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Solskjaer’s Secret Weapon

After Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed as interim manager to lead a new regime at Manchester United following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho he took no time in professing their intent and showing how the team intended to move forward from then on. Team performances are on a high not seen since Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge.

If Premier League performances are anything to go by, then United are in good stead, but the team continues to fight on more than one front. If the club is to reach any of its goals then the squad itself will come to play an increasingly prominent role. You can follow their progress across the 3 competitions they are contending in with a range of match previews and betting tips at

A number of key players who seemed to go missing under Mourinho have been brought back to life and it’s the younger players that are benefiting most from this resurgence under the Norwegian.

Solskjaer himself is no stranger to United’s history of promoting youth through the ranks. He was part of several title winning teams under Alex Ferguson that consistently boasted a number of homegrown players. Indeed United hold a proud record of fielding an academy player in every match squad for almost 4000 matches, a feat that incredibly stretches back to 1937.

OGS began his managerial journey by coaching United’s reserves. Alongside counterpart Warren Joyce he helped lead them to two cup wins as well as two league titles. His influence would eventually culminate in United winning the FA Cup Youth in 2011, with messrs Pogba and Lingard getting their first taste of silverware at United.

And it’s club talisman and prodigal son Paul Pogba (25) who has become the poster boy that embodies Solskjaer’s ‘new’ United. The Frenchman is finally beginning to display the kind of game changing form and influence that he so effectively displayed in Italy and with the French national team.

In front of Pogba are fellow academy graduates Jesse Lingard (26) and Marcus Rashford (21) who, unlike their French peer, emerged relatively unscathed from Mourinho’s regime.

Bolstering this new attacking line is another beacon of youth. Anthony Martial (23) is finally finding form and minutes under the new manager, which comes as a welcome change, considering one of United’s foremost talents looked to be heading out of the door in the summer.

Lingard, Rashford and Martial all emerged under the stewardship of Louis van Gaal, and if there’s one enduring legacy the Dutchman will leave at United it will be the opportunities he he gave to United’s younger players. Van Gaal gave starts to a whole host of youngsters at United, and the aforementioned three look like they will play a key role in United’s first team squad for some years to come.

If van Gaal was seen to give youth a chance, his successor Mourinho has been characterised in an entirely different light, as almost an antithesis to youthful, exuberant football. In all fairness that isn’t entirely true.

It’s true that academy progression into the first team somewhat stagnated under Mourinho. The Portuguese gave a number of academy players their debuts in a final day fixture against Crystal Palace back in 2017. Unfortunately it was only to be a cameo appearance, with many of these young talents promptly making their exit during the summer.

With the exception of Scott McTominay (22), who came to feature regularly in Mourinho’s midfield, the opportunities for academy players were limited. But Mourinho’s reign did reap rewards in terms of youth. The Portuguese made a number of signings that are beginning to show their worth.

The likes of Victor Lindelöf (24), Eric Bailly (24),  Romelu Lukaku (25), Paul Pogba and Diogo Dalot (19) are all talented players that should command a place in the first team squad season after season but if his United are to succeed in achieving any of the club’s goals this season he must continue to trust in youth.

OGS has already begun to set things in motion, gifting opportunities to under-23 players Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong, who are both exciting attacking prospects.

Then there is the fate of James Garner and Mason Greenwood, part of the under-18 setup at United. Along with Chong and Gomes, under-17 England captain Garner and one of last season’s youth league top scorers Greenwood are now travelling to games with the first team squad and were present at the warm weather training camp in Dubai. It looks like they’re being prepped for a number of potential first team opportunities.

The longer OGS seeks to instill virtues that many feel are intrinsic to Manchester United, and continues to succeed while doing so, the case for his permanent appointment becomes ever more appealing. The choice for the new United manager was thought to be Mauricio Pochettino by many pundits but now according to the comparison from the top football betting sites you can see that Ole is the favourite to keep the manager’s job with the Spurs manager no longer the favourite.

Whether bought in or fostered at home, the bedrock of the current team is undoubtedly rooted in youth.  If Solskjær can continue this process through the talents he has available from the academy then the future looks bright for United’s youth, as well as the potential for exciting attacking football at Old Trafford for years to come.

In the game vs Liverpool on Sunday after all the injuries of the first half OGS had 5 homegrown stars on the field for the Red-Devils and this may well show how the way things will go moving forward for the Red-Devils – a mix of home developed players with the best of the world’s top footballers to make up the team as was the successful recipe under Sir Alex Ferguson so often in the past.

Guest post by Adam Grimshaw