Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a controversial decision not to sign a striker in the summer of 2019.

This was questioned after the sale of Romelu Lukaku, but Solskjaer had a plan, one which required patience.

The Red Devils boss wanted to provide a pathway for Mason Greenwood to break through.

Greenwood did precisely that, netting 17 goals in 2019/20, one more than Lukaku did for United the previous season.

Manchester United v Crystal Palace - Premier League
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

It took some patience at first, with Greenwood only becoming a regular starter in the second half of the campaign.

Even if it cost United points early in the season, Solskjaer’s plan was the right one. Greenwood is now established as a big part of United’s future.

It’s happening again

Solskjaer appears to have repeated the approach in central defence this summer.

While there were loud calls for United to sign a centre-back, especially after a worrying start to the season, Solskjaer resisted the temptation to dip into the market in this position.

This was because Solskjaer had faith in the ability of Axel Tuanzebe, a young defender who he named as captain for a cup game last season.


Tuanzebe has had terrible luck with injuries over the past 12 months, and many forgot how good he can be. Solskjaer hadn’t.

The United boss’ decision to wait on Tuanzebe was vindicated in Paris, as he threw him into the starting line up amid injuries to Maguire and Bailly.

This would not have been possible had Solskjaer signed another centre-back in the summer. Tuanzebe might not even have been invited to travel with the team.

Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester United: Group H - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Solskjaer’s decision looks a smart one, and a choice which could save United millions.

The injury prone Eric Bailly may need replacing next summer, and Tuanzebe needs to stay fit himself and produce this level on a consistent basis.

If he can do so, Tuanzebe will become a defender United can build the club’s future around. It’s in his hands.

The 22-year-old is a big talent, and if he goes on to live up to his potential, he will have Solskjaer’s faith to thank.

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