How quickly things can change at Manchester United. With the departure of Jose Mourinho before Christmas, the club was in complete disarray, with its identity gone. The board took a risky move to give a shot to Norwegian team legend, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and so far it has gone better than anyone could have expected.
Solskjaer knows the club inside out, having spent eleven years at Old Trafford under the stewardship of Sir Alex Ferguson. The lessons that were learnt during that time seem to have moulded Ole into the coach that he wants to become. Attacking football, along with youngsters being given a chance that they deserve, are already two aspects that have been added back into the United regime, and a welcome return it is.
United now enter every game as the favourites within the betting markets, something that wasn’t necessarily the case under Mourinho.
Marcus Rashford has already adjusted to life under the new manager, with the English forward now averaging a goal every two games; something that must be a welcome sight for all Reds fans.
However, it isn’t just Rashford that has excelled; the links between the Norwegian and his old reserve team players seem to be fundamental with what he is trying to achieve. But who are the younger players that could be given valuable playing time by Solskjaer?
Chong has made an appearance in the New Year when he came on as a second-half substitute in United’s third round FA Cup win over Reading at the Theatre of Dreams. The Dutchman’s display left Old Trafford open-mouthed as he dribbled past his opponents with ease. Chong has already been tied down to a long term contract at United; with various clubs from around the world keen on poaching the talented 18-year-old. He has been in fine form for the reserves all season, scoring five goals in 13 appearances. Furthermore, he was an unused substitute for United’s loss against Juventus at Old Trafford earlier in the season; something that should have been quite an experience, even without featuring in the match.
Kieran McKenna always speaks in glowing terms about the Dutch talent. He said: “Tahith has the right attitude to training and looks after himself well off the pitch. He’s personable and good with the staff and players, which has helped him to settle in quickly. On the pitch, everyone has been excited by his performances; he’s an eye-catching player.”
He is the most talented player within the reserves and recently made his first-team debut in the Champions League win over PSG. The hype that comes with Greenwood is growing with every game that he plays in. Anybody that follows the club on one of the social channels will have heard or seen him in action; as his goals are very rarely tap-ins. So far this season, the 17-year old has found the net on 23 occasions across all age groups that he has featured. The youngster already has a host of fans and draws comparisons with Robin Van Persie, regarding his technique and the variety of goals that he scores; while he also draws a similar resemblance to Marcus Rashford’s emergence onto the scene for United.
Injuries in the latter part of the season could see Greenwood finally given a chance with the first team; however, he isn’t likely to be placed ahead of Rashford or Romelu Lukaku in the rankings of United strikers. United fans have been crying out for a chance to see the exciting striker feature, and if anyone is going to take a chance on him, it looks like it will be Solskjaer.
Much of the talk this season has been about United’s need for a solid defender to play alongside Victor Lindelof. Maybe United already have the ideal candidate in the reserves.
Williams would add some blistering pace into the United back line, as he shot to fame for breaking Darren Campbell’s 100-metre record at Ashton-upon-Mersey school; an achievement that had stood for 25 years. On the pitch there is more to his game than purely speed; he is nimble on the ball, comfortable in the air and skilful at bringing the ball out from the back.
Time will tell whether Solskjaer will be giving these youngsters a chance that they are craving; after all the results in the back-end of the season will determine whether he will be the man to lead United into the next generation. When the time is right the manager will use all the mentioned youth players and they will have their chance to shine. Eventually, we hope they will prove that they are ready to become first team stars.