Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has had to field a lot of questions from the press about new signing Donny van de Beek’s lack of game time at Old Trafford, but one of his comments this week sheds new light on the situation.
Asked if the Dutchman is happy about the situation, Solskjaer replied ‘I wouldn’t say that Donny is happy. Of course, he wants to play more, but he gets about his job in the right manner.’
The manager then added an interesting footnote.
‘He reminds me a lot about myself, when I first came in, that he understands my difficulties and challenges.
‘We are doing well and have got players who are playing really well in his position.
‘I was the same with Sir Alex. When he left me out I understood and I was happy for the team to win – and Donny is that type of guy.
‘He knows he is important for us and knows he is going to play many games.’
Van de Beek, Mason Greenwood, Brandon Williams, even Alex Telles: all players who probably expected to be a big part of United’s 2020/21 campaign yet who have found themselves warming the bench more often than not. Does Solskjaer’s own personal history as a ‘supersub’ influence the way he handles players as a manager?
Psychologists might conclude that in condemning top players to the bench, the Norwegian is in a sense saying that the players on the bench are as important as those on the pitch, that those on the bench may be better than those on the pitch and that a manager’s reasons for keeping a player on the bench are not necessarily because he is not as good as the players on the pitch.
In short, Solskjaer may still have a chip on his shoulder about the fact that, in particular, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole would be selected ahead of him more often than not. In his most influential years, Solskjaer was a substitute more often than he was in the starting XI. He may not want to accept this was simply because they were better players than him.
As for Van de Beek, it seems that the boss will allow the splinters to heal a little today.
‘He will definitely be involved in this game against Liverpool and he might be the deciding factor in the game,’ he said of the Dutchman.
‘He trusts his own quality. He is a quietly confident guy who deep down knows he is good enough and is just waiting for his opportunity.’
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