fringe player.

But in each case, they have had fewer opportunities than has seemed fair, considering the team’s woeful form. Wan-Bissaka has been very poor lately, and yet Dalot has not had enough chances. Mata has played just one match, and Bailly has featured only three times, including being snubbed for a barely fit Harry Maguire.

The most particularly egregious snubs are for Donny van de Beek, who has seen just 16 minutes of Premier League football, and Jesse Lingard, who has not started a single game.

All eight of these players may not look to leave in January, and United won’t let them all go. But by next summer if this situation carries on, each of them may eventually get their way.

Dalot for instance told  The Telegraph in a separate interview he is hopeful of getting more playing time as the season goes on. But right now there is no balance, and he does not have a Premier League start to his name this season. He’s won’t stay patient for long.

Solskjaer risks leaving a mess behind

For all the talk about a rebuild, Solskjaer risks leaving his successor in the same situation.

To create a desire for such a big turnover in players, with so many looking to leave, speaks volumes about the state of United right now.

Some departures are inevitable. Juan Mata’s deal won’t be extended beyond next summer. United may need a better challenger at right-back than Dalot, and Henderson won’t be happy unless he is number one.

But to have so many of these players contemplating their futures just three months into the season shows how poorly Solskjaer has managed his squad.

This is not new either. Go back to the Europa League semi-final defeat to Sevilla, and Solskjaer’s refusal to use his bench to try and turn the game.

Now Solskjaer has a big squad, with the likes of Donny van de Beek and Alex Telles signed, and both are already unhappy because he won’t use them.

Each and every player is ultimately replaceable, but so many of these stars have more to offer, and Solskjaer has no idea how to effectively balance and rotate his squad.

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Sack Solskjaer now and reinvigorate the squad

There is an obvious solution to this for United: Sack Solskjaer and reinvigorate a dressing room low on morale.

This decision would give United’s squad players belief they can get a fair shot with a second choice, not necessarily to become automatic starters – but to be treated fairly and be mixed in far more than they should.

It could even change plans. Donny van de Beek for instance would probably put exit plans on hold to try and win over the new boss.

Solskjaer will probably try and rotate more over the coming weeks. He has to, with injuries and with talk of squad frustration becoming public knowledge.

Even if the players play, Solskjaer has broken their trust to get to this point, and it is going to be tough to win them back over, especially once other clubs come calling and start promising new opportunities.

There is a worry that other players become disenfranchised under Solskjaer, particularly summer signing Jadon Sancho, who has just lost his place in the England squad.

Rather than get better, this situation could get worse if Solskjaer is left in charge.

There are already questions over Paul Pogba’s future, to add to this group of disgruntled stars.

United should use business sense

One of the oddities about United as a club is that the Glazers put business ahead of sporting success.

And yet in this case, it should be in the club’s business interests to dispense with Solskjaer too.

Solskjaer is causing the club’s assets to depreciate through a lack of use.

Van de Beek, Telles, Bailly et al would fetch minimal fees on the market compared to their true value, especially with clubs knowing United don’t want to be lumbered with unhappy players.

Wanting to stick by a manager can be admirable, but Solskjaer lacks the pedigree to turn this around and seems to have reached his limit.

At what cost is it worth keeping him? Up to eight United players could seek exits if their careers continue with the current trajectory.

Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

When this number of players are considering their future and are unhappy with management, it shows there have been errors made in recent months, to add to the problem of poor results.

Moving on from Solskjaer gives each player a new start, and it makes business sense to sacrifice the manager to solve their unhappiness, rather than let them walk, in favour of a sentiment to keep a boss who is already presiding over a terrible run of form.

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