Manchester United's top appearance makers: Solskjaer backs new boys
With 25 games played for United of the Premier League season so far, it has been a very mixed campaign.
Just nine wins is a poor return, so it is worth drilling down into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s selections to see how we got here.
First up, it’s important to acknowledge Solskjaer has not been able to pick the team he wanted for most of the season.
Injuries have led to stars like Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay and now Marcus Rashford missing big stretches of the campaign.
Just two ever presents
While they have been rested in cup competitions, there are two players who have featured for every minute of every Premier League game.
They are Harry Maguire and David de Gea, who both register the full 25 matches and 2,250 minutes to date.
This is testament to their importance to the team, and their own fitness. Maguire has had a couple of minor issues but not enough to keep him out of action in the league.
Maguire’s continuous selection also points to injuries behind him. If Eric Bailly or Axel Tuanzebe had been available more, the England star may have had a bit more of a rest.
New signings Ole’s favourites
Of the five players picked most regularly, three were the players signed last summer.
Victor Lindelöf follows Maguire and De Gea, then it is Aaron Wan-Bissaka (1,971 minutes played) and Dan James (1,915 minutes played).
This certainly shows all three players were ones Solskjaer wanted, he has shown his full faith in them.
Diogo Dalot’s injury absence has helped both players, with the Portuguese star and alternative at both right-back and on the wing, and he will get chances over the next few months.
Solskjaer’s faith in the new boys is a really positive sign for January addition Bruno Fernandes.
The former Sporting star went straight into the XI against Wolves despite having just one training session, and played all 90 minutes. He will be a regular between now and May.
What’s going wrong?
Solskjaer’s faith in his new signings is understandable. He wants to give them every chance to be a success.
In James’ case, the regular appearances have done him no favours in his first top flight season, when he could have done with being used more sparingly.
When Solskjaer first took over last season, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba were excellent in midfield along with Ander Herrera.
Herrera left in the summer and wasn’t replaced, while Matic and Pogba have made just 12 league starts combined this season.
Scott McTominay and Fred have stepped up well, but United would be stronger had Matic and Pogba been available more regularly.
Many would also fair assess the 1,444 minutes played by Andreas Pereira, 891 from Jesse Lingard and 715 from Juan Mata to be too much.
It hardly seems right that Angel Gomes has had just 19 by comparison.
Fernandes’ arrival should see the trio’s game time diminish between now and the rest of the season.
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