Football

Man United manager Solskjaer: Donny van de Beek has a big part to play

United boss Solskjaer fires back at critics, saying Dutchman needs time to adapt

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said yesterday that new signing Donny van de Beek needed time to settle and would play a big part in the club's season.

United signed the 23-year-old Dutch midfielder from Ajax Amsterdam for a reported £35 million (S$62m) last month, but he has yet to start in either the English Premier League or Champions League.

GROUP H
MANCHESTER UNITED RB LEIPZIG

"Donny is going to play a big, big part this year," Solskjaer told reporters ahead of tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) Champions League home game against Germany's RB Leipzig.

"When players come into a new team, a new league, they always need time to adapt.

"When Donny has played, he's played really well. It says a lot about our depth of quality in the squad that we don't have to use him every game."

Van de Beek has made four substitute appearances in the Premier League, where he has scored one goal, and one in the Champions League.

Solskjaer's decision not to field the Dutchman in Saturday's goalless Premier League draw against Chelsea drew criticism from some quarters.

"It's nice for some players and commentators to have a little go, but you have to know that you don't have to start the first three games to be a very important player in the squad," the Norwegian added.

"He's going to be important, don't worry about that."

United kicked off their European campaign with an impressive 2-1 away win against last season's runners-up Paris Saint-Germain and Solskjaer said his team were keen to build on that performance.

"We look at every single game as a chance to get three points," the 47-year-old said.

"In the group stage, you'd think 10 points will get you through. Our aim is to get to 10 points as quick as we can."

And in order to achieve that, Solskjaer has to rediscover the winning formula at Old Trafford, where United are yet to taste victory this season following losses to Crystal Palace (3-1) and Tottenham Hotspur (6-1) before their 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Saturday.

Solskjaer has speculated that one reason for the drop-off in home form is the change of routine during the lockdown period. He is also desperate for the return of fans to add noise and colour.

As such, he changed the pre-match routine before the Chelsea game in an effort to turn around his side's Old Trafford fortunes, taking them to stay in a hotel the night before the game.

Victory against the Bundesliga leaders would put United in a strong position to finish in the top two in Group H, with a double-header to come between Leipzig and PSG.

But Julian Nagelsmann's in-form team, who started their European campaign with a 2-0 win against Istanbul Basaksehir, also have a chance to stamp their authority on the group.

Solskjaer must decide whether to stick or twist against the German side, who reached the semi-finals of last season's Champions League.

He played a makeshift three-man central defence of Axel Tuanzebe, Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof in Paris, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and new signing Alex Telles operating as wing-backs.

But Solskjaer reverted to a back four against Chelsea, with Harry Maguire, who endured a rocky start to the season on and off the pitch, back in the side.

He also has decisions to make in midfield. Scott McTominay and Fred have started all three games since the international break, with French star Paul Pogba coming on as a substitute each time to add forward thrust.

Solskjaer is spoilt for choice up front, with new signing Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood in the mix and Anthony Martial available alongside Marcus Rashford. - AFP

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