What changes to the team should Solskjaer make for Manchester United?
(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

What changes to the team should Solskjaer make for Manchester United?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will take charge of Manchester United for the first time this weekend, after the sacking of Jose Mourinho.

grantmcquillan
Grant McQuillan

It perhaps comes as no surprise that Jose Mourinho was sacked by Manchester United, but what perhaps is a little surprising is that his replacement is club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Whilst 'the baby-faced assassin' ranks a lot lower in experience than most Premier League managers, his credentials as a manager in his homeland of Norway rank higher than almost anyone. Solskjaer managed to win the Eliteserien with Molde FK in his very first season with the club, and not just did Solskjaer and his men go onto defend the Eliteserien the following year, the initial league title win under Solskjaer was the first ever in the 107-year history of Molde FK.

Now, back in Manchester, the Norweigan has to take over a United side currently in sixth place, 11 points off the Champions League places, 19 points off their bitter rivals Liverpool in first and an upcoming double-legged tie against free-scoring PSG in the Champions League just around the corner. So what does the treble-winner of '99 need to change to get his side back within the Champions League spots before he departs in May back to Norway in May?

Time to utilise Paul Pogba

Despite Mourinho taking most of the criticism this season, Paul Pogba has had his fair share to, and the Frenchman seemed to go hand-in-hand with the 'Mourinho out' discussion. This is partially because he was Mourinho's biggest signing in both a stature and finances, but also because he joined at a similar time, with an equal amount of pedigree and expectation on his shoulders, and therefore forcing the same question Mourinho faced: "What do you bring to the club and why are you here?"

The Mourinho-Pogba saga went on and on and was no doubt a major problem for the club. The two clearly never saw eye-to-eye, resulting in training ground kerfuffles, openly criticising one another in the media, but most importantly, resulting in below par performances, which were mainly down to being played out of position and under Mourinho-esque tactics.

Pogba flourished in a Juventus side where he played further forward in a #10 role and was allowed the freedom of the pitch, but, under Mourinho, it was the opposite. Strict formations, lack of attacking flair and slow play forced Pogba to drop deep to retrieve the ball and barely ever have we seen him be in and around the attacking third doing what he does best. Now, of course, playing alongside the likes of Andrea Pirlo massively helped him, but as the saying goes 'you don't get worse overnight', yet, it seems since arriving in Manchester under Mourinho rule, Pogba has.

The whole Mourinho-Pogba issue was only further justified this summer when Pogba played a huge role in France winning the FIFA World Cup, proving that he can be still of the elite level. It is up to Solksjaer now to bring him back in the team and get him playing in his correct position, because he is unquestionably one of United's main men and still has bags of talent.

Alexis Sanchez could be like a new signing

Similar to Pogba, Alexis Sanchez has significantly underperformed under Mourinho and perhaps more-so than Pogba considering the Chilean scored 80 goals in 166 appearances for Arsenal, and now he has just four goals in 30 appearances and can't even get into the team, nor can he argue his case for being in the starting XI at all.

One thing Solskjaer was known for during his impressive spells in Norway was his attacking nature played in a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 formation, and as the Molde Cheif told the Daily Mail recently 'He is an offensive coach who plays entertaining football and sees winning 4-2 as being better than 1-0.'. As for Sanchez, he is versatile, and will have no problems in playing as a winger or a centre-forward, but with Solskjaer's clear desire for goals, Sanchez could look like a new signing under the Norwegian and finally justify his existence at Old Trafford.

For now, Sanchez will remain on the sidelines until mid-January, where crucial games against Spurs, Liverpool, PSG, Arsenal and Manchester City are just around the corner. 

Give youth a chance

If there is anything Solskjaer will bring to United it's knowledge on how the club was ran during it's glory days. Solskjaer, given his chance by Sir Alex Ferguson at 23 in '96, was surrounded by products of the youth, also known as 'The Class of '92'. Throughout his entire United career, Solskjaer witnessed all sorts of young stars come through and flourish under Ferguson, and perhaps is now the best time for youngsters to come through at Old Trafford in recent years.

United, as they most often do, have a vast amount of young talent available. Angel Gomes and Tahith  Chong have been dubbed the next big talent at the club for a while now, but with just an appearance each in the first team, it is hard to find complete justification for this claim right now. But, with Solskjaer's proven intent to progress youth at Molde working like a charm, maybe now is the time for the likes of Chong and Gomes to come through under the guidance of the Norwegian.

Another player, who is perhaps the talk of the town is Mason Greenwood. The 17-year old has 22 goals in 19 starts for United's youth teams, and with Romelu Lukaku struggling to find the net, United fans continue to plead for Greenwood to be given a chance. Greenwood scored a hat-trick as United beat Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup, just hours after Solskjaer's announcement. Coincidence?

Put it this way, in the current football landscape, there are not many better teachers out there to show you how to hit the back of the net at Old Trafford. Perhaps Greenwood needs to be given his chance, and maybe just a chance is all he needs.

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