Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the master of the super-sub role during his spell as a player at Manchester United.

But even he would have struggled to make an impact in a game when he was brought on in the 92nd minute.

That was the situation Odion Ighalo found himself brought in on against Sevilla, and he did not touch the ball between coming on and the final whistle blowing.

Solskjaer has great faith in Anthony Martial and did not want to take him off. At the same time that signalled a lack of faith in Ighalo that he could be a similar level replacement.

Sevilla v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Semi Final
(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Sir Alex Ferguson was not afraid to make those big decisions. Back in 1999 against Bayern Munich he took off star strikers Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke despite their brilliant seasons, and watched as Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham turned the game on it’s head.

Solskjaer did not take a similar gamble until it was far, far too late, and it suggests, sadly for Ighalo, that United need a new option up front.

Bright early start faded

Ighalo has shown he can score goals for United and has five in total. But Solskjaer does not truly believe in him.

The Nigerian has shown himself capable of filling in against the likes of Derby, LASK, Club Brugge and Norwich, but he has not had many other meaningful minutes.

The FA Cup semi-final was a similar story. He came on with United trailing and played only the final 11 minutes. It was not enough to make an impact.

Like this game, it showed Solskjaer lacked faith in Ighalo when it really mattered.

 

Needs to find an alternative Solskjaer can believe him

Ighalo’s loan deal expires in January 2021 and United need to find a striker who Solskjaer feels is closer to Anthony Martial’s level.

Then he won’t be tempted to overplay Martial, and will feel comfortable taking him off, knowing he will be bringing on a player of similar level.

Look at Lyon against Manchester City in midweek. The French side had a better back-up option than United did.

They took Memphis Depay off midway through the second half and brought on Moussa Dembele.

Dembele went on to score twice to dump City out of the Champions League.

FBL-EUR-C3-SEVILLA-MAN UTD
(Photo by MARTIN MEISSNER/AFP via Getty Images)

The Frenchman may actually be the perfect solution for United, although he would not come cheap.

If Dembele is too pricey for United’s allocation of funds for a back-up, United need to find a player who is both talented and affordable.

With Ighalo leaving mid-season, an extra striker is required anyway. United might as well sign one who Solskjaer believes in to come on and change games.

Have something to tell us about this article?