Ole Gunnar Solskjær Must Intertwine Both Youth And Experience6 min read
With the transfer window officially open, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United have one of the biggest summers ahead of them in order to kick-start their revolution.
No one is realistically expecting the Red Devils to start challenging once more for the Premier League title next season, but the reset button has officially been hit and the club simply have to restore some of the traditional values instilled under Sir Alex Ferguson, as well as having a ruthlessness that has been sorely missing.
It is perfectly clear to analyse the current squad and suggest a large portion of players are not up to the required standard and should be moved on. This is not a new revelation, but United have to start clearing the deadwood from the team and investing in new players with a different mentality: a mentality that lives and breathes for the badge.
But it will be also as important to have a clear philosophy with the Norwegian manager in place and stick with it, making sure that the first steps are being inserted this summer. Solskjaer has made it perfectly clear that he values youth and wants to focus on bringing new academy graduates through to the first-team, but there also needs to be a balance of bringing in quality players that can add to the squad in the immediate future.
A player like Daniel James, for example, is a case-in-point. At 21 years old, the Swansea winger has not yet reached his full development, but is further along the scale than Tahith Chong, who is on cusp of the first-team after coming through the academy.
James is not an Alexis Sanchez in terms of pulling factor when it comes to appeasing fans, but those supporters have seen a variety of ‘big-named’ players come and go since Ferguson retired and are growing impatient with the lack of performances from them.
The Welsh winger, on the other hand, is an under-the-radar signing, should it be completed. At £15 million, he is a relatively low-risk acquisition, young enough to move on once again if he does not quite make it, but more importantly, has the room to grow and continue to reach new heights in a United jersey.
Manchester United need players who are willing to run through walls for Solskjaer and James will have the opportunity of a lifetime to do just that. He is not yet a fully established ‘star’ in England, let alone in Europe, and so he would come to Old Trafford humble and ready to fight. The Red Devils are desperate for players with this mentality who they can mould into superstars – just as they did with a young Cristiano Ronaldo.
And while first-team experience is needed this summer, especially in central defence where Solskjær has struggled massively with the lack of quality, the Norwegian must also show a clear pathway into the squad. That means the likes of James Garner, Mason Greenwood, Angel Gomes and Chong, who have all been registered in match-day squads, must get more game time next season.
Promising strides were made towards the end of this campaign, especially with Greenwood’s starting debut in the Premier League against Cardiff, but Solskjær cannot freeze up and resort to relying on the elder players when the academy graduates are ready to be properly tested.
All in all, this summer is Man United’s most important one in the last decade and needs to be approached with balance and efficiency. For too many transfer windows have the Red Devils chased the ‘galactico’ signings and resulted even further back from where they started.
It is time to recruit smartly and follow the model of players who want to sacrifice themselves for the greater good.