After keeping new boys Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane on the bench ahead of the season opener against Leeds, most Manchester United fans expected to see Ole Gunnar Solskjær give the expensive acquisitions the nod from the start in Sunday’s meeting with Southampton.
Both players had now had a week of uninterrupted training with their new team and were certainly ready for about 60 minutes at least, but for whatever reason Solskjær did not think so.
Sancho came off the bench / Ryan Pierse / Getty Images
Instead, he started with Sancho and Varane on the bench and could only find around half an hour for the former in a 1-1 draw that proved exactly why Solskjær wanted to sign on both players in the first place.
With Sancho on the bench, Solskjaer deployed Mason Greenwood on the right to give Anthony Martial another shot to prove he deserves to be United’s starting striker, and once again the Frenchman loafed.
He succeeded for about an hour on the pitch and offered about as little as you can imagine, and was deducted when Solskjær decided that he really wanted to go for this result. Martial is not good or consistent enough to start as United’s striker – a point that is emphasized by the fact that it was Greenwood who poked home the equalizer from a central position.
Greenwood must be on top, and that means Sancho must start wide.
Sancho had no change in the game when he was brought up, but he still looked infinitely more dangerous than Martial did in his extra minutes. United need that help in the attack, but by chance this game showed that United also need help on the back.
Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire were decent at best, but both seemed to lack composure and made some exciting decisions during the match. None of them really wanted to handle Southampton’s press and could have done with someone to keep them relaxed – maybe someone with four Champions League titles in their name?
Varane is still waiting for his first minutes / James Williamson – AMA / Getty Images
During his time with Real Madrid, Varane showed that he can handle pressure that is much greater than Che Adams and Adam Armstrong can offer. He is the calming influence that this United team lacks.
It was clear why United wanted to sign both Sancho and Varane, but now it’s time for Solskjær to start using them.