Why does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer keep recalling the same back three?

Why does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer keep recalling the same back three?

It seems just about everyone who follows Manchester United is now perplexed at manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team selection policy, which shows no sign of changing.

Giving his player and manager ratings for Manchester United’s 3-1 victory over Newcastle at Old Trafford yesterday, The MEN’s Samuel Luckhurst said ‘It is becoming hackneyed of Solskjaer to recall the same players who are not going to take United to the next level. United’s defence was comical at times.’

It was the England World Cup winning manager Sir Alf Ramsey who was credited with the saying ‘never change a winning team’ and this can, by pure logic, extend to ‘never change a defence that kept a clean sheet’. Yet Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does both, often to his own detriment.

The brilliance of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford and cool finish of Dan James won United three points yesterday, but the scoreline was flattering and in truth, the side Solskjaer fielded would probably have been put to the sword by better opposition.

An impressive, slick United side overcame Real Sociedad 4-0 in Turin on Thursday and a defensive trio of Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly and Harry Maguire looked solid and inpenetrable. Yet three days later, Solskjaer dropped Bailly and Henderson and reinstated the shambolic back three that Luckhurst describes as ‘comical’.

Six times this season Henderson has kept a clean sheet but has been replaced by De Gea in the next game. The same has happened to Bailly on five occasions.

Why does Solskjaer so stubbornly continue to re-institute a back three that has shipped a whopping 32 goals in the Premier League alone, despite being protected by two superb full backs in Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka and two defensive midfielders in Solskjaer’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation?

United legends Gary Neville and Paul Scholes have also weighed in over the last week. Neville said United are not capable of winning the league with De Gea in goal and Scholes said United are not capable of winning the league unless they sign a commanding centre-back.

Fans are just as perplexed as Luckhurst, Neville and Scholes. When the United side was announced on The Peoples Person Facebook page yesterday, hundreds of comments came flooding in asking why this troublesome back three had been reinstated.

Luckhurst likes to ask a question or two at Solskjaer’s press conferences, so perhaps he can take the opportunity at the next one to ask the manager upon what rationale he bases his persistent selection of this famously bad back three when it is clear to everyone that they do not work as a unit. The answer should be interesting.

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About The Author

Red Billy is co-editor of The Peoples Person, author of three books and totally obsessed with football's transfer market. Always glad to get feedback - write to redbilly (at) thepeoplesperson.com.