Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took a gamble when selecting his team to face West Bromwich Albion. Fortunately it paid off.
The United boss was managing his squad with his team selection on Saturday night.
The selection of Fred and Nemanja Matic as a midfield two caused plenty of criticism on social media.
Former Red Devils prospect Keith Gillespie even questioned why they were both playing.
If looking just at this one match, it was fair to question why. And United’s laboured victory emphasised queries over the conservative approach.
The simple reason Matic and Fred both started was because United wanted as many players in the side who were as fresh as possible.
Both players sat out the international break, while Donny van de Beek played for the Netherlands, and Scott McTominay for Scotland.
Paul Pogba was not available after reportedly picking up an injury with France.
United have a game this Tuesday night at home to Istanbul Basaksehir.
It is a fixture which has become a must win, thanks to the defeat away from home.
By selecting players like Matic, and fellow veteran Juan Mata, who had also rested over the international break, Solskjaer cleverly managed his squad.
Many of the international players only returned on Thursday or even Friday, a day ahead of the West Brom game.
Solskjaer has allowed them extra recovery time. With United now into a spell of 12 matches in 37 day, it is crucial to use the squad wisely.
This will sometimes mean there will be some combinations in individual matches which are not ideal, like the Fred and Matic partnership against a bottom three team.
Fortunately, the gamble paid off. United won the match 1-0 and registered a first home league win of the season.
It was frustrating to watch at times and took both a penalty, and a VAR ruling against one for West Brom. United rode their luck.
But when all was said and done, United did just about enough to get the three points, and can now move forward.
Solskjaer’s selection can now bear fruit in the upcoming games, against Basaksehir, and then Southampton away next weekend, which will be a tough fixture.
It is important to conserve players’ energy where possible and utilise the squad sensibly.
Solskjaer has set United up for success this coming week. Players like Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek can come in, as can Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba if passed fit.
A more exciting, free-flowing United should start to click into gear over the upcoming games.
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