Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made his stance clear with his team selection against Everton in midweek. Despite making nine changes, it was a match he clearly wanted to win.
There was no room for sentiment. Jesse Lingard only made the bench, while Odion Ighalo did not even make the squad.
Ighalo’s last start came in the Carabao Cup in September. There was a slim chance he could have been recalled, even to the bench, for the quarter-final. Solskjaer felt otherwise.
Likewise, young winger Facundo Pellistri might have fancied his chances of a spot on the bench at Goodison Park, having made the substitutes list in the Champions League on two occasions.
There was no room for Pellistri on the bench either, despite him netting three goals in seven under-23 appearances.
Once again, this was not all that surprising considering the strength of opposition with Everton the home side, putting a near full side out.
A better chance lies ahead
Another fixture lies ahead at the start of next month, for Solskjaer to rotate his squad, when United host Watford in the FA Cup.
This is a far ‘softer’ fixture with United at home and Watford in the midst of a 46-game league season in the division below.
There won’t be full scale rotation with United determined to win, but there might be a bit more of a chance for both Ighalo and Pellistri to see some action.
In Ighalo’s case, there is a sentimental factor of getting the chance to play against his former club, and it could be an ideal way for him to round off his stay at United which finishes next month.
A late appearance at the end as a substitute would be an ideal way to sign off.
Pellistri also could be called upon from the bench, to get his 2021 off to a strong start by giving him a taste of first team action.
If he seizes his opportunity, then he could stay with the senior squad and hope to play a further role in cup competitions through the second half of the season.
There is no reason for him to be despondent about missing out at Goodison Park, and Ighalo’s final opportunity has not passed yet either.
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