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."