By Liam Canning | | 5 mins
Solskjaer To Wait Until Summer to Sign Promising Defender
Manchester United interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not put a foot wrong so far.
After eight games in charge following the sacking of José Mourinho, the Norwegian manager has won all eight matches. Such has been his influence on the team, Manchester United fans are already wanting Solskjaer to receive the job on a full-time basis.
It has been clear for all to see the remarkable improvements that the former United centre forward has made. The feel-good factor has returned not only to the players but also to the stands at Old Trafford. Man United are looking like their former selves under Sir Alex Ferguson with the way they attack teams and punish them into submission.
Man United have always had good players, even in a post-Ferguson era, but it has been difficult for the three managers before Solskjær – who is 1/2 (-200) to get the job at the end of the season with best bookmakers – to get the best out of them.
Massive, massive win. Eight wins from eight. Ole Gunnar Solskjær has done an immense job. Manchester United are back.— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) January 25, 2019
Perhaps the stage was too big for some and the pressure told, but for the Norwegian manager, he has taken it within his stride and looks more confident with every day that passes.
Similarly to Real Madrid, the managers who are to succeed at Manchester United are likely not to be the most successful in the game. They also will not be the biggest names in world football.
Instead, they are ambassadors of the club and will have shared some history in one way or another with it through their playing days.
Solskjaer To Follow Modern Greats?
Such was Zinedine Zidane’s influence on Los Blancos, as well as Pep Guardiola’s on Barcelona, Solskjaer might just well follow that route to become an incredibly accomplished manager if he is awarded the permanent job in the summer.
With that in mind, one of the first things Solskjaer is likely to do, should he get the permanent job, is to recruit new players in the summer transfer window.
A position that has been under scrutiny over the past few years has been central defence. Malnourished of talent in that department, the Norwegian will look around Europe to find a player that he thinks can bring reliability and stability to United’s defence.
One player that has routinely been mentioned is Inter Milan’s Milan Škriniar.
The 23-year-old has been something of a revelation since arriving from Sampdoria 18 months ago and has become a mainstay in Inter’s defence.
While he is not fully accomplished and there are still small mistakes in his game that seep through, the Slovakia international is a player that can bring a sense of balance to United’s frenetic back line, as well as some much-needed discipline and artistic defending.
Škriniar is priced at 5/2 (+250) with BetVictor to join Manchester United this month, with Chelsea the same price. But clubs will only spend what they absolutely have to midway through the season due to it being difficult for a player, especially coming from abroad, to adjust to new life in a new country under a new manager speaking a different language.
Defensive Reshuffle Needed
Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones are likely to fall by the wayside in the summer, especially if Manchester United are to free up some space in the squad to bring in a fresh face or two in defence. It has been obvious for a number of years that the Red Devils need a world-class centre back with Škriniar certainly fitting the bill.
Alongside Victor Lindelöf and occasionally Eric Bailly, Škriniar can form a reliable and trustworthy central defence pairing. 23 years old is still relatively young for a player who is in the heart of the defence, but Škriniar has shown his maturity on countless times over the years, with one performance at Camp Nou against Barcelona standing out in memory.
While Inter were getting dominated for large parts of the game, Škriniar stepped up to the plate and showed what a mercurial talent he was, ushering the likes of Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho away from his goal.
He thwarted the danger time and time again, showing his ability to read the game and consistently be in the right position at the right time. His anticipation is second to none.
With over 200 senior appearances for his four previous clubs, Škriniar has a wise head on young shoulders – which is exactly what Manchester United need in defence. While Lindelöf is a fantastic ball-playing centre back, he is not a natural born leader, and has been paired with the likes at Benfica and with Sweden.
Partnered alongside the Slovakian, United fans could be in a position to see the much-improved Swede’s performances rise to an even higher level.
Škriniar will not be a cheap summer acquisition, but if Manchester United want a defender who can lead their back line into better days for a sustainable amount of time, there should be few hesitations over signing him.
The Slovakian has the temperament for the Premier League and can fill a gaping hole in the Red Devils’ defence.
About the Author
An NCTJ-qualified sports journalist, Liam Canning covers European football for Bookies.com.