After game-week 4 of the 2019/20 Premier League season, one thing stands same for both Manchester United and Chelsea – their points tally. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United and Frank Lampard’s Chelsea are sailing on the same boat as both the clubs have accumulated just 5 points from 4 games.
From a Manchester United fan’s point of view, the concern was whether we can trust Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the permanent manager.
After a string of favorable results in December, January, February, and March, the Red Devils could win only one out of the last seven games in the Premier League previous season. The loss against relegated side Cardiff City on the final match-day of 2018/19 season caused huge unrest among the fans. However, the board didn’t leave the Norwegian in the middle as they persisted on standing strong behind him and supported him in the transfer window.
On the other hand, Chelsea fans had more cause for concern. The departure of Eden Hazard and the imposed transfer ban piled up misery on both the board and the club. Moreover, Maurizio Sarri left Stamford Bridge in search of better pastures. Similar to the Red Devils, the Chelsea board appointed club legend Frank Lampard as their manager for the 2019/20 season and the Chelsea fans were more optimistic than ever.
The Reason for Optimism?
Even though the clubs have gone through rocks and boulders, the fans were optimistic after the appointment of OGS and Lampard. The reason behind the optimism was the promise made by both the managers. OGS and Lampard promised to show their faith in the youth academy graduates for the ongoing season and in turn secure the foundation of the team for the years to come.
For the Manchester United fans, the ultimate optimistic hope was all about “the class of 1992”, how the homegrown players and youth academy graduates like Beckham, Paul Scholes and Neville inspired the side to the title win in 1996.
The Present Scenario in the Premier League
Even though the club is going through a number of rough patches, Lampard at Chelsea has lived up to his words having deployed players like Kurt Zouma, Tomori, Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount to a more significant extent in the Chelsea playing XI. However, it hasn’t exactly been the same case with Ole at the Stretford End.
The above statement doesn’t intend to imply that Manchester United are playing with a bunch of veterans. In their opening fixture against Chelsea, Ole started with the side averaging just 24 years and 277 days. Apart from that, Ole fielded another team with an average age of just 22 also. However, the homegrown players featuring in the fixtures were only Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay. And for now, we can safely say that Ole is not the purveyor of United’s youth and homegrown players.
Perhaps the playing XI even comprised of Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba. However, they are not any recent academy graduates by any margin. Its not Ole, its the previous bosses of Manchester United who have handed them a chance to shine. The more damning thing about the manager is that he replaced the injured Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial by veterans Ashley Young and Juan Mata. When Andreas Pereira replaced the under-performing Jesse Lingard, the average age suddenly rose to 25, and when Matic was on the pitch, the side comprised of three players over 30.
OGS on the Doubt Radar!!!
OGS had raised doubts in every fan’s mind with his comments made during the end of the previous season. Ole also previously commented regarding Greenwood’s contention for the starting game against Chelsea after a good pre-season.
However, Mason Greenwood has so far got only 47 minutes in the first four games of the Premier League. This had come when Solskjaer described Mason Greenwood as the most natural finisher in the squad ahead of the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Apart from Mason Greenwood, his fellow academy players like Tahith Chong, Tuanzebe and Angel Gomes have also been in contention for the spots in the initial game weeks. Even though Tuanzebe and Chong are regulars on the bench, they are yet to get any taste of the premier league action this season. While midfielders like Angel Gomes, James Garner are still yet to receive a spot in Solskjaer’s matchday squad.
Moreover, when Luke Shaw was unavailable for the match against Southampton, the Norwegian choose to give a chance to someone like Ashley Young instead of other promising players in the squad like Brandon Williams who can play at the left-back position and could benefit greatly in the long run.
What has changed since then?
Why does Solskjaer choose not to play academy graduates when he can? Is it too risky for him? or is it because the stakes are too high for him at the moment? For all these questions, the answer is an undoubted yes. The players whom OGS is choosing to field are clearly unable to do what was expected of them and have been miraculously failing at getting the basics right. The result lies in watching United languish at the 8th position in the position.
For example, Jesse Lingard has not scored or assisted any goal since January 2019. The England international is in a terrible form and has not managed to effect the team in any positive manner whatsoever. Not scoring goals does not make Lingard a lousy player but having someone like Angel Gomes in the team can at least introduce an alternate dynamics when nothing is going right. If the question is about physicality of Angel Gomes and whether his small height is going to allow him to make much difference or not then its worth noting that players like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Santi Cazorla and even Xherdan Shaqiri have all made their impression even with a lack of size. It’s baffling to see why Solskjaer is not handling more first-team opportunity to a talented player like Angel Gomes when clearly he needs to.
At Stamford Bridge, Frank Lampard’s faith in Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount has already yielded positive results with Tammy scoring four goals in three matches already. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the same can be replicated with the likes of Greenwood, Chong and Tuanzebe if only given a chance to flourish like certain other players have at Stamford Bridge.
Is Ole becoming a Mourinho 2.0 at Old Trafford?
Back when Mourinho was Chelsea manager, talented players like Dominic Solanke and Izzy Brown could not convert themselves into the complete England internationals that they where destined to be.
Even though they can still come right, their potential has deteriorated and Mourinho is the one who should take the blame for this turn of events. Because of Mourinho not showing enough faith in them when they really needed it, their club careers never really took off at Chelsea as a result they where vastly ignored in the International scene as well.
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Instances like these beg the question from Manchester United faithfuls where players like Greenwood, Chong and Garner will eventually end up like Solanke, Baker and Brown because of the lack of faith being shown on them at this stage?
I for one choose to believe that this will not happen, or rather this should not be allowed to happen. However, until Solskjaer actually rolls up his sleeves to do something about this, the likelihood of this happening really lingers that to say the least that does not bode well for the future of the club and players alike.
( The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arsedevils )