Manchester United’s latest setback was harsh to watch. As a result, even some of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s most loyal supporters are beginning to wonder if he is the right man for the job.
He certainly was when he took charge. He has brought back the club’s identity and – for the most part – made the right signings at the right times.
Had United bought a quality holding midfielder this summer, he may have a complete squad. Instead, that oversight means the Red Devils are struggling without a vital cog in their machine.
There is still time for the United boss to turn it around. He has a fairly decent record against the top sides. And he will be hoping that continues with some huge games on the horizon. But, as well as points on the board, there is another big reason some players will be hoping Solskjaer returns to winning ways.
United’s next generation is the most exciting in decades. It could be argued they are the best since the Class of 92.
A few youngsters have broken through in recent years. But they have done so on their own, not in a group.
This time, United have a whole host of talented youngsters. And a boss who has faith in youth is crucial for their development.
Hannibal Mejbri (18), Shola Shoretire (17), James Garner (20), Anthony Elanga (19), Charlie McNeil (18), Amad Traore (19), Ethan Laird (20) – the list goes on.
If Solskjaer stays, all of them should ultimately break through. If he goes, replaced by a manager with a different approach, it could be far less.
The United boss knows better than most how important youth development is. He watched as Sir Alex Ferguson guided his ‘kids’ to cup success and, ultimately, an unprecedented treble.
Present is vital for the future
The risk for United is that, if they rip up Solskjaer’s blueprint, they risk another era of success. Yet it is more complicated than that.
The club cannot be allowed to fester until the youngsters are ready. Nor can they be thrown in before they are ready.
United’s current stars need to up their game. And their boss needs to sort out his tactics.
Before this season, it looked like United were on the verge of something great. That has not disappeared in a few short weeks.
Solskjaer needs to turn things around, get everyone back on board and then – finally – a whole host of talented prospects could break through together in 2022.
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