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Five things Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to do to get Manchester United back on track

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Five things Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to do to get Manchester United back on track

It’s now been confirmed that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be the man in charge of Manchester United until the end of the season, as he takes over Jose Mourinho on a caretaker basis.

Solskjaer inherits a side low on confidence and in real need of a boost, and although it’s not a stellar name in the world of management, United have employed a man who knows the club inside out, having spent 11 years at Old Trafford as a player.

The 45-year-old has been tasked with steadying the ship until a permanent appointment is made in the summer, with the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Laurent Blanc and Mauricio Pochettino all linked with the post.

Below, we take a look at the five things he will need to do to get the team back on track between now and the end of the season.

Re-integrate Paul Pogba into the team

Jose Mourinho very much decided to go out doing things his own way at Manchester United, deciding to leave Paul Pogba out of the team in each of his last three Premier League fixtures. From those three games, the Frenchman played just 15 minutes and was an unused substitute for the fixtures against both Fulham and Liverpool. The club appear to have sided with Pogba on the issue of Mourinho, with the pair having a strained relationship over the last few months. Pogba is arguably the most talented player in the United side and getting him motivated and firing again could be the key to the team enjoying a successful second half of the season.

Paul Pogba Manchester United

Decide on a settled defence

Manchester United’s pursuit of a new centre-back was well documented in the summer and was one of the greatest sources of frustration to Mourinho. He made no secret of his desire to strengthen his defence, giving little confidence to those who remained at Old Trafford once the transfer window shut. Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof all knew they weren’t particularly fancied by Mourinho and that certainly wasn’t helped by the frequency of which that he would chop and change the lineup at the back. It’s key that Solskjaer settles on a regular back four to help find some continuity and consistency in defence.

Lindelof Bailly Manchester United

Attack, Attack, Attack

Supporters at Old Trafford have often been left bored to tears at the style of play and football that was continuously churned out by Mourinho’s side and are eager to see their team play with freedom and expression. At Anfield on Sunday, United started with five defenders and two holding midfielders, registering just three attempts on goal in the game. With the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard in the side, they certainly have the calibre of player to play with more expression, particularly at home. Solskjaer played in a United team that for 11 years consistently played to win, often playing with two strikers and two wingers, with the emphasis being on putting the opposition under pressure. It will be interesting to see what elements of Sir Alex Ferguson’s style have rubbed off on Solskjaer’s philosophy and preferred style of play.

Rashford Manchester United

Get a tune out of Romelu Lukaku

If there’s any player in the United dressing room who looks like he needs an arm round him - and to shift 8 lbs or so - it’s Romelu Lukaku. The 25-year-old looks to have lost all confidence at Old Trafford, despite coming into the season off the back of a successful World Cup with Belgium. Scoring just twice in his last 11 appearances for United, Lukaku is in one of the worst ruts of his career and quickly needs to get out of it if he As a fellow member of the strikers union, Solskjaer will undoubtedly know what it’s like to have something of a goal drought and will need to somehow restore the confidence of a player who, on his day, is one of the most unplayable strikers in the Premier League.

Romelu Lukaku Manchester United Old Trafford

Get the focus back on the pitch

For months on end, the focus around Manchester United has been more about what goes on off the pitch, rather than matters on it. Leaks of dressing room discontent were rife and regular, with it believed to be as high as a 90% player consensus that Mourinho was no longer the man for the job at Old Trafford. Often Mourinho’s press conference sound bites were bigger talking points than that of what had actually taken place on the pitch, partly due to a lack of excitement and partly due to Mourinho’s combative style. It’s tough to remember sometimes that there is football going on amongst the mess that has been Manchester United this season and Solskjaer has the responsibility to make football the top talking point at Old Trafford once again.

Jose Mourinho Paul Pogba Manchester United