Start of something special

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has left his entire senior squad in Manchester to prepare for next Premier League game against Aston Villa while taking the reserve team with three seniors Axel Tuanzebe, Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw (none of whom started against Sheffield United) to Kazakhstan to play FC Astana in the Europa League Cup wherein they have already qualified for the next round.

It is a bold move because normally MUFC have had youth players part of every match day squad where as now Solskjaer has taken an entire reserves team to play instead of the main squad. It also shows the ruthlessness of Solskjaer who described the first half performance against Sheffield United "I could have changed 11 players at half time that's so simple apart from the keeper David" at 2:17-2:24. Skeptics have called it as 'Solskjaer throwing the players under the bus' whereas earlier during the bad run of results in April last season Roy Keane said "these are the same players that threw Mourinho under the bus and they will do exactly the same to Ole, leopards don't change their spots" at 0:29-0:36.

Solskjaer does not believe in retribution like the serial winner Jose Mourinho who used to publicly call out and blame individual players making the dressing room toxic. Solskjaer has been impeccable and honest in his interviews maintaining calm under severe pressure and responding to every criticism without making it personal. Solskjaer has saved the first team squad a seven hour long flight to play in severe cold of about -14 degrees and resting them for crucial run-in of fixtures across the league and cup competitions that sees them playing three times in seven days next against Villa, Spurs and City immediately and later six more games before end of December.

Three first team players will be making their debuts: Ethan Laird, Di'Shon Bernard and Dylan Levitt. Lee Grant in goal his first competitive start for MUFC, ahead of Matej Kovar. Axel Tuanzebe will partner impressive Di'Shon Bernard in defense. Ethan Laird back from injury will play at right back. Luke Shaw will be starting his first match since late August. James Garner and Dylan Levitt will anchor the midfield. Tahith Chong, Jesse Lingard the captain, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood will lead the attack. Seven of squad have never played for first, among them three are confirmed starters. Its a rare start for Chong and Gomes who are yet commit their futures to MUFC.

Not just MUFC players and fans but everyone in sport can take inspiration from the fight back from cancer of Max Taylor who makes this travelling squad to defiantly state "I won't let cancer define me."

This squad will help to assess the depth of talent ahead of January transfer window wherein the performances of Brandon Williams has meant that MUFC will no longer be looking to buy a right back as they had originally planned to do. This will also please the board as Solskjaer will review every member of MUFC squad including the reserves before asking for funds thereby solidifying his claim to fill a gap in the squad. The only concern will be if Astana play physically bulldozing the youngsters and if that results in injuries to any of the reserves.

As I had previously mentioned this match remains the closest competitive match of MUFC to watch by travelling from India. Will it turn out to be as historic as the games against Liverpool in November 1951 of 'Busby Babes' or season opener against Villa of 95 'Fergie's Fledglings' remains to be seen. Those two games were in the context of the league while this might be placed with many cup games which weren't the focus of those campaigns down the years that had first team fringe players mixed with youth. Nonetheless its very difficult to re-collect such an wholesale changes to a entire team made up of mainly youth/reserve players. Post Munich there was 9 forced changes in squad that faced Arsenal in the league and Sheffield Wednesday in FA Cup with Harry Gregg and Bill Foulkes the only two constants, while here entire starting XI is changed and five subs including Lingard, Grant, Tuanzebe, Garner, Greenwood were part of squad that played Sheffield United now face Astana. Whenever Greenwood has played he has scored or assisted that will definitely guarantee goals.

Epoch making in the MUFC tradition, "Solskjaer's Specials."

Draw at Bramall Lane might be a good result as Egan's injury favours United

The very first fixtures of the then newly formed Premier League was played on 15th August, 1992 which had a match between the United's of Sheffield and Manchester that resulted in the first goal scored by Brian Deane a header against Peter Schmeichel ending in 1-2 loss for Sir Alex Ferguson's men in search of winning the elusive League title. Mark 'Sparky' Hughes scored MUFC's first goal of the Premier League era.

The back line in 3-5-2 of Sheffield United: Chris Basham, John Egan and Jack O’Connell have the second best defensive record in the Premier League including five clean sheets, these overlapping centre-backs have taken the league by storm narrowly beaten by Liverpool and Leicester, drawing to Chelsea and Tottenham, and beating Everton and Arsenal. Blades Manager Chris Wilder will wait till the last minute to take a call on John Egan who withdrew at half-time playing for Ireland with a calf-injury, so as to not break this impressive partnership in defense that could tilt the balance of match. Veteran Phil Jagielka back with SUFC, though having all experience from his impressive Everton stint will ideally not want to face Rashford, Martial and James running at him. Dean Henderson on loan from MUFC will have to sit out this game for SUFC.

Manchester United had a good run of games in winning five of last six matches leading up to the international break and look to continue that form away at Bramall Lane in South Yorkshire. They will be without their player of the season so far Scott McTominay who suffered an ankle injury in the win against Bournemouth. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can revert to 3-5-2 to contain the Blades in the first half and change to 4-3-3 in the second half to force a result. Andreas scoring against Bournemouth would certainly enhance his confidence. Fred will need to take up more responsibility in McTominay's absence. Jesse Lingard will look to make an impact as a substitute as he marvels the progress of his fellow MUFC graduate who played alongside him in Oliver Norwood leading the Blades as a regular first team starting place still remains scarce at 26 years of age. Harry Maguire returns to Bramall Lane leading MUFC having originally graduated from the youth academy at Sheffield.

Sheffield United won their 3rd FA Cup in 1915 the final dubbed the 'khaki cup final' played at Old Trafford instead of Wembley due to on-going WWI and beat Chelsea before the famous cup competition was stopped for five years.

Chris Wilder is the holder of League Managers Association's Manager of the year award ahead of Guardiola and Klopp last year speaks volumes of work at Sheffield mixing old school work ethic with modern techniques. Wilder might not leave his boyhood club mid-season even if approached by a top six side. These kind of tough away fixtures against a well organized well drilled side matures the youth much better than playing many games against struggling teams. MUFC can take draw as a good result with Egan's injury further favouring the reds.

With Ole's blueprint starting to work Poch will have to wait longer

Sir Alex Ferguson met Mauricio Pochettino towards the end of 2015-16 campaign in May, 2016 but Manchester United ended up appointing Jose Mourinho instead to succeed Louis van Gaal. That was perhaps due to the presence of Pep Guardiola at City who had been rivals with Jose Mourinho in Spain with Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. Many die hard fans questioned the decision as the football philosophy of MUFC and Jose Mourinho are poles apart, although he remains the most successful manager since retirement of Ferguson with Europa League, League Cup trophies and finishing 2nd their highest position since winning the Premier League in 2012-13.

Pochettino will always be admired for bringing the best out of young players under his charge and adopt a Gegenpressing style to play that's trending atop tactical pyramid of football coaching with JΟ‹rgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola leading the charge from their German Bundesliga stints where it was initiated by Ralf Rangnick with limited success.

With the turnaround by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer there is no risk to his position at the moment. The lack of depth in midfield and absence of backup striker things can go wrong quickly with a few injuries and rub of green going against, but as demonstrated by the Norwegian that his vision is for the long term and in line with the traditions of this great club where he is a legend from his playing days. If and when MUFC do consider a change of Manager the Argentine Pochettino will no doubt be amongst the short-list based on his excellent work at Tottenham Hotspur. That opportunity looks beyond this 2019-20 season and maybe next. Not winning a single trophy is a lacuna where the likes of Brendan Rodgers takes a lead but the context of taking a mid-table club to be a consistent top four side aided by excellent recruitment team under constrained budget cannot be ignored.

Solskjaer has beaten Chelsea twice and Leicester City once, drew with Liverpool and thereby shown big match temperament but what afflicts the side is to turn up against the mid table opponents especially away from home. Getting a midfielder and/or a striker cover in January transfer window and return from injury of almost nine players will ease the task and continue the upward momentum of MUFC. Two points and seven positions being the difference between Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's MUFC and Jose Mourinho's THFC both of whom will be chasing the elusive fourth spot, and that march just got a lot harder with a direct top 6 opponent making managerial recourse. MUFC host Tottenham at Old Trafford on 05-December just two days before the Manchester derby. That game should encourage the World Cup winner Paul Pogba to regain his fitness and form to deliver a world class performance for Ole's reds irrespective of transfer rumours.

On England's 1000th game the best MUFC XI

The squad:
Alex Stepney (GK)
Gary Neville
Gary Pallister
Rio Ferdinand
Roger Byrne
Duncan Edwards
Bryan Robson (C)
David Beckham
Wayne Rooney
Tommy Taylor
Sir Bobby Charlton

Subs: Ray Wood, Phil Neville, Nobby Stiles, Ray Wilkins, Steve Coppell, Teddy Sheringham

England's first, youngest and longest serving team manager was Walter Winterbottom who had a brief spell as a player at MUFC in 1930's. Between 1946 and 1962 he oversaw England participation in all four World Cups wherein the quarter-final defeat to eventual champions Brazil in 1962 was his best result. In 1958 World Cup in Sweden his squad was depleted due to the Munich Air Disaster which robbed him of three first team regulars in Roger Byrne, Duncan Edwards and Tommy Taylor and prior to the event were beaten only once in 17 consecutive games. He did pick a young Bobby Charlton but did not play him even for a single match while Pele debuted spectacularly for Brazil being 3 years younger.  During his tenure a selection committee usually picked the squad and his influence was limited mainly as a trainer which he professionally taught and wrote about. Hungary famously beat England at home 6-3 in 1953 and 7-1 away in 1954.

Jack Mew and Alex Stepney won just one cap, Gary Bailey two and Ray Wood and Ben Foster three is the tale of MUFC goal keepers who have represented England. Alex Stepney has easily been the most successful at club level. Steve Bruce is perhaps the most famous MUFC player for never having represented England (Jimmy Greenhoff and Alan Gowling were also denied) being the first double winning captain of MUFC while his partner at centre-half Gary Pallister earned first of 22 caps while still playing for Middlesbrough in the second division. Rio Ferdinand became the youngest player to debut as a centre-half at 19 years 8 days while still playing for West Ham and ended up with 81 caps. Gary Neville holds the record for most caps by a right back at 85 and played with his brother Phil in the same team 31 times; Phil has 59 caps. Bill Foulkes sole cap came against Northern Ireland in 1954 as a right back. Roger Byrne held the record for most consecutive appearances for England with 33 at left back and being the Captain of the famous Busby Babes.

Duncan Edwards became the youngest post-war player to play for England in 1955 at 18 years 183 days against Scotland, in total played 18 times scoring 5 goals including that 'boom-boom' shot against World Champions West Germany. His England captain Billy Wright had this to say "There have been few individual performances to match what he produced in Germany. He tackled like a lion, attacked at every opportunity and topped it all off with cracking goal."

'Captain Marvel' Bryan Robson leads the team as he carried the side on numerous occasion on his own in the 80's, once scoring a goal in just 27 seconds against France in 1982 World Cup. David Beckham peaked as England captain under Sven-Goran Eriksson scoring that crucial free-kick at Old Trafford against Greece to secure the qualification and was rumoured to want away from MUFC when Sir Alex Ferguson reversed his decision to retire as the Swede Eriksson was lined up to succeed. Paul Scholes had lesser impact than either Nobby Stiles or Ray Wilkins. Steve Coppell's impressive career on the wing with 42 caps 7 goals came to an abrupt end at just 28 years when he sustained a knee-injury while playing against Hungary to qualify for 1982 World Cup.

Tommy Taylor had an incredible goal ratio for both MUFC and England, scoring 131 goals in 191 games for club and 16 goals including two hat-tricks in just 19 appearances for country. Alfredo di Stefano called him 'Magnifico' and was seen as a long term replacement for aging Nat Lofthouse. Wayne Rooney beat the all time scoring record long held by Sir Bobby Charlton at 49 goals for more than 45 years but could only score one of his 53 goals in World Cup competition against Uruguay in 2014 and four at the Euro's across three tournaments! George Wall the left winger who was a key player to during the reds first victorious phase in late 1900's decade comes close to cementing that spot but in terms of best MUFC players to represent England have Sir Bobby Charlton at left wing. Charlton's best came against Portugal in the semi-final of the 1966 World Cup and the great 'Der Kaiser' Franz Beckenbauer summed that glorious World Cup as "England beat us in 1966 because Bobby Charlton was just a bit better than me." Teddy Sheringham's best came in two spells on either side of his MUFC tenure, firstly partnering with Alan Shearer to reach the semi-finals of the Euro '96 and then being used as a tactical sub for his intelligent play especially in the 2002 World Cup in Japan; overall scored 11 goals in 51 games.

Viv Anderson was Sir Alex Ferguson's first signing in 1987 and became the first black player to represent England while playing for Nottingham Forest in 1978. Owen Hargreaves who got most of his caps while playing for Bayern Munich before his move to MUFC to help win the 2008 Champions League was in fact born in Canada. Most notable player born outside England was James Princep who was born in India and held twin records of being the youngest player to represent England in 1879 at 17 years 252 days and to play in FA Cup final at 17 years 245 days. He held both records for around 125 years!


New documentary on Busby recounts the greatest story that sport can ever tell

Sport based movies are best told with actual footage aided by conversations from the players or peers who were involved rather than recreating the drama as actors who can never substitute for icons of the game. Busby the movie by Joe Pearlman does exactly that. It has apparently taken inputs from the very best biographies of Sir Matt Busby from the likes of Eamon Dunphy, Micheal Crick, Patrick Barclay and Roy Cavanagh as per the BBC review.

My personal favourite quote about Sir Matt is from Willie Morgan his last major signing "Everything that's been said about Matt since he died was said before he died. That's the greatest epitaph that he could have."

Would be interesting to see if it mentions about rumours of Sir Matt getting the sack in Jan 1951 after a string of poor results 15 months before winning the first league championship, two lost Babes -  Johnny Berry and Jackie Blanchflower, weather playing havoc over the return flight after playing Dukla Prague and how the team reaches Manchester just in time to play in the league, the take over of Louis Edwards immediately after Munich, cruelty of FA to snatch Bobby Charlton by holding a friendly at the same time as MUFC ravaged by Munich play in the semi-finals of European Cup, FA declined the offer from UEFA to invite MUFC in the European Cup season immediately after Munich, Real Madrid helping Manchester United by playing an annual pre-season game to raise funds and profile of the club post Munich, reaction after the shock loss to Partizan Belgrade in '65 European Cup semi-final, sale of John Morris & Johnny Giles, tussle over player wages, concerns over Busby's health after Munich that necessitated an annual summer holiday to recover from the stress of the season, lack of spending in the later years, failure to sign Mike England & Alan Ball, the succession...etc.

A constant source of support through all the ups and downs of those 24 glorious years was Sir Matt Busby's first signing his assistant the Welshman Jimmy Murphy. What a partnership! Busby first met Murphy at Bari towards the end of WWII and heard him taking a training session for an army match and described it as "It was as if he was delivering a sermon".

Louis Rocca the chief scout of MUJAC who was responsible for being in touch with Sir Matt Busby through Manchester Catholic Sportsman’s Club and tried to sign him from City as a right-half in 1930. Rocca  eventually brought him to Old Trafford in February 1945 as the Manager impressed by his straight talk of complete control with a clear plan. Rocca was succeeded by Joe Armstrong in 1950 ably supported by Billy Behan, Bob Bishop, Bob Harper, much admired trainer Tom Curry whom Busby called 'the best trainer in England' and an ex-MUFC player and coach Bert Whalley both were lost to Munich with eight Busby Babes and eight journalists, ex-MUFC player and trainer Bill Inglis, club secretary and twice the caretaker manager Walter Crickmer, MUFC supporter Willie Satinoff, Jack Crompton the goal keeper of Busby's first great team who joined the coaching staff as a trainer immediately after Munich and was the caretaker manager during MUFC Far East tour in 1981 after Dave Sexton was sacked and before Ron Atkinson was appointed, Wilf McGuinness whose career was cut short due to injury at the age of 22 and succeeded Jimmy Murphy as reserve team coach in 1964 and later replaced Sir Matt Busby in 1969 at just 31 years of age!


Busby is set to release on digital platforms on 15 November and on DVD from 18 November on Amazon.

Clamour for a similar documentary on Sir Alex Ferguson will no doubt be loud as the footage is still ripe in memory but the tales of Tommy Docherty to bring the club back up and the Ron Atkinson era be more prudent as it probably takes 30 years or a generation to completely comprehend those events from all angles.

Only sport based DVD which I own is Richard Harris starrer Lindsay Anderson's "This Sporting Life" about rugby set in 1963 that told a tale of a working class man rising up the social ladder.

Ole's template a blueprint for things to come

Dispatching Partizan Belgrade and Brighton by 3-0 and 3-1 scoreline at Old Trafford playing a high press counter attacking game is testament to the efforts put in by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his coaching staff aiding the young team whose average age is just about 23 years, one of the lowest in the league. Not losing at Old Trafford since that loss to Crystal Palace in late August in 7 games is turning it into a fortress.

Harry Maguire led the side despite the presence of David De Gea for the first time perhaps indicating that he is more vocal in the dressing room than the Spaniard and might Captain the side long term. Harry also played every match since that away loss to Newcastle a run of 8 games while Fred has also enjoyed 5 straight starts in the Premier League which showed in his confident passing in this game in particular perhaps his best yet in the jersey of MUFC. Andreas finally had a goal to show for all his running and efforts for the team. Fred and Andreas have come under a lot of criticism in not being the best of Brazilian players let alone at MUFC. They have nonetheless been working hard to make good of their careers despite their apparent limited talent.

Brandon Williams looked very much the answer to MUFC's long standing left back woes as he diligently defended and joined in the attack that very nearly brought an assist to a goal. Ashley Young, a winger originally playing as left back for last many years can finally retire at the end of this season knowing well that in Brandon that position is covered very well for the next decade.

MUFC won 3-1 but missed many chances brought about by the quick interplay between the front three Martial, Rashford and James. They had so much fun playing in the Trafford Park that Marcus Rashford even nutmegged a defender. Daniel James has played in every league match and scaring defenders, is the best prospect since Rooney and Ronaldo endearing himself to fans of all ages. Anthony Martial's return from injury has sparked this revival as he is able to bring others into the play being a pivot upfront. The last MUFC hat-trick in the premier league was in April 2013 with Robin van Persie scoring against Villa - that's a gap of 6 seasons for the attacking pedigree of the Reds! Based on Sunday's evidence of play that wait for hat-trick might be finally over his season.

The only negative was the goal conceded from a corner kick which meant United were unable to extend their tally of just two clean sheets in the league this season. Ever present and MUFC player of the season so far Scott McTominay was taken out on a stretcher unable to complete the match having fallen over his ankle which can be a niggling injury.

No doubt this was the best performance by Manchester United this season. Over the international break they can look to reduce the long injury list in Axel Tuanzebe, Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic, Angel Gomes, Diogo Dalot, Paul Pogba, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Eric Bailly. With no International break until March next year and MUFC still in all cup competitions, the matches will come thick and fast. MUFC have come back stronger after a tapering performance before the last break inspired by that game against LFC and sit 7th in the league with a blueprint of their game play finally starting to deliver on the pitch.

That 'Inspired' Ferguson appointment

Defeat to Bournemouth brought the three game winning streak to an early end massively denting hopes of challenging for top 4. Level on points before the game with the cherries who now leapfrog Manchester United to 7th position. Gap of 6 points has already opened up between the top 4 and the chasing pack while MUFC lag leaders Liverpool FC by 18 points after just 11 games in 10th position. 13 points from 11 games is the worst start to a season for MUFC since 1986-87 which saw the sacking of Ron Atkinson and appointment of Sir Alex Ferguson on 6th November, 33 years ago.

Travel for four straight away games and the gutsy conditions needed a freshening up of the squad in Greenwood and Chong nor the alternatives to Scott McTominay were explored by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Brandon Williams merits starting in pacey Premier League while Ashley Young can be used in slower European competitions reversing the policy employed thus far. With Fred and McTominay faring very very poorly in distribution of forward passes the proven Harry Maguire can play as a sweeper in a three man back line to supplement this weakness in midfield.

Sir Alex Ferguson not only led Aberdeen to break the Old Firm hegemony in Scotland but won in Europe beating the mighty Real Madrid in Cup Winners Cup final. Ten trophies in eight and a half years at Pittodrie! At United he faced myriad problems from drinking culture, injuries to major players, poor recruitment that hired mavericks not specialists, scouting and coaching setup. First four seasons were spent correcting those foundations finishing 11th, 2nd, 11th and 13th then trophies followed with FA Cup being the first in 1990. That was the first match from which I started my journey as an MUFC fan while listening on the BBC Radio.

Sir Alex Ferguson had heard from his mentor Jock Stein about his regret of not taking up an offer to succeed Sir Matt Busby which left a deep impression on him. The MUFC board that included Sir Bobby Charlton did not want a repeat of that situation the nor public refusal from Lawrie McMenemy, Bobby Robson, Ron Saunders to succeed Dave Sexton in 1981 and hence met Ferguson a day before sacking Ron Atkinson following a 1-4 defeat in a Cup replay away to Southampton and were 19th in the league(3 Wins, 6 Loss, 4 Draws from 13 games, 10 points). On taking charge Ferguson the optimist said "It's no use me coming here and not thinking that every game we play we can win, that's the only way that we can attack things." Once the enormity of task dawned on him Ferguson said "No manager is prepared for the job at Old Trafford. The legend is huge." and rolled up his sleeves.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has started a similar journey but based on his modest success with Molde in Norwegian league and a resounding failure with Cardiff in the Premier League. He understands the club very well being a legend who scored that goal to win the Treble in 1999. Thread bare squad with eight injured players makes the difficult task improbable.

The fans cannot expect midfield domination so long a staple of MUFC with Paddy Crerand, Ray Wilkins, Bryan Robson, Roy Keane and Micheal Carrick down the years. Solskjaer like Mourinho plays on the counter attack based on the players at his disposal while developing the young Scott McTominay and others. MUFC have an inferior squad compared to Leicester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur let alone the top two but have a very high wage bill that exposes the massive expectation gap. The baggage of incredibly successful history can weigh down or inspire a new evolution of youth rightly being promoted by Solskjaer.

Three away wins last week acts like a tonic to relieve immediate stress but a complete cure needs a longer run and sufficient time to heal. He needs to mix long term corrections with short term fixes perhaps in January transfer window to ensure the club finishes in top 8 if not in top 6. That requires turning defeats into draws or coming from behind to win a game which is a phenomenon yet to happen this season. Key to Solskjaer's next milestone is for the team to demonstrate that 'never say die' spirit else the tame surrender will only yield one result that of another managerial scalp.

A week is a long time in football

So it indeed proved when Manchester United clocked three away wins in three different competitions to put an unwanted away record since that glorious early March evening in Paris. Partizan Belgrade, Norwich and Chelsea in Europa League, English League and League Cup were beaten on the trot. Confidence of the team grew from non-coherent display at Belgrade to resounding win at Norwich and finally to an victory from the most improbable free-kick 35 yards out from Marcus Rashford that reminded of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Scott McTominay was at the core of all three matches and rightly voted as MUFC player of month for October. Team played 3-5-2 in the 1st game and 4-4-2 in the 2nd while they absorbed pressure from Chelsea in the former formation to being unleashed in the latter to gain a quarterfinal draw at home to Colchester United for their improved tactical nous. The exchange of passes back and forth between Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford before the Frenchman slotted home with a sublime chip was a treat to behold at Norwich.



Newcastle win away in a last gasp header by Alexis Sanchez probably saved Jose Mourinho from the sack last season while the loss to Geordie's and the game against our perennial arch rivals Liverpool brought out the best of MUFC as the young players have settled down. That win at Norwich meant MUFC jumped 7 places from 14th to 7th in the league table aided by a better goal difference.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is coming to grips with his squad and tactical rotation to ensure the players have optimum game time. Ashley Young and Brandon Williams now share the left-back duties game by game that doesn't load the old or the young upstart. It also revealed the sale by date of hapless Jesse Lingard to have been expired and what an opportunity has he missed - to be at the start of a new evolution that is showing signs of coming of age. Backup for Scot McTominay in the continued absence of Nemanja Matic is a spot that needs a thought, given Axel Tuanzebe's recent injury and Marcus Rojo's lack of discipline besides these two options have never been explored before.

Like Scott McTominay, all the three new recruits Daniel James, Aaron wan Bissaka and Harry Maguire plus Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have been the constants around whom the rest of the squad have revolved. David de Gea, Victor Lindelof, Fred, Andreas Pereira and James Garner  have been selectively deployed.

Brandon Williams has clearly demonstrated his credentials in two away games to be considered as a first choice at an age of 19. He is in line to emulate the great Arthur Albiston who had a checkered career at left back between 1974 to 1988 from Tommy Docherty to Sir Alex Ferguson. Arthur broke into the first team at a similar age of 19 and had 14 league appearances with 3 as substitutes after a debut at the age of 17 in 1974.

Bournemouth away and two home games to Partizan and Brighton sets up MUFC to improve their league standings further and cement the qualification to the next round of Europa League before the next international break. Harry Maguire leading the side does calm down the nerves which will again be tested against Wilson's Callum and Harry, later being on loan from Liverpool FC. Unbeaten in last 7 games against the Cherries should give MUFC confidence despite the travel exhaustion of this fourth consecutive away game.

Balance crucial to squad rebuild

Solskjaer finished not just inside top four positions in the English Premier League but third overcoming Chelsea, Leicester City, Tottenham...

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