Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must overcome a major flaw in his Manchester United armoury before the detail casts a major shadow over their efforts to end their trophy wait.
United ended a run of three defeats in their last four games to overcome Villarreal 2-1 thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 95th-minute winner at the Stretford End. That win came at a crucial time, given they were trailing the Spanish side, having already lost to Young Boys in their first match.
That winning goal was supplied by Jesse Lingard. And after the game, Solskjaer admitted the England man is pushing hard for a bigger role after stepping off the bench.
However, should Lingard earn a start, it could mean one of United’s numerous attacking options missing out. Indeed, the likes of Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Marcus Rashford are other options to United.
Which one misses out remains a conundrum. Either way, pundit Owen Hargreaves claims Solskjaer must quickly work out his favoured XI. And failure to do so could have serious consequence on their quest to lift a first trophy since May 2017.
In addition, Hargreaves also thinks there has to be a place for summer signings Ronaldo, Sancho and Raphael Varane.
“I don’t think Ole does [know his best XI] that will take time, ” he told BT Sport. “If you look at Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, all teams pick themselves further they’re along in their evolutions.
“I think United added some players to their squad in Jadon, Varane and Cristiano so it’s going to take time to integrate those players with [Paul] Pogba, Bruno Fernandes.
“The attack – the potential is off the charts. Ole spoke about getting the balance right. And that is why Pogba has been on the right, tonight. He plays in the centre so the potential’s there for this side but it’ll be a work in progress this season.”
Michael Owen blames lack of Man Utd consistency
Fellow pundit Michael Owen disagreed and claims Solskjaer does know his best side. However, he thinks he’s struggling due to inconsistencies shown by his top stars, namely Pogba.
He said: “This has been a problem for many, many years trying to get the best out of players like Paul Pogba.
“I actually think that Ole knows his best team in certain games and I think he’s got two different teams for different scenarios and he’s not the only manager to do that.
“Sir Alex Ferguson done the exact same, a tough European game all of a sudden Park Ji-Sung would play. Then Darren Fletcher, Wayne Rooney would be pushed out on the left. So it depends who they play against.
“If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has left respect for the team he’s playing against I think Paul Pogba plays central with one sitting midfielder. He’s going to need to be braver.
“As soon as they play someone really difficult, they play a [Scott] McTominay, Fred or someone of alike. Then he [Pogba] gets pushed out to the left so I think that is consistent you know when he’s respecting a team or not because that’s exactly what happens every time.”