Having kept new boys Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane on the bench for the season opener against Leeds, most Manchester United fans expected to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer give the expensive acquisitions the nod from the start in Sunday’s meeting with Southampton.
Both players had now had a week of non-stop training with their new team and were surely ready for about 60 minutes at least, but for whatever reason, Solskjaer didn’t think so.
Instead, he started with Sancho and Varane on the bench and could only find around half an hour for the former in a 1-1 draw which proved exactly why Solskjaer wanted to sign both players in the first place.
With Sancho on the bench, Solskjaer deployed Mason Greenwood out on the right to give Anthony Martial another shot at proving he deserves to be United‘s starting striker, and yet again, the Frenchman fluffed it.
He managed around an hour on the pitch, offering about as little as you can imagine, and was hauled off when Solskjaer decided he wanted to really go for this result. Martial is not good enough or consistent enough to start as United’s striker – a point emphasised by the fact it was Greenwood who poked home the equaliser from a central position.
Greenwood needs to be up top, and that means Sancho needs to start out wide.
Sancho didn’t have a game-changing impact when he was brought on, but he still looked infinitely more dangerous than Martial did in his extra minutes. United need that help in attack, but coincidentally, this game proved United need assistance at the back as well.
Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire were decent at best, but both looked to be lacking composure and made some intriguing decisions during the game. Neither really wanted to deal with Southampton’s press and could have done with someone to keep them relaxed – maybe someone with four Champions League titles to his name?
During his time with Real Madrid, Varane proved he can deal with pressures far greater than Che Adams and Adam Armstrong can offer up. He’s the calming influence this United team is lacking.
It was clear why United wanted to sign both Sancho and Varane, but now, it’s time for Solskjaer to start using them.